The Prince’s Trap (The Chronicles of Landon Wicker, Book 2) is here!

I am so excited to tell everyone that the second book in The Chronicles of Landon Wicker, The Prince’s Trap is finally here for people to read and enjoy. You can currently get it exclusively at Amazon in either paperback for $14.99 or for your kindle for $4.99 (if you are a kindle owner and a Prime member, you can even read it for free through the lending library!). This has been a true labor of love that has taken many months to edit and perfect for everyone to enjoy and now that it’s finally available for purchase, I am quickly moving on to book 3 in the series so that I can try and have it out by the end of 2013. I will keep you guys all informed as I move through the process, but I can tell you that the adventure is only beginning 🙂

The Prince's Trap Cover


My name is Landon Wicker. Almost a year ago, I learned I was psychokinetic. I can lift objects with my mind, hear people’s thoughts, and even fly if I concentrate hard enough. Because of what I am, I was brought to a secret facility–the Gymnasium–where, with hundreds of others like me, I am trained in how to control my abilities.

Then, six months ago, I was recruited into the Pantheon, an elite group of psychokinetics who secretly work for the U.S. government, running operations to maintain the nation’s security and superiority. I thought I was doing my part. I thought I’d found a way to redeem myself after killing my parents. But then I met Artemis, super spy and number one threat to the Pantheon. How could I have known she was also one of my best friends? She showed me the truth. The Pantheon and the Gymnasium may not be what they claimed. . . . And I might actually be the enemy I thought I was fighting against.
Now, I’m a double agent working with Artemis to find a way to bring them down. But no one said it would be easy, and with every discovery, the extent of the Gymnasium’s lies and deception only deepens. I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever find a way to stop them.
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New Cover for ‘The Search for Artemis’ Revealed!

As I prepare to release The Prince’s Trap, the second novel in The Chronicles of Landon Wicker series, I have some brand new cover art for the first novel, The Search for Artemis. There were a lot of reasons for this new cover and the complete rebranding of the book series, which I may go into some day in my blog, but for now, I can say that I am super excited about the new look for the series. I think it takes it to an entirely new place. If you feel so inclined, please let me know what you think of the new cover by commenting. And without stalling any further…here it is!


Prepare for the reveal of The Prince’s Trap cover in a few days!


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On Writing: What inspired you to be an author?

Inspiration is a hard thing to pinpoint. Reading through blog posts and interviews from other authors, it seems like most of us have always known we wanted to be writers or some poignant moment in our past drew us to the written word. I remember wanting to be an actor, an artist, a director, a designer, a chef, a restaurateur, a world-changing scientist…then landed on marketing in college.

But that all went out the window when I started The Chronicles of Landon Wicker. It didn’t start writing because I thought I wanted to be an author. It was that I had a story I wanted to get out, and it seemed like typing it out with words and dialogue (and all that’s in between) was the best way to do it. After reading books like Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling and the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, I realized there might be a place for a storyteller like me. I don’t consider my writing to be too high-brow or overly stylized like, say, James Joyce, or to have the same eloquent phrasing as Oscar Wilde (although I aspire to it), but I do think I have stories that are full of life and adventure that hopefully will provide a reader with a moment of escape where they can find themselves immersed in the lives of my characters. I want people who read my work to experience excitement and intrigue channeled through innate human truths and emotions.

The odd thing is if you asked me what I wanted to be before I started writing The Chronicles of Landon Wicker, I would have told you I wanted to progress up the corporate ladder in the marketing profession until I could create my own consulting company or build a killer advertising agency. Yet, since the fateful night I wrote the first chapter with Landon Wicker as he discovered his powers and ran away from home, my entire life plan has changed.

Now, if you ask me what I want to do with my life, I would say I want to be a writer, creating fantastical worlds of adventure and excitement that millions of readers can enjoy and interact with, developing characters that are complex and relatable, with personal journeys that touch the audience. I already have ideas for other books, visions of other characters, and worlds that are only just starting to take shape in my mind. And the craziest thing about it all, is somehow, by some twist of fate or some unknown grit, I have become a writer.

What I find funny, though, is that it wasn’t until I was visiting my parents in Florida for Christmas last year that I told them I had written a novel. I kept it totally secret until I had the first draft completed. While my dad asked the usual gamut of questions—What’s it about?What made you write it?Why didn’t you tell us earlier?—my mom left the table and opened up the closet beside the dining room. You all have them. You know, the one that’s filled with board games and linens, vases and grandmother’s china your sister will inherit. I thought she might be pulling out Balderdash or Scattergories (favorites in our family and staples during the holidays), but instead she went to a bin of photographs shoved into the back corner and pulled out a black and white composition notebook. I’d forgotten all about it, let alone knew my mother had kept it all these years. She handed to me, and I instantly started looking through the pages, reminiscing on all the stories I made up, laughing at the horrible spelling and terrible sentences, but what she said as she sat back down was, “You know the first thing you ever told me you wanted to be when you grew up was a writer.”

So now I am an author…I am an author who’s trying to take all my experiences–the people I meet, the places I go, moments with my family, conversations with friends, heartaches, happy days, exciting triumphs, sad failures,  the memory of a holiday and the smell of a particularly delicious cup of coffee–and channel those things into words, words that will transport people and take them on wondrous adventures, words that spark imaginations and touch hearts. I am an author. I don’t know why, but I’ve come back to a dream I somehow forgot, which subconsciously—maybe fatefully—returned. I am an author, and this time I don’t think it’s going away.

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On Writing: Commentary on ‘On Bad Endings’ by Joan Acocella

Yesterday, I read a commentary at by Joan Acocella in the Page-Turner section. It was titled ‘On Bad Endings’ and it delved into the disappointment one feels when an exciting, enthralling, utterly heart-stopping work of fiction (or non-fiction) falls into the uninteresting dregs of ennui. She goes on to explain that she’s not talking about novels “that … end sadly, or on a back-to-work, all-is-forgiven note (e.g. ‘War and Peace,’ ‘The Red and the Black,’ ‘A Suitable Boy’), but that the ending is actually inartistic—a betrayal of what came before.” Novels by greats–like Dickens, Brontë and Twain–were referenced where the characters and plots become tedious and boring or disingenuous rather than engaging and true like the rest of the story…and I have to admit, she has a point.

I just finished writing my second novel, The Prince’s Trap,  and have begun to delve into the third of four planned novels in The Chronicles of Landon Wicker series, and I must admit that the exact subject of this article deals with something I’ve feared for my own work. What is the appropriate ending? What is true to the story but still pleases readers? Do readers want a happily ever after? Or do they want drama to the last page? Cliffhanger? Complete closure? What about sending the story off into a whole new direction? How do I satisfy the readers to the point that in reading the last page of the series, they are as satisfied as they were with the first page? It’s a dilemma that has haunted me since I began writing The Chronicles of Landon Wicker, and I don’t know if there is an easy answer (unfortunately).

I believe that we write fiction because we want to help people escape to an interesting place where intriguing characters experience wondrous circumstances, because we have an entire world living–breathing–in our heads and we want people to see that world. It can be as real as non-fiction or take us to places in far off galaxies with technology well beyond our current understanding. Me, I have spent my life living in, and writing, a world where people have extraordinary abilities and where government conspiracies, genetic experimentation, espionage, betrayal and revenge are everyday matters. … They are things that excite me and compel me to write the next page in the story. But what do I do when this tale reaches its end? How do I resolve everything that’s coursing through me? When the plot and characters have run their course, how do I conclude the epic events that have transpired in a way that is true to the story I want to tell and satisfies those people who have stuck with me through the journey and (presumably) love and cherish my characters?

I think Acocella described this dilemma best when she was concluding her commentary. She said, “Again and again, the last chapters are hasty and dull. … [And] I think the tiredness may not be personal, but something about the universe in general: biology, physics. Art, whether fiction or not, is a challenge to entropy, a bumping up of something that must be flattened down again. … Most of us want extraordinary things, after a while, to quit being extraordinary—to end. The stone fell in the water. The ripples ran. Now they should stop. The surface should be smooth again.”

I believe she is right … All stories must eventually come to an end. Even in our lives, our hear beats in our chest, steady when we’re at peace, racing when excited, skipping when loved, and pounding when enraged, but inevitably our hearts will stop and we will flat-line just as the water stills. But at least for my story, I wonder how big of a stone must to drop in the water to make the journey as rough and exhilarating as possible so that when the waves subside, readers are pleased to be back in still waters?

Read the entire The New Yorker article by Joan Acocella at:

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On Television: Game of Thrones (HBO)

Season 2 Ep. 1 – ‘The North Remembers’

After a whirlwind first season, this acclaimed television show (and one of my current favorite shows on TV) has returned to HBO for a second season and I could not be more excited about it.

In the days leading up to the premiere, I watched all ten episodes of the first season, viewed every featurette HBO OnDemand had available and finished reading the second book of the Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings, from which this second season’s events is based. You can’t imagine how eagerly I anticipated this episode to air! But now that the first episode is over, I am unsure how I feel about the prospects for this sophomore season.

One thing that makes the television show so successful, in my opinion, is the filmmakers level of faithfulness to the original text. The worst thing when transfering a beloved work of literature into a television show or movie is to change things frivolously and therefore alienate the fans. Granted, there always have to be some minor changes to translate written words and internal thoughts/exposition into a screenplay, but so far they have stayed as true as they can be to the novels…and I commend them for it.

‘The North Remembers’ is no exception. Running straight after the events of the first season (and first book), it picks up during the height of the war for the Crown of the Seven Kingdoms: Dany is traversing the Red Wastelands across the Narrow Sea with her newly hatched dragons and her khalasar; Catelyn stands faithfully by her son’s, Rob Stark’s, side as he fights to rescue his sisters, avenge his father’s wrongful death and secede from the rule of the Iron Throne to become the true King of the North; Sansa is being held captive in the Red Keep of King’s Landing by Cersei and the incest-born, child-king Joffrey; Tyrion arrives to King’s Landing to take his interim seat as Hand of the King while the Lannister’s patriarch (and appointed Hand), Tywin, leads his army against the other kings; Stannis Baratheon, the rightful king by succession and a new addition to the show’s cast, is making plans to leave his keep at Dragonstone to claim his seat at King’s Landing; Bran handles life ruling Winterfell as war continues across Westeros; and Jon Snow, moving farther north of the Wall to handle the amassing Wildings, arrives at Craster’s Keep with the other men of the Night’s Watch.

As you can tell by that short synopsis of the episode above, a lot happens in ‘The North Remember’s’ but in actuality nothing really happens. Because each of these storylines and characters are important to the overall story and the continued faithfulness to the books, the filmmakers need to show them, but I fear that the sheer number of these characters and arcs is going to be the downfall of season 2.

In season 1, the cast of characters is similarly HUGE; however, in the start of the first season the events around all these characters are consolidated in a few key locations – King’s Landing, The Wall, Winterfell and Across the Narrow Sea – so even though there are a lot of characters, the events of multiple characters center around larger conflicts and is easy to digest. Now, because every main character is scattered across the four corners of Westeros and beyond, the filmmakers are only able to focus so much on each character within the sixty minutes they have for an episode, and each character has a distinct story arc that needs developing. As a result, I felt, there wasn’t enough time devoted to any one character’s story arc to really get any real investment in what happens to them in the next episode.

I know that with this series, the events that take place compound episode after episode to create a more holistic and captivating end, but with so much going on, I don’t know how effective it will be this time around.

I am still a huge fan of the books and the show and will obviously continue watching, but I definitely am concerned that season 2 will not hold up to the greatness that was the first season. I will just have to continue watching and see.

Rating: B

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On a Book: Cinderella – From Fabletown With Love

It was only a short time ago that my friend turned me onto the Fables comic series by Vertigo. As of today, I have read every issue that has come out for the series (107), and I love it! I consider it to be one of the most compelling, original, interesting, and exciting comic books I have ever read. The characters are very well-rounded and nuanced, there is a witty comedy throughout the series, and the storylines are intense.

For those who don’t know, Fables was “created by writer Bill Willingham [and] deals with various characters from fairy tales and folklore who have been forced out of their Homelands by ‘The Adversary’ who has conquered their realm. The Fables have traveled to our world and formed a clandestine community in New York City known as Fabletown. Fables who are unable to blend in with human society (such as monster and anthropomorphic animals) live at ‘The Farm’ in upstate New York” (Wikipedia)

Now the series has evolved a bit since the Wikipedia description was written. The Adversary has been defeated, Fabletown has been destroyed, the Farm has been abandoned, and the new evil Mister Dark is preparing to attack the Fables new home in Haven. But to the reader, the series has only gotten more and more interesting.

Wow, reading that back I just realized how crazy a comic series synopsis must sound to those who don’t read it too. It must appear completely ridiculous, haha!

Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love was a short six-issue limited series spin-off of the main Fables series, which was released in the 2009/2010. I only just got around to reading it, so it felt a bit out of place compared to where the overall series is, but even still, it was a good read.

In it, Cinderella (that’s right, the glass-slipper-wearing, prince-charming-marrying, evil-step-sister-having Cinderella) is a covert spy for Fabletown who is assigned the mission of tracking down the culprits responsible for the illegal smuggling of magical items into the Mundy (Mundanes – it’s what they call normal human beings) world. On the trail, she runs into the Arabian fable, Aladdin, and the two of them crack the case. I don’t want to give away any of the exciting reveals that take place in the story, so that will be the extent of my synopsis.

Overall, I don’t think the writing was as strong as the rest of the Fables series, but I did find that the writers did a great job at creating a cohesive story while also providing an extensive amount color and history on Cinderella’s spy-filled past. She is quite the intriguing, Bond-esque, femme-fatale, and her snarky, jaded view of the world could only be made possible by her hundreds of years of life experience.

The artwork was good, especially Christie Zullo’s cover art, and the story was simple enough to make it a very easy and entertaining read. It did seem to get a bit preachy at times, but that didn’t take too much away from the fun on the pages.

Rating: B+

P.S. – Now I can’t wait to read the sequel to Cinderella’s storyline, Cinderella: Fables are Forever, who’s sixth (and final issue) for the limited series was just released in July.

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On a Movie: Cowboys & Aliens

In a movie that basically answers the question of what would happen should War of the Worlds have been set in the Wild West, ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ provided the perfect excuse to watch 007 (Daniel Craig) and Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) kick some alien ass for a little over 2 hours.

At first glance, the premise seems strange and is sure to turn some people off, but on a weekend when the only other blockbuster movie to see is ‘The Smurfs’, I think this provided that much needed summer movie entertainment.

It was perfect that the main characters seem to run into every typical Western situation while following the aliens that stole their family and friends. There was a ruckus in the center of town, the people were subjected to an outlaw ambushin’ in a canyon, and they were captured by “Injuns” and subjected to a good dosage of old-school peyote medicine. Perfect!

I also have to give props to Daniel Craig for his portrayal of the anti-hero, Jake Lonergan, and his surprising ability to do an American accent…well. Harrison Ford did a surprising great job (given his acting in recent films) at being a cut-throat cattle rancher while also being a compassionate family man. Former Countess Olivia Wilde (didn’t know she once a Countess, did ya?) was both stunning and interesting as her character revealed some secrets that made her quite the intriguing subject…and her beauty didn’t hurt anything. I never realized how unbelievably amazing her eyes are!…they’re like staring into the clear waters of a tropical lagoon, mmmmmm. But as my friend Katie said, in general, Olivia Wilde has a somewhat hard-edge to her (akin to Megan Fox) that makes empathy and compassion seem like a foreign concept, so the scenes where she is attempting to comfort people appear somewhat odd and against the very fiber of the actress’ character.

Also, the aliens were quite terrifying, and their ability to overpower and kill frightening yet exciting.

Overall, the movie was well-made, fast-paced, entertaining, and all-together the perfect summer movie in every ridiculous way possible.

Rating: B+

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On Television: Thundercats (2011 Series)

Thunder! Thunder! Thunder! Thundercats, Hooooo!

This evening, the new prequel series of ‘Thundercats’ premiered on Cartoon Network, and I cannot lie that I was super excited to watch (I am a sucker for nostalgia). Having been born in the ’80s, ‘Thundercats’ was a staple of my cartoon watching childhood, so I was beyond ecstatic to see this reboot. But I must say that having seen the old cartoon almost became a detriment while watching the new series’ pilot episode.

I knew when they announced the new series that they wanted to make it a bit more serious and currently, along the same veins of ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ (Cartoon Network) or ‘The Last Airbender’ (Nickelodeon), but after watching the premiere, I was surprised at how different the reboot was tonally and contextually to the original series. Aside from the animation style and character appearance, the characterization/personality of some of the characters was very strange and numerous things seemed out of continuity with the old show. For instance, Tygra, who always seemed to be  cerebral and level-headed in the old series, was somewhat of a cocky jerk in this new show, criticizing and chiding Lion-O constantly. Also, if I remember correctly, Wilycat and Wilykit were members of Thundera’s noble families in the original series, which I think was explained in the 1985 pilot episode, but in this, they are mischievous, thieving orphans. So by halfway through the first episode, I had no choice but to attempt to disregard my memories of the old series, and accept the new one for what it is: a action-packed, overtly political coming-of-age story.

But I will not lie, when the lizards attacked the Thundera capital, I was excited to see how things progressed. The Trojan Horse scheme, which seemed a bit obvious once you recognized the similarities between Thundera and ancient Western cultures, the mech-warriors, missile attacks, betrayals, deaths, the first yelling of “Thundercats, Ho!” and the emergence of Mumm-Ra with his quintessential line “Mumm-Ra, the ever-living” finally had me engaged in the story. Not to mention, getting a little giddy when I heard those old school lines. For the better, the show picked up and was nonst0p until the end of the hour.

As a final note on the premiere, I thought the voice-acting was a bit forced and awkward and that some of the plotting was a bit obvious. I called multiple major episode plot points before they ever happened, which I always find disappointing, but I am hopeful that in future episodes the characters will become more dynamic, the plot will thicken, and the rest series will be entertaining on its own merits, regardless of the way things were in the old series.

Right now I plan to give the show a few more episodes to see if it is worth it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I am a bit skeptical.

Rating: B-

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On a Movie: Captain America – The First Avenger

I’m beginning to think that Marvel Studios can do no wrong, and I thought Captain America was no exception.

But as of late, I am beginning to wonder if my love of these movies is stemming from the movie being spectacular, or if the references to the other Marvel movies/comics, and the buildup to my most anticipated movie event of the decade (The Avengers) next year, is amplifying my excitement and enjoyment while watching it, thus biasing my opinion of the movie itself. For a nerdy, fan-boy like me, it is hard to distinguish whether it is the former or latter, or both.

With The Avengers slated for May 2012 (and the amazing teaser at the end of the Captain America credits) I can best liken the Marvel franchise of movies to a television show, with Iron Man proving to be an entertaining and humorous pilot episode, and Captain America being that tantalizing episode before the earth-shattering and epic season finale.

So attempting to put my biases aside, I still thought Captain America – The First Avenger was an exciting, poignant and all-around entertaining summer flick. Chris Evans was surprisingly good in this movie. I gained a lot more respect for him after his performance in Sunshine in 2007, and I think this superhero role fit him much better than the Human Torch in Fantastic Four. And Hugo Weaving was perfectly cast at the Red Skull.

Following Thor in May and its post-credit showing of the Cosmic Cube (which made me giddy with excitement at the time), it was interesting to see that the plot of Captain America provided some history of the object leading up to that post-Thor scene. When I saw that initially, I believed the Cosmic Cube would play into the plot of a future Thor film, especially since they show Loki in the scene, but I am not upset that the tesseract became the catalyst for HYDRAs attempt at world domination and the events of Captain America – The First Avenger.

Overall, there was a good blend of fanboy shout-outs, comedic moments, action, and character development. I really liked the art direction of the film and the way they portrayed 1940’s America during World War II. And I felt there was a good emphasis on character-driven storytelling rather than being completely plot focused. The action almost seemed secondary in the film, and I would call that a good thing (but the action was still awesome!).

Final question: Which one of the Asgardian realms do you think Red Skull got transported to?

Rating: A

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On a Book: Maximum Ride – The Angel Experiment

James Patterson is a master storyteller. He has a great ability to develop intrigue and anticipation via a cinematic approach and a building plot. His utilization of small chapters that jump between multiple characters and settings is very effective.

However, James Patterson is not a master wordsmith. Even with interesting stories, I tend to find his writing somewhat elementary. In his books for the adult market, I can manage because the plot is engaging enough for me to disregard the language, but in Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, Patterson’s dumbing down of his already basic language made the text almost impossible for me to get through.

I actually purchased this book years ago when it was originally released in 2004. I was a huge fan of When the Wind Blows and The Lake House so when I saw a Patterson book with a winged girl on the cover and “Maximum” in the title (the name of a main character in the former books), I immediately assumed it was the third of the series and bought it without question. It wasn’t until I got home and started reading it that I realized it was merely Patterson’s first attempt at entering the young adult book market using characters and concepts he developed for the earlier books. At the time, I was so disappointed that I shut the book and stuffed it on a shelf.

In 2009, I picked it up again. This time I failed to complete the book because of the language. I managed to come to terms with it being a new series, but the colloquial language and the stereotypical “teen” ramblings was at the time impossible for me to deal with. As such, the book was closed again and stored on the shelf.

Recently, I’ve been on another young adult fiction kick and I decided that I would get through the book, come hell or high water. As of last night, I have fulfilled my goal.

My take on it. It was alright. Unlike the other Patterson works I have read (which is a small sample, granted) I found this one not nearly as developed. Many things involving the history of the characters and the company were nonexistent. I felt many times that I was filling in those gaps from the information I garnered from When the Wind Blows and The Lake House, but to young readers who haven’t read them, I could see there being a wealth of unanswered questions once the book is finished.

Also, Patterson attempted to create a very telling and revealing climactic conclusion to this first book, but I found the entire ending lackluster, with a measly chase and a brief fight.I wanted, and was hoping for more, but felt disappointed once I’d read the final page. Perhaps the story advances drastically in book 2, but I’m unsure if I want to spend another seven years reading another book in this series.

This is definitely not one of Patterson’s shining pieces of work.

Rating C-/D+

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