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Starving Interview: Michael Lachman, Author of A Spark Ignites

Hey everyone! Check out my interview on fellow author J.B. Garner’s blog!

J. B. Garner - Musings of a Starving Author

Good morning, my literary foodies!  This fine Friday, we start the day by sitting down in the kitchen with Michael Lachman, the chef behind today’s meal, A Spark Ignites.  Let’s see what is what!

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You Made a Mistake

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Obviously, before putting out a book, a writer will do everything within his or her power to make sure the product is as flawless as possible. That’s why its always a little embarrassing to be told that someone found an error in your book.

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However embarrassing it is, I find myself grateful to those who bother to let me know. Honestly, constructive criticism and being told how you can make your book better is far more useful than praise . As a writer, I want to put out the best book I can. But as a human, I’m prone to mistakes, and when it comes to my own writing, I can often be blind to it. So when something is pointed out to me that should be fixed, be it a typo, a factual error regarding the city layout, or a suggestion regarding possible stylistic improvements, I try to fix it as soon as I’m able. And what is amazing about digital and print on demand is that these errors can be fixed almost instantaneously.

Every writer wants to improve, but we can’t learn from our mistakes if we aren’t aware of them. Slight embarrassment is a small price to pay to put out a better book.

Book Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

516lvwmprbl-_sx303_bo1204203200_It’s no secret that Brandon Sanderson is a master of his craft, and The Stormlight Archive is his magnum opus. At first glance, the books are intimidating — with each one a 1000+ page brick. But don’t let that stop you. You’d be missing out on a fantasy series that rivals, and in many ways surpasses, A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones).

When I started to read the first book in the series, The Way of Kings, I was immediately turned off. The book begins with a prologue that in all honesty has no business being there. Half the words are made up, you have no idea what’s going on, and it doesn’t give you any information you don’t learn later on. I think including it was a huge misstep. Luckily, the book really picks up after that. The book focuses on several different characters, though it mostly spends time on three: Kaladin, a lowly former soldier, Dalinar, the king’s uncle, and Shallan, a girl from a lower, unimportant house. There’s politics, action, magic (with clearly defined rules),  deception, everything a fan of fantasy could want. Not everyone’s story is as interesting as you’d like, but there’s something there for everyone. (And Shallan’s story, which is arguably the most boring, really picks up toward the end of the book, and she’s given the most interesting story in the next one.)

What makes this book stand out compared to the other fantasy books out there is the world. Sanderson builds a world unlike anything I’ve ever read. This isn’t a world inspired by Tolkin (and that in and of itself is a rarity in the fantasy genre). The inhabitants, the societal norms, religions, money, animals, even plants and physics, all of it seems utterly alien and original. And yet (with the exception of the prologue) it is never unfolded too slow or too fast. You can’t help but become enamored with the world he created.

In short, The Way of Kings is not only an immensely entertaining book, but one of the most creative fantasy books I’ve ever read. If you like fantasy, check it out. Just be prepared to carve out a ridicules amount of time to finish each book, and then wait years for the next one. (Maybe the Song of Ice and Fire comparison is more accurate than I realized.)

Time Lost

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Every year on my birthday, I get well wishes, cards, and gifts. Even with all the celebration though, it is impossible not to think of my own mortality. While celebrating the day of my birth, I’m one year closer to death. And now I find myself closer to thirty than to twenty, a thought that scares me. Just ten years ago I was a clueless teenager, unable to imagine I’d ever get this far. My current age seemed forever away, as did marriage and children. But here I am, an old man (or so my sister-in-law tells me), who could become a father any day now. I’m not thinking of my own birthday, but the day of birth of my child. How can I be a father when I’m a child myself? How can the calendar tell me I’m an adult when I have never felt like one? How did I make it this far? Can I handle what’s just around the corner?

I thought I had more time.

Marketing Failures

A little while ago, I offered a short story ebook for free to anyone signing up for my mailing list. No one signed up. Not one person. I didn’t understand. I had people who view the post and even the mailing list page. Heck, the post that I announced I was giving away a free short story had numerous likes, yet no one signed up to the mailing list. Not a single person. Every time I would check to see if anyone signed up, there would be a this feeling in my stomach over overwhelming dread. And for good reason.

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Failing is horrifying. It reminded me of when I used to make animated shorts. I would spend months animating a little 4-7 minute animation, and I was lucky if I could get 50 views after a couple of months. What’s worst of all is seeing horrendous books and youtube videos that are way worse than mine, yet get more views or sell better. But every time, I lift myself up. And her I am again. Last week I released my first novel. Will it sell? I don’t know. It hasn’t been selling as well as I’d hoped up until now. I do have other marketing plans though, which I have not yet put into effect. Additionally, I’m still working on the second book, and they say the more books in your backlog, the better the series as a whole does. Here’s hoping there’s some truth to that. Unlike the mailing list idea, I’m not ready to write my book off as a failure. Not yet. But regardless, my failures will not define me, and I genuinely believe that with enough work and effort, I can make A Spark Ignites a success. I’m putting myself out there. Because I’m a creator, and that’s what creative people do. Failures be damned.

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Description:  Matt was just a regular teenager, dealing with homework, hormones, high school drama, and an obnoxious older brother. He found his life complicated, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle. Then, when Spark, the city’s greatest superhero unexpectedly dies, Matt finds himself in possession of the hero’s costume and gadgets, with a note asking him to carry on the legacy. Finding himself unable to refuse, he reluctantly begins his superhero career, hoping he can live up to the name of his predecessor. Not knowing the first thing about being a superhero, Matt soon finds himself overwhelmed. Will he find himself in an early grave, just like his hero?

Meanwhile, an aging supervillain, the Inventor, creates a powerful device capable of killing thousands. An elaborate plan is put in motion that could lead to the destruction of everything Matt holds dear. Will he be able to figure out the how to stop him in time? And when evidence arises which indicates that Spark’s death may not be the accident everyone believes it is, Matt finds himself consumed with trying to uncover the truth. Will he be able to get to the bottom of this mystery? And if so, will he be able to handle the dark reality behind it?

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A Spark Ignites by Michael Lachman – Guest Post

Check out this guest post I did on iamavig.com!

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Almost two years into this blog, we bring you the first guest post, from writer Michael Lachman. You can find his blog over at michaellachmanwrites.com.


I’ve known Avi Greenberger for over half a decade. I’ve known Spark over three times that. Spark is the main character in A Spark Ignites, my superhero novel, which is out today for purchase on Amazon in both ebook and paperback. Why did it take well over fifteen years (nearly 20) to turn an idea in my head into a book? Well, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Over the years I’ve made half-finished comics, horrible and decent animated cartoons, and barely playable video games based on Spark. With the exception of some truly embarrassing animated cartoons, I never finished any of them. I was never happy with my work, and would always scrap it and start from the beginning. As time…

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A Spark Ignites – Now on Sale!

A Spark Ignites is now on sale in Kindle and Paperback! Please help support my writing by buying my first book. Not sure if you want to buy it, or just don’t have any money at the moment? No problem! There’s a short story set within the same universe that’s now available on Amazon absolutely free!

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Description:  Matt was just a regular teenager, dealing with homework, hormones, high school drama, and an obnoxious older brother. He found his life complicated, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle. Then, when Spark, the city’s greatest superhero unexpectedly dies, Matt finds himself in possession of the hero’s costume and gadgets, with a note asking him to carry on the legacy. Finding himself unable to refuse, he reluctantly begins his superhero career, hoping he can live up to the name of his predecessor. Not knowing the first thing about being a superhero, Matt soon finds himself overwhelmed. Will he find himself in an early grave, just like his hero?

Meanwhile, an aging supervillain, the Inventor, creates a powerful device capable of killing thousands. An elaborate plan is put in motion that could lead to the destruction of everything Matt holds dear. Will he be able to figure out the how to stop him in time? And when evidence arises which indicates that Spark’s death may not be the accident everyone believes it is, Matt finds himself consumed with trying to uncover the truth. Will he be able to get to the bottom of this mystery? And if so, will he be able to handle the dark reality behind it?

A Spark IgnitesKindlePaperback

My Favorite Comics (Part 2): Batman Edition

Continuing from my previous post, I will be looking at my favorite Batman comics, in preparation for Batman 5 Superman.

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Batman: Year One
A classic origin tale. Yes, it’s a story you already know (unless you’re my wife, who thought Batman was raised by bats), but it’s still a Batman must-read. There was an animated movie of the same name made, which was a shot-for-shot recreation of the comic.

Batman: The Long Halloween and Dark Victory
Two great mystery stories that are best read together, and pick up on threads from Batman: Year One, as well as including the origin of Two-Face and Robin.

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Batman: Under the Red Hood
A great story about the return of an old Batman character  though it’s much better to read this after reading Batman: A Death in the Family, as it builds directly off that. There’s also a PG-13 animated movie version that’s arguably better than the comic, and incorporates the relevant parts of Death in the Family.

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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
A classic Batman story set in the future with Bruce as an old man. This redefined Batman, making him dark and serous at a time he was associated with campiness. There’s a PG-13 animated movie of the same name that is basically a shot for recreation of the comic, and runs at over two hours long. The Dark Knight Returns and Batman 5 Superman also seem to be based loosely on this comic.

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Paul Dini’s Batman

Paul Dini was a writer for the brilliant Batman: The Animated Series. He wrote a number of amazing issues of Detective Comics, with most of the stories being really enjoyable one-and-done stories that can easily be enjoyed by first time readers and fans alike. His short stories are collected in Batman: Detective,Batman: Death and the City, and Batman: Private Casebook. He also wrote the fantastic Batman: Mad Love, Batman: Harley Quinn, and Batman: Harley and Ivy. A number of his stories (although not even close to half) have been adapted into episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, often with the adaptations being just as good, if not better.

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Grant Morrison’s Batman

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This is the most confusing comic on the list. You’ve got to have intimate knowledge of the DC Universe to enjoy this one, and it’ll require lots of flipping back to earlier stories as his entire 7-year story. It introduces a new Robin, two new Batmen (including one of my favorite), and draws from every era of Batman. The story starts off in ‘Batman and Son’ and continues into ‘Batman: The Black Glove’ (both of which are included together in Batman and Son: New Edition for a significantly cheaper price) Then there’s Batman RIP, the admittedly very confusing Final Crisis, Batman and Robin Volume 1 and Volume 2, Time and the Batman, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, Batman and Robin Volume 3Batman Inc. volume 1, then another volume 1 (confusing, isn’t it?) and finally volume 2, to finish off the story. Some of this story have been adapted into various animated movies, but they range from awful to merely mediocre. Stick to the comics for this one.

This is far from a completed list, but it’s enough for now. Do you have any favorite Batman or Superman comics?

My Favorite Comics (Part One): Superman Edition

In honor of Batman 5 Superman coming out this month (which, if Man of Steel is any indication, will be awful), I’ve decided to share my favorite Batman and Superman comics with you. This list will cover my favorite Superman comics, with my favorite Batman comics coming in another post.

41hajjckawl-_sx311_bo1204203200_Superman: Secret Identity
This is one of my favorite comics ever. It’s a comic anyone can pick up with no knowledge of Superman at all. It’s technically not even about Superman, but rather some guy named Clark Kent living in a world where Superman comics exist, and he’s often mocked for his name. The twist is, he actually has super-powers. This is not a superhero story, however. There’s no villain. It’s simply a story about life and growing up. The story starts with young Clark still in high school, and goes through romance, marriage  kids, and eventually grandkids  Its a beautiful, touching story. If you’ll only read one Superman comic book, this should be it.

“Maybe I had a ‘secret identity,’ but then when you think about it, don’t we all? A part of ourselves very few people ever get to see. The part we think of as ‘me.’ The part that deals with the big stuff. Makes the real choices. The part everything else is a reflection of.” — Clark Kent

51kvincrz9l-_sx325_bo1204203200_Superman: Red Sun
An Elseworlds tale, asking what if Superman had landed in Soviet Russia instead of Kansas. It’s a fun story with an amazingly clever ending. Its interesting to see Superman as the villain, plus Russian Batman is totally awesome. Oh, and commie Superman is STILL a better Superman than Man of Steel’s.

51og2bkd9kkl-_sx301_bo1204203200_Superman: Birthright
My favorite re-telling of the origin of Superman. This is everything Man of Steel should have been. Instead we got a murderous Superman who didn’t care about saving lives, ruined someone’s livelihood for insulting him, and likes to make out with women he just met when human ash is raining down all around him. Idiots.

51aj58tawbl-_sx318_bo1204203200_All-Star Superman
This comic by Grant Morrison is about Superman’s end. It’s something of a possible ending to the pre-Crisis Superman comics (the more outlandish Superman comics that came out pre-1985). It’s a touching story about Superman being tricked by Lex Luthor and succumbing to what’s basically some sort of ‘super-cancer’ and follows the last few months of Superman’s life, and how he lives knowing his end is near. An animated movie of the same name exists as well. It it’s good, but not as good as the comic.

61o7orlbv3l-_sx353_bo1204203200_The Death/Funeral/Return of Superman
These were some of the first comics I read, and its responsible for getting me into comics. While continuity heavy, it’s definitely worth a read. It’s about the time Superman died (as opposed to the time he made us all feel dead inside *coughmanofsteelcough*). An animated version of this movie exists as well, titled Superman: Doomsday. It isn’t as good, but still watchable. About halfway through it goes off in a totally different direction.

51uhk9qemll-_sx323_bo1204203200_Superman/Batman: Volume 1: Public Enemies & Supergirl
A fun couple of stories where Batman and Superman team up, one of which is also the origin of Supergirl. It’s really enjoyable because of the contrast in the two characters personalities. (How they’ll pull off a cross-over in Batman 5 Superman, with both of them being brooding, dark, angst-machines and still make it compelling, I don’t know.) Both Public Enemies and Supergirl have been turned into animated movies, titles Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. Public Enemies is actually slightly better than the comic it’s adapted from, but Apocalypse pales in comparison.

 

This is far from a completed list, but it’s enough for now. Do you have any favorite Superman comics?