Hey folks!  First and foremost, let me start by apologizing for missing last month’s blog.  As it turns out, July proved to be quite the busy month around the Malone house, and honestly it was all I could do to find time for Red Sky Dawning (otherwise known as RSD or Mako: Book 2) much less a blog.  Nevertheless, excuses are like… well, you know the drill.

On the upside, though, next month’s blog will most likely be penned from my ATL-hotel room between panels at DRAGON CON!!!  
Alrighty, and away we go!
The Mako Audiobook continues to rock
I want to give a major shout-out to anyone and everyone who has supported the Mako audiobook.  As I’ve said before, while seeing Mako go live as an ebookwas quite the thrill, it paled in comparison for me personally to that of the audiobook.  As someone who has been legally blind since the first grade, audio has been, and always will be, mymedium—now more than ever in the age of mp3 players and smartphones where one can quite literally carry a library in his or her pocket.  Thus, it goes without saying that seeing my little contribution to the sci-fi community perform as well as it has on Audible, iTunes, Amazon, etc. has been pretty awesome.
Seriously gang, thanks for that.
Summer movie surprise
Hats off to Director Extraordinaire Guillermo del Toro for delivering what was—for my money—the best surprise of the 2013 Summer Movie Season: Pacific Rim.  As I told my cover designer in a recent email, It’s ginormous sci-fi fun with an interesting take on the classic monster movie premise, but with all the heart, humor, and quirky charm of del Toro movies like Hellboy.  Plus, as Sons of Anarchy fan will attest, having Charlie Hunnam and Ron Perlman on the same cast is just never a bad thing.
Listen, did I enjoy Man of Steel?  Absolutely (see my June blog post).  The Wolverine?  Yep, possibly the best X-Men movie since X2.  Oblivion, World War Z, Iron Man 3,  Star Trek: Into Darkn— 
**coughs and gags profusely**
Sorry guys.  The old-school Treker in me just can’t abide the last one, but it’s whatever.
Anyway, the point is there were lots of great movies this summer, but as has been pointed out on a myriad blogs, commentaries, editorials, and social media feeds, the vast majority of them are sequels and or reboots.  Rim offered something fresh and exciting, with new characters and a new universe, that audiences could sit back in their theater-chairs, drenched in popcorn butter and Diet Coke, to be dazzled by.
For the record, del Toro was the only guy in filmmaking who could’ve pulled this off, too.  Anyone else would’ve spiked it straight in the jock strap, but GDT understands this brand of entertainment.  It’s not a franchise like Transformers or Marvel, nor is it a political statement like District 9 or the aforementioned Into Darkness.  It’s just good, old-fashioned, fanboy fun on a scale that’s often botched and rarely seen well in today’s movie marketplace.
As summer movie season ends, Con season begins
As noted earlier, Atlanta’s Dragon Con is right around the corner on Labor Day weekend, and Smalls (my wife) and I are stoked!  To date, we’re up to two cosplay themes for the weekend: Mako, of course, and Chuck, one of our all-time favorite TV shows.  So, if you happen to spot a bald head in tigerstripe camo and a garnet FSU football jersey floating through the crowd near the Sheraton… well, know that’s probably me, so do stop by and say hi. 
Besides, one never knows what kind of swag the author might have in his pack.  Just sayin’!  😉
After that, it’s back home to the Triangle where the good folks at The Escapist Magazinewill be hosting their annual Escapist Expo in downtown Durham Oct. 4-6.
Okay guy, that’s it for now.  I’m off to wrap another chapter of RSDand get some odds and ends done around the house before the fam gets here for a cookout this afternoon.  As always, thanks for checking in, stay tuned to my Facebook and Twitter feeds for pics from Dragon Con this Labor Day, and talk soon. 
PS- Had time to check out Stephen King’s Joyland while on the road last month… a good read for those who like King, but don’t want an 1100-page marathon like Under the Dome.

Greetings and salutations, gang!  I do hope your summer is rolling along swimmingly… you know, with the swimming!  😉
As is typically the case this time of year, the Malone household is quite abuzz with activity.  Cookouts, pool parties, church stuff, summer movie season… pretty much anything is fair game right now for entertainment.  We shall begin this month’s edition of the Manifesto, however, with the latter. 
Man of Steel
As a lifelong nerd and child of the 80s, I was practically raised on Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie and Superman II.  Truth be told, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve uttered the phrase, “kneel before Zod,” it’s probable Id’ have jettisoned my day-job years ago in favor of full-time novelizing on a beach.  Alas, a guy can dream, right?
In the years since Sups II, we’ve waited long and hard for this character to rise from the ashes of “Nuclear Man” (to this day, I still want to punch that dork in his loin cloth) and return to the prominence he deserves as the undisputed King Daddy of the superhero-verse.  To his credit, I thought Bryan Singer (X-Men/X2) made a fair go of it with 2006’s Superman Returns.  But, most agree that, wonderfully nostalgic as it was, SR was still little more than a Donner knockoff.  
… and then, this dude named Christopher Nolan came along and forever changed the landscape of DC movies with a little film called Batman Begins, a triumph of cinematic storytelling which was only eclipsed by Nolan’s magnum opus, The Dark Knight.
Now fast-forward to 2013, and here we are yet again—wanting once more to believe “that a man can fly.”  Well folks, I’ve got news for you: Sups does a helluva lot more than that in Man of Steel… 
The script that writer David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight) has crafted, combined with the stunning visuals of director Zack Snyder (300/Watchmen), makes for a Superman origin story unlike anything you’ve seen before with regard to depth.  Rather than sounding the trumpets as our beloved hero flies in to save the day, this story seeks to answer the question “what would it do to a person to grow up being THAT different from EVERYONE else?”  It was a major gamble on the part of Warner Brothers, the likes of which can kill a tent-pole franchise if it fails (see the stink bomb that was Star Trek: Into Darkness).  But it paid off, and Superman as a character is all the better for it.
Listen, MOSisn’t a perfect film.  Great as it is, the plot does have a few holes, it drags in places, and the size of some of the action sequences teeters on excessive.  But for die-hard Sups fans like myself who have waited years to see our favorite “Big Blue Boy Scout” return to glory, this was the movie we needed.  
Great story, phenomenal cast (led by Henry Cavil), and fantastic direction.  That, friends… is my take on Man of Steel.  
Red Sky Dawningupdate
The second book in the Mako saga took a pretty major step forward this week in that, despite my already being a third of the way through the first draft, I still had no real clue how to open the story.  I got so many compliments on the prologue from Mako, and trying to replicate that was driving me nuts!
As always, though, the writing process has a funny way of working these things out when and if stubborn, impatient, pig-headed, Type-A authors like me will just shut up and let it.  It happened before with Jon Reiser’s log entry in Mako, and thankfully, it’s happened again here with RSD
“So what is it, already?” you ask…  
Well, let’s just say that part of the fun of writing a series is that you get to climb back into your old sandbox and start fleshing out certain aspects of the story that only warranted a brushstroke before—only now they get to explode into pivotal portions of the saga mythology.
Too cryptic?  Go back and re-read Chapter 16 of Mako… that’s all I’ll say for now.  😉
Parting Shots…
Ever since the Star Wars Episode VII news starting flying across the net, I’ve really had an itch to delve back into the expanded universe. That continued last week with Darth Plagueisfrom James Luceno (Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader).  In essence, this is the story of Palpatine’s rise to power among the Sith, a tale which parallels the rise and fall of the Muun who mastered him, Darth Plagueis.  I’m about halfway through it now, but so far it’s classic Luceno… very dark, very political, and very much the story of an anti-hero.
Translation: I dig the bejeezus out of it!
Okay folks, that’s gonna do it for this edition.  Enjoy your weekend, have a wonderful Fourth of July, and catch ya next month!!!
PS- For those of you who wanted to give my book a read but weren’t sure you wanted to shell out the $5, you’ll be happy to hear that my good friends at the World Literary Café have honored me by making Makothe book of the week via their “Free E-book Friday” promotion.  That’ll drop next week (Friday, June 28), so stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter the day of for the coupon code.

Welcome to summertime, folks, and the latest edition of the Manifesto.  Man oh man, how much do I love this time of year?  Beaches, barbeques, buddies, and beers… pretty much my mantra for the next four months.  Throw in the summer movie season, the summer concert series (Dropkick Murphys and John Mayer this year… BAM!), plus the start of NFL training camps in late-July, and it’s no wonder why guys love this time of year. 
Suffice it to say, lots happening right now in the Malone house, not the least of which is official release of the Mako audiobook (now available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes) and the ongoing development of Book 2 in the series: Red Sky Dawning.  That means this month’s blog is of the shorter variety.  That said, I did want to take a moment to answer a handful of questions I’ve received in recent weeks.  So, here goes…

Question: What inspired you to use video gaming as a launching off point for Mako?
Answer: I grew up on films like “Tron” and “The Last Starfighter,” and while I always thought the whole “video game to reality” thing was a neat plot device, that really began to hit me as I got older and video gaming evolved from titles like “Contra” and “After Burner” into what it is now with “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft.”  Add to that the fact that various branches of the military are actually using gaming as a training tool in present day, and it seemed like the time was right to tell a story like this one.  Enter: Mako Assault.

Question: What character from Mako was the hardest to write?
Answer: That’s sort of a toss-up between Link and Masterson.  On one hand, Link was a challenge because I wanted him to be crass, but not so much that he wasn’t likable in his own right. On the other hand, villains are a tough lot to crack.  I really wanted the commandant to be ruthless, but with purpose and meaning — not just “okay Reader Smith; here’s my cookie-cutter bad guy!  Go hate him now!”  Hence, the epilogue.
Question: What’s the biggest challenge about being a writer? 

Answer: Time, without a doubt.  As much as I love writing fiction, I do have a day job and a family, both of which are major priorities in my life.  Thus, finding an hour of uninterrupted writing time can occasionally be tough.  But, you set a deadline, you carve out your schedule, and you stick to it… even if it means getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning to write.  Side Note: Coffee is your friend… 
Question: Do you have any advice for beginning writers? 

Answer: Two points:
·        Manage your time: Set a writing schedule as best you can and stick to it, otherwise nothing ever gets done. 
·        Read as much as humanly possible: I minored in creative writing in college, and while I learned a lot, nothing teaches me how to be a writer like reading (fiction, non-fiction, and every genre in between for both), then practicing the craft myself.
Question: What books have most influenced your writing?
Answer: Hard to go wrong with Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” for SF, or Jonathan Maberry’s “Patient Zero” for pure, hard-charging action.  When it comes to characters, though, nobody does it like Stephen King.  His are so rich, and so textured, and you just can’t help but fall head-over-heels in love with them, or hate them with every fiber of your being depending on whichever the author wants you to feel. 
I don’t care if you like horror or not, that guy’s a master.
Question: What have you read lately?
Answer: I’m reading Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series right now, but prior to that I picked up Lisa Gardner’s latest crime thriller, Touch and Go… probably the best book I’ve read so far this year, if you like that genre.  Even if you don’t, I dare you to put it down after the opening chapter.  Really, really well done. 
Alright gang, that’s gonna do it for this time.  Everyone take care, have a great Memorial Day weekend, and please take a moment to remember why we have this holiday — the brave men and women of the American Armed Forces who keep us safe so we can enjoy it!  
Until next time…. RUAH!!!!

Hello again, everyone, and welcome back for another edition of the Mako Manifesto!

As I sit here in front of my computer, lacing up my sneakers for yet another agonizing trot through the land of sweat, shin splints, and pollen, it occurs to me that perhaps I should stop being so selfish with my ever-pressing desire for pre-summer weight-loss, and instead devote that time to keeping you informed on all things Makoverse!  (HAAA… I do love it when I can rationalize procrastination!)
So, here goes…
Book Two Update

With my vacation to Florida now in the rearview, I’m back in NC and officially off to the races with the second book in the Mako trilogy.  Presently under the working title of Red Sky Dawning, (Stormfront was just too blah), the story will pick up some years after the events of Mako, and delve heavily into the stories of some of the other characters, as well as the real nuts and bolts of the war.  Fear not, though… everyone is back, as are a handful of new characters, one of whom just so happens to be named Summerston.  😉
Makotakes to audio

As an avid reader/listener of audiobooks, this is something I’m REALLY stoked about.  I’ve partnered with the good folks at Audiobook Creative Exchange (a branch of Amazon) and ABW Voiceoversto have Mako produced into an audiobook.  To date, we’re about halfway through the production process, and if all goes well, Mako should hit Audible, Amazon, and the iTunes Store sometime in May/June respectively. 
Stay tuned!
Makoin the news

It’s always fun to see one’s name in lights, though that’s particularly true when those lights are powered by the school paper of one’s alma mater.  As it turns out, the good folks at the FSView (my college paper from Florida State) took enough of an interest in me and my quirky little sci-fi project to pen a story on us.  Contents covered include a brief bio on my time at the school, a few blurbs about the book, some post-graduation advice to students, and finally some really nice tidbits on the charitiesI support.  
You can find the article in the Press Roomon my website, or by simply clicking here.
Random musings: 2013 NFL Draft

Say what you will about Geno Smith, this year’s crop of quarterbacks is pretty weak, especially given the strength of last year’s.  That said, I’m gonna step out on a limb here and say my boy E.J. Manuel would look pretty snazzy in a Jaguars uniform if he’s still on the board at the top of the second round.  I know, I know, I bagged on the Jags pretty hard in my book (what do you expect from a lifelong Buccaneer?) but all jokes aside, Manuel was incredibly underutilized in his senior season at FSU, and while there are definite holes in his game, I firmly believe he could excel in a read-option system like the one Gus Bradley saw in Seattle with Russell Wilson.  Add to that the bargain price he’ll go for outside of the first round—not to mention the fact that Blaine Gabbert is total crap—and Jax would be stupid not to give E.J. a hard look at pick 33.
On the other hand, Jacksonville could just as easily go the route of Matt Barkley from USC, in which case expect the jokes to continue flying, both around the league and in my books.  Just sayin.’
Alright folks, this 80-degree heat ain’t gettin’ any cooler, and I’ve gotta squeeze in a run before the fam gets home; so let me jet!  Thanks as always for checking in, hope all is well wherever you are, and don’t forget to throw up an extra prayer tonight for the good people of Boston, and everyone else touched by the horrific events at this year’s marathon.
God bless, Beantown.

Greetings, one and all, to the official re-launch of The Mako Manifesto.  We’ve waited a while for this one, have we not?
Well, it’s finally here… the story that took me three and a half years to finish…
***deep pensive sigh*** Yeah, that was a thing!
So, now that the cat named “Mako” is officially out of the bag, I realize some folks have questions, be it about me, or the series, or where both go from here.  Thus, in the days, weeks, and months ahead, I’ll use a good chunk of the space here to keep people abreast of all things Renegades — with the occasional rant about sports, music, movies, food, and books, of course!  😉  
The little story with a mighty kick
Before I go any further, I have to give a MAJORshout-out to anyone and everyone who has sprung for a copy of Mako so far.  To say that the book’s success has exceeded my expectations is… well, quite possible the greatest understatement of my life, and that’s all because of YOU!
Every writer hopes their work finds an audience when it hits the market — and I was no different — but a top-five ranking on Kindle’s military sci-fi best seller’s list?  Seriously?
Listen, it goes without saying that I love this story, for more reasons than could ever be summed up on a blog post.  I wrote Makoat a time in my life when not much was going right.  I was unemployed, my career was in the toilet, and to be blunt — I was miserable.  I needed an escape, plain and simple, and this quirky little story became that escape.  Had it never sold a copy, I’d have forever been grateful to it for that.
Now, however, I have something else to be grateful for… you guys, the ones who quite literally made Mako“fly.”
Soooooo… now what?
Trying to stay as spoiler-free as possible, I think most would agree that it’d be pretty frickin’ cruel of me to leave things the way that I did in Book 1 without having a plan for what comes next, right?  (That, and the whole “Book 1” thing is kind of a giveaway, but I digress.)
So is there more?
***flashes wry smile*** Oh yeah, there’s more.
While Mako was originally environed as a one-off piece about Lee Summerston and his friends, it picked up steam during the drafting process and continued to grow… and grow, and grow, and grow some more, until finally I had the mythological makings of, what else?  A trilogy!!!
Right now, I’m staying pretty busy with the press push for Mako, but in the weeks to come, I’ll head back to my desk — coffee cup and sunflower seeds in-hand — to begin work on Book 2 in the series… a story which, at present,  is tentatively being called Stormfront.  (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to which character steps up in this one!)
The clock is ticking
Will this book take three friggin’ years, you ask?  No, not at all. 
Bear in mind, from the day I began Mako to the time it hit Amazon, I changed jobs twice (sadly, fiction writing is not all I do for a living), moved three times in two states, got married, became a parent, learned to write for sighted readers (I’m legally blind, so I live on audio), plus there was also the matter of finding beta readers, editors, ebook producers, etc.  Now that all of that is done and in place, the rest of the series should come relatively unimpeded.  So stay tuned…
Okay gang, that’s gonna do it for this installment of the Manifesto.  This chicken isn’t gonna cook itself for dinner, and I’ve got a new spice rub I’ve been itching to test out; so let me jet.  Everyone take care, have a great weekend, and I’ll see you around Twitter!!!