Writer Wednesday – Jason Sizemore

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Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Tell us (briefly) about you…

Hello! I am Jason Sizemore. Most people know me as that one guy, the red head who runs Apex Publications. I’m also known in genre circles as an editor (I’ve picked up three Hugo Award nominations and one Stoker Award nomination for my editing work). I also publish and help edit the genre short fiction zine Apex Magazine.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
Over the past 10 years, I’ve been exclusively a short fiction author. I estimate I’ve had about 40 stories published. Recently, Stephen Zimmer of Seventh Star Press asked if I would like to submit a collection to him. He had read many of my stories over the years and felt it would make a good book. I was skeptical. Stephen and a collection of writer pals convinced me to go for it. The result is IRREDEEMABLE!

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m writing my first novel…okay, co-writing my first novel with Maurice Broaddus. It’s a fun collaboration. He brings the urban. I bring the rural. I’m collaborating on a story with Elaine Blose (it’s finished, looking for a home) and a story with Sara Price.

As you can tell, I’m big into collaborating right now.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
My first memory is being in first grade and reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and thinking “Now this is a book.”

What are your three favorite books?
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
I usually have three going at once. At home, I am reading Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago and Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, and the audiobook of The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
Allow my mind to relax and forget about the stresses of the day.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
I do not re-read because there are too many good books I haven’t read.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Very likely if the recommendation is from a friend whose tastes I trust.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Very likely, but I save the recommendations for books I feel are truly excellent.

Why do you write?
To purge the creative urges that builds up over time!

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
A professional videogame player.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Primarily from memories of my youth. Southeast Kentucky is filled with memorable and interesting people and places.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
They’re surprised by it. I’ve always been the editor/publisher person. Then they read my work and start asking questions like “Why do you like to write about such dark things?”

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
A big challenge for newbies involves understanding the options you have these days. Do you self-publish? Do you seek an agent and aim for New York? Is a small press right for you?

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Too numerous to list. *shakes head*

How do you deal with your fan base?
I give them hugs and love.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
I’m partially color blind! I know, I know, this is surprising due to my impeccable fashion sense and fantastic art skills (sarcasm meter set to maximum).

Anything else we should know?
You sure ask a lot of questions about me. Maybe I should ask YOU a question!
*turns spotlight on*
Okay now, where shall we begin…

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Book Review – Batman: Battle for the Cowl by Tony S. Daniel

Title:  Batman: Battle for the Cowl

Author:  Tony S. Daniel

Published: 2009

Format: Paperback

 

I will admit that I am reading this particular story arch rather backwards.  I started with Red Robin (which has become my obsession) who was searching for Batman because he didn’t believe he had died.  I have now branched out to read the store of the after math following Batman’s death that precursors Tim’s search for the Dark Knight.

In this story the “bat family” have enlisted and called upon the help of other super heroes to help keep Gotham in lines as it had turned to turmoil since the disappearance of Batman.  As the city and the super heroes try to recoup things continue to spiral downward through the void left by the lack of Batman.  These problems strongly indicate that there is a need for a new man to step up and take the mantle of Batman and stand for what he stood for.

Yet in this story the question remains as who?  The logical response would be for Nightwing aka Dick Grayson the first Robin to take the mantle but he is hesitant and while he hesitates, Tim Drake steps up to don the cowl as there is a need and there is another deranged being who has tried to take on the mantle of Batman but with a rather loose interpretation of Batman’s morals such as killing criminals rather than arresting them and using guns.  The question then sits who is this new poser as Batman, can the super heroes stop this man and keep Gotham in one piece as a gang war breaks out among many other near disastrous moments?

I admit that as I was reading this comic I was constantly turning from one page to the next to the next review pages over and over again taking in the great artwork and the meaning of what was going on.  This was a powerful story that I know I will probably read again.  My biggest complaint and is that there were characters in this story that I am less familiar with such as Squire.  I think it is cool that other super heroes came to help and I love the idea but my knowledge is limited to the world of batman.  There wasn’t major history that I needed and though I may not know anything about Squire I could still follow along with story and it really wasn’t a big problem.

Over all I would give this story a 4 out of 5.

 

BONUS

 

Title: Gotham Gazette

Author: Fabian Nicieza

Published: 2009

Format:  Paperback

 

At the end of Battle for the cowl was a bonus story called Gotham Gazette.  When I hit this particular story I was given pause as the art style and storytelling changed.  Additionally there was a strong focus on several tertiary characters to the Gotham and Batman story so I have very little reference point to work from which made the story rather confusing to me.  I read it any way as a lot of it was some of the after math to what happened in Battle for the Cowl.

 

This story was a lot more difficult to get through save for at the end when the characters I know such as Tim and Dick made an appearance it helped set up a bit for the Red Robin series.  Additionally toward the end the story was also leading to someone figuring out the Bat secret and that to me is an interesting story arch but it didn’t delve far into it leaving me almost hanging.  The story ended well and I understand it ending but it was disappointing for me to get interested in a plot that ends a bit prematurely and is carried on a bit in a different story.

 

Over all, I think I would give this bonus content a low three out of five pages.  It wasn’t bad enough for a two though I found the art style to be a bit odd and drab and the story to be a bit flat but it wasn’t terrible and it did give me some entertainment and helped to set up for the future stories that I have already read.

Bonus Post – Kingdom of Vosh Tour

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Okay, so…  Apparently I was supposed to review a book for a tour stop, and when they checked a couple days ago I realized that I never received the book.  Um.  So I had to come up with something, and I decided to stay in the spirit of both the holidays and this blog.  “Let him do a book review, I thought.  So I decided to ask the author one simple question.

What is your favorite holiday story?

I’ll admit that his answer wasn’t exactly what I was expecting (and, like all authors, he’s a bit long winded), but here ya go:

Picture for yourself a young man and woman, engaged but not yet fully committed and married. The young woman finds out that she is pregnant, which in itself is peculiar because the two have not come together in that fashion and she swears to him that she has known no other.  He doesn’t believe her though.  What fool does she take him for? He looks upon her with distrustful eyes now.  He loves her but his heart is broken and full of doubts.  He has decided to end the engagement but to do so secretly, without shaming her name and family.  A gentleman’s maneuver but it pains him deeply.

One night, while alone and in bed, he dreams of a Titan who comes to speak with him over the girl.  “She is special, and the child she carries will be the future King!  Do not leave her.  She has been faithful to you.  Give the child this name, a name above all others, for he will save many.”  The Titan tells him.  The young man awakens, startled over the words but believing the vision to be real he is relieved in his heart that she was true to him.

The man and woman soon leave thereafter, and head south to pay their dues to the current King.  The woman is ready to give birth now, but the city is full of travelers so there are no more rooms available.  In a last effort of desperation they ask a farmer passing by who tells them they can use his stable with the animals for the night.

Elsewhere that evening, not far from where the young girl travails, a group of shepherds minding their sheep are suddenly startled from the skies above.  Out of the cool night sky bursts forth an army of Titans!  Glorious light shown all around them, filling the air with brilliant wonder!  Horns and trumpets sounded their arrival and then a hush fell over them as one began to speak.

“Behold!  Your King has come!  May glory be to his wonderful name!  You will find him close by in a manger.  May peace and goodness come to all men.”

The host of Titans then vanished into the night, leaving the shepherds who witnessed the event speechless for a moment.  “We… we must go and find this King!”  One of them said.  They all agreed and quickly left their flock as they searched the town for the child.  A few found the newly born boy exactly where the Titans said. They then left and found the others and gathered them together at the stable.  Silently, as a cool breeze swept in through the thin, twisted boarding, they looked upon the young man named Joseph, his wife Mary, and the newly born King, the savior of the world….Jesus.

Now the above story sounds fantastical.  A virgin birth, an army of Titans (Angels), the Savior of the world, but this is no fantasy story.  This is of course the story of Christmas and what hundreds of millions if not billions of people are about to celebrate.  It is the reason for the season.  But perhaps you are skeptical.  Perhaps you do look on this as some made up fairy tale, passed down through the generations and squirreled away in some crusty old Bible.  I can’t convince you in a blog what to believe for yourself.  You are your own person and can make up your own dang mind.  You should be skeptical, about everything!

Through the spectacle, though, one shouldn’t miss the important message and it is from the words of the Angel that appears before the shepherds.  It is why this is my favorite holiday story.  It’s found in Luke 2:10-14 if you dare to look it up.  You won’t find words of hatred or malice.  They are not words of judgment or condemnation.   The message is peace and joy to all people.  The birth of Jesus is pronounced as a joyful occasion for the world, a message of love.

This time of year is not about tackling people over saving thirty bucks for a toaster oven.  It’s about helping those in need, showing the love to others that was shown to you and laying down a part of yourself as your gift at their feet.

You are a wonderment, a gift to behold and specially created by God above.  Those around you are equally special, equally crafted.  Don’t see them for the color of their skin or what fancy clothes they wear or what nation they are from. We are all children of God and should be treated as such.

I encourage you to find someone in need, someone lonely or hurting or troubled, and take a moment to be a blessing to their lives.  I hope you have a blessed Christmas and holiday this year and go read something good!

Jason C. Conley
Writer & artist for The Kingdom of Vosh: The Chained Princess

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