About a month ago, I received an electronic missive bearing some ill news for me and my artistic kin. Star Clipper, a locally owned and operated St. Louis comic store, announced that it was going out of business.

When people first found out, it was like a massive outcry that spread throughout the St. Louis community. In the days after the announcement, people flew into the store in droves. Some, as one might expect, came as carrion birds, coming in search of a bargain from the still warm body of the store. Most, however, came as a surge of healing hands to apply pressure to the wound in the hopes of staving off death until a miracle could occur to save Star Clipper’s life. Sadly, while their intentions were noble, it would do little good in this case. Star Clipper was closing its doors for good in the very near future, and the Delmar Loop would never be the same as a result. Read Full Article

So Valentine’s Day is coming up, a day that single people loathe or otherwise avoid, and couple’s feel obligated to uphold. The origins of the holiday are fuzzy at best and it has been highly commercialized ever since. It is also the same weekend that the movie adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey comes out.

Now, there’s a lot what I can say about 50 Shades of Grey, very little of it positive, but since I have never actually read the book, I will keep them to myself. Instead I will present to you an interesting perspective on the origin of the story.

People used to play the game, “Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon,” which is a fun way of taking one person or film and tracing their path backward to something that would, at first thought, seem completely unrelated. However, the game is more than a way to trace actors.

As many know, 50 Shades of Grey started out as fan fiction of the Twilight series written by E. L. James, but with a decidedly kinky twist. It has been heavily modified since, yes, but the link is there. Twilight, by contrast, is a Vampire romance novel of questionable quality, but it wasn’t always that way. Stephenie Meyer originally wrote it as a Mormon-influenced romance novel, but later revised it to broaden her book’s appeal.

Combining these three things, it provides a very interesting trail…

50 Shades of Grey is a novel, revised from a fan fiction story, based on the Twilight series, which itself was a heavily adapted Mormon teen romance novel.

Think on that, and have a happy Valentine’s Day everyone. I’m going to go watch “Kingsmen: The Secret Service.”

Today I was going to post something cheeky, odd, and perhaps a little nonsensical. However, at the time of my writing this I heard something that shook me harder than I would have imagined. So, if all of you don’t mind, I’m going to give a moment of silence and reflection in remembrance of a young but extraordinary visionary who passed away early this week.

Monty Oum, director, writer, and animator extraordinaire, died this past Sunday, February 1st, 2015. He was 33 years old. Read Full Article

Anyone who’s been watching the news or has spent more than ten minutes on any social media site knows that right now the east coast is in the midst of an unenviable blizzard. It’s effectively shut down several prominent cities and painted itself all over the news as a result.

This has created quite an issue for a great many people, and I, as a simple man, have come up with a fun, simple, and highly impractical solution:

Send it to the Midwest! Read Full Article

As the clock ticks down towards the inevitably tumultuous beginning of the boon and bane to writers known as National Novel Writer’s Month, it helps me to reflect on my work habits; what works, what doesn’t, and, perhaps most importantly, what has worked for others.

No matter how you look at it, a writer is nothing without their influences. This is a simple and inescapable truth, whether you believe that the best way to grow as a writer is to learn from the experienced greats, or learn what not to do from those that have stumbled before us. For me, however, there has been one role model that has stood out among the many others I’ve learned from, and that is the esteemed and astounding Neil Gaiman. Read Full Article

There is a fear that many starting writers feel when it comes to crafting the main characters in their epics, that what they create will not feel real enough to their audience. I touched on it briefly in a post from a couple of years ago, titled The Beauty in Flaws, where I talked about how a writer sometimes has to fight against the impulse to create perfection within their characters. In some circles, these kinds of characters are derogatorily referred to as Mary Sues, although in my opinion that term is overused and, in some cases, poorly understood. Read Full Article

There is an old saying attributed to Bernard of Chartres that goes something like this: “We are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants, and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter.” It is a simple, but brutally true sentiment, stating that each successive generation of humanity, regardless of culture or personal history, are held aloft by the countless others that came before us.

As a fantasy writer, I’ll admit that the idea of standing on the shoulders of giants, marching unerringly into an ever-changing landscape, has a certain appeal, but in some ways the reality is far more awe-inspiring.

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As the house lights illuminated the interior of the A.E. Hotchner Studio, a young man steps out onto the stage and finds himself awash in a sea of friends, relatives, and other well-wishers. The house is packed, every seat is filled, and he can’t go more than three paces without a hug, a handshake, or a pat on the back. Cary Simowitz, law student, literature buff, and playwright, is premiering his first play, Ekphasia, or (alternatively titled) “The Shadow Girl,” making him the man of the hour. Read Full Article

There are few things I have experienced in my life that can match a wedding’s ability to bring about such searing emotional highs and gut wrenching lows, and the closer you get to the action, the harder it hits you. This weekend I had the honor of being the ring bearer of my sister’s wedding, and I was about as close as you can get short of being one of the brides. The sight of my sister’s face that day, as she held her partner’s hand, will forever be burned into my mind in the best possible way.

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