Friday, March 27, 2009

I AM a Tie-In Writer!

As the little glyph off to the left (and above, in this post) shows, I'm a proud member of the 150+ member strong IAMTW, the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. We're the gals and guys who write novelizations and original books based on movies, TV shows, video games, comic books, and other media properties. Among are number are such bestselling authors as James Rollins, Max Allan Collins, Donald Bane, Jeff Marriotte, Raymond Benson and Nancy Holder.

Like all such groups, we hand out awards, in our case, the Scribes, honoring excellence in licensed tie-in writing. 2009 marks the third annual Scribes, nominees for which were just announced by our fearless leader and co-founder, Lee Goldberg. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at Comicon in San Diego in July.

Best General Fiction Original
BURN NOTICE: THE FIX by Tod Goldberg

Best General Fiction Adapted
THE WACKNESS by Dale C. Phillips
X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE by Max Allan Collins

Best Speculative Fiction Original
STARGATE SG-1: HYDRA by Holly Scott & Jamie Duncan

Best Speculative Fiction Adapted

Best Young Adult Original
DR. WHO: THE EYELESS by Lance Parkin

Best Young Adult Adapted
IRON MAN: THE JUNIOR NOVEL by Stephen D. Sullivan
THE DARK KNIGHT: THE JUNIOR NOVEL by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohen

Grandmaster Award
The highest honor the IAMTW can bestow is the Grandmaster Award, which recognizes a writer for his or her extensive and exceptional work in the tie-in field. This year's honoree is Keith R.A. DeCandido. He has written over thirty novels, most of them original tie-ins or novelizations. His work includes many Star Trek novels, as well as original books in the CSI: NY and Supernatural tie-in series, to name just a few.

Congratulations to all our nominees. I urge you to run right out and pick up as many of the above mentioned books as you can lay your hands on. As a judge in the Best General Fiction Adapted category, I can tell you there's not a bum read in the lot! I'm proud to call some of these people friends and honored to be considered a colleague by the rest.

You're also invited to check out website and learn more about the organization and the many fine people who fill its ranks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yada Yada Yada

How I do go on...and on.

This week, over on the fine, I go on about the writer's 'voice,' the way we try to say whatever it is we have to say in our own, distinctive way:

"Writers also have voices, or at least they should if they’re worth anything. Young writers have older writer’s voices that they borrow and, if they have any talent, build upon to find their own voice. Older writers work a long time to hold on to whatever voice they ultimately find and keep it fresh and nurture it along to maturity along with their lives and their writing."

JSA: The Novel, Part 3

In 2005 I wrote a novel, JSA: Ragnarok, which was to be published by Byron Preiss' iBooks. Byron's tragic death in an car accident ended iBooks and, while the company's assets were bought by a new owner, the fate of Ragnarok remains up in the air. I've run an excerpt or two here in the past. Here's another, from a chapter set in May 1945:

JSA and all related characters and elements © DC Comics

Sandy Hawkins, in blue slacks and a white shirt with rolled up sleeves, turned the corner onto the Coney Island side street where Wes had parked and now waited by the car after ditching his Sandman get-up and Sandy’s Golden Boy costume.

Wesley closed the trunk of his 1936 Duesenberg SJ coupe. He checked the knot of his tie in the gleaming chrome bumper, then waved at Sandy.

“I brought you something,” said Sandy, handing Wesley a hot dog covered in mustard and sauerkraut. “I ate mine on the way over, I was starving.”

“It’s...what is it? A hot dog?” Wesley asked, scrutinizing the assemblage of foods in his hand.

“It’s not just a hot dog. It’s a Nathan’s.”

Wesley looked at him.

“You never heard of Nathan’s?”

Wesley shook his head.

“You’ve been to Coney Island before, right?”

“Of course.”

“And you’ve never had a Nathan’s hot dog?”

“We usually catered our little jaunts.”

“You’re trying to tell me that in your entire life, you’ve never had a Nathan’s hot dog?”

Wesley shrugged.

“You’re that rich?”

“I am that rich,” Wesley grinned and took a massive bite of the frankfurter and kraut. “And you are that gullible, my friend. I’ve been downing Nathan’s dogs, only the best frankfurter in the known world, since I was a third your age.”

Sandy laughed. “I knew you had to be kidding me.”

“No you didn’t. Listen, kid, just because I happen to be filthy, stinking rich doesn’t mean I’m not human. What’d you think, they fed me lobsters and caviar when I was a kid?” Wesley took another bite of the hot dog. “And if you know so much about fine dining, how could you even think of coming back here without any of their french fries?”

“I couldn’t carry it all and eat at the same time. Guess we’ll just have to go back for them.”

“Let’s go, kid,” Wesley said, popping the last bit of hot dog in his mouth. “The next round’s on me.”

* * *

Several hot dogs, fries, cotton candy, rides, popcorn, attractions, and ice cream later, Wesley and Sandy found an empty bench on the boardwalk. It was too early in the season for sunbathers and swimmers, but strollers filled the beach, many of them young and in uniform, hand in hand with wives or girlfriends, watching younger siblings or their own children, gathered in groups, all celebrating the end of the part of the conflict that required they wear those uniforms.

“Wesley,” Sandy said.

“What, kid?” Wesley couldn’t remember the last time he had been this tired this early in the day. Tromping up and down the boardwalk, waiting in endless lines to mount dizzying rides and pass through goofy funhouses, eating all that food that tasted so good but was so bad for you...unless you were a thirteen-year-old boy with an endless capacity for getting dizzy and eating junk. His stomach was begging for a bromo, his pants felt too tight and his feet were hot and throbbing.

“Thanks,” Sandy said. “This was a lot of fun.”

“Well,” Wesley said, suddenly not quite so bothered by his sour stomach and aching feet, “that was the plan.”

“Sure, but you know what it’s like for guys like us.”

“Guys like us?”

“You know, mystery men guys. I mean, before we could even ride the Cyclone, which is only the best roller coaster in the world, we had to go chase after that Bullwhip goon.”

Wesley nodded. “It’s not easy, Sandy, I know. Everyone else gets to go on with their lives while we have to break off from ours to do what we do.”

“Don’t get me wrong, Wes,” the blond boy said earnestly. “I wouldn’t trade being Sandman’s partner for anything, but it’s just that me and you don’t get to spend a lot of time together, y’know, when I’m not the Sandman’s partner.”

“Just plain Sandy, huh?”

“And Wes. Yep.”

“Okay, Sandy.”

“Thanks, Wes.”

They watched the waves roll onto the beach for a while.



“You’ve been dating Aunt Dian for a long time now, haven’t you?”

Wesley, his eyes closed as the sun warmed his face, said, “Did your aunt get you to badger me to marry her?”

Sandy’s laugh was a short, amused bark. “If Aunt Dian was that crazy to get married, she would just ask you herself.”

“Yes,” Wesley said. “Yes, she would. And, yes, we have been seeing one another for...well, we met at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Half a dozen years. And, yes, I do love her madly and completely and, I suppose, one day we will get married but so far neither of us is in a rush. Plus, I might add, I’m rather pleased that she has a nephew who, for a pain in the neck, is otherwise a pretty swell kid.”

Wesley glanced at Sandy, who looked straight ahead, but now with a big grin on his face.

“A bunch of us in the JSA were talking earlier in the week,” the older man said. “We all agreed that with the war winding down, now would be a good time to spend less time as our costumes and more time as ourselves. I know almost everything about Sandy, the Golden Boy, but I couldn’t even tell you Sandy Hawkins’ favorite baseball team.”

“The Giants,” Sandy said.

“Ouch,” Wesley winced. “Yankees here...although sometimes, and usually in secret, I’ve been known to root for the Brooklyn bums from time to time.”

Sandy looked up in surprise. “Me, too! Even when the Dodgers play the Giants, I hate to see ‘em stomped too bad.”

“All right, then,” Wesley said, “we’ll alternate between Giants and Yankee games...and an occasional Dodgers every month or so. Agreed?”

Sandy shook his hand. “Deal!”

“Next, favorite authors?”

Sandy grinned. “Who’s the guy who writes the General Glory comic book?”

“At last,” Wesley said in mock relief, “something we can agree on!”

* * *

The Duesenberg’s 240-hp engine rumbled happily under the hood as they idled at the traffic light on Surf Avenue, parallel to the Boardwalk.

The day had, Wes thought, been a complete success. Sandy was a good kid with a lot of heart and it was high time Wes started treating him as such and not as just another tool in his crime-fighting arsenal. He should, in fact, encourage the boy to spend more time being a kid instead of saddling himself with the grown-up responsibilities of catching criminals and defeating despots. Besides, what if something were to happen to him during one of their adventures? When Sandy had first joined the Sandman just a few short years ago, the world had been such a different place. Now, the war had somehow upped the ante and made it that much more dangerous. Bad guys were no longer disposed to surrender so quickly, the weapons seemed to have gotten bigger, and the costumed villains were turning insane and seriously dangerous.

Wesley said nothing of this to Sandy. Why ruin a great afternoon with something so serious? And the kid had had a ball, that’s for sure. Sandy had no father, no big brother to look up to. And here was Wesley Dodds, bachelor, man-about-town, bon vivant...auditioning for the part. Was he a sap or what?

Wesley glanced to his left as he waited for the light to turn green. He was stopped in front of the Half Moon Hotel, a rundown fleabag with a history. “See that place?” Wes asked, pointing to the painted brick façade. “About a month before Pearl Harbor, New York’s D.A. William O’Dwyer had a Murder Inc. stool pigeon named Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles under police custody in the Half Moon.”

“I read about Reles,” Sandy said. “His testimony was supposed to send half the Brooklyn mob to the chair.”

“He helped get a few convicted, until someone pushed him out of the sixth floor window. They called him ‘the canary who could sing but couldn’t fly.’”

“I guess the only thing worse than a crook is a crook who turns rat, huh?”

“Like they say, Sandy, there’s no honor among thieves.” The light turned green and Wesley started to let out the clutch. He took one last glance at the old Half Moon, his gaze almost passing over the man with the carefully groomed goatee and string tie walking up the street. He hesitated a split second before putting the car in gear, looking straight at the bearded man.

He knew that face.

The man turned into the lobby of the Half Moon and was gone. Wesley frowned and then, at the urging of the horn of the car behind him, slipped into first and drove on.

Steven Sharpe III, the Gambler. Wesley wondered what brought him to town, all the way out to the farthest reaches of Brooklyn, no less. He would find out later, tonight, after he had gotten Sandy safely home.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What Time Is It? It's Capes, Cowls & Costumes Friday!

That's right, boys and girls, it's that time again...Capes, Cowls & Costumes takes a look at some fine (and some not so fine) prose stories that have appeared in comic books over the years, including work by Dennis O'Neil, Grant Morrison, Peter David and The Shadow creator, Walter Gibson. Check it out over on, the place to go for reading material to get excited about.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Weekly World News XX

Here's a little ditty 'bout Bigfoot and Carol I wrote for Weekly World News in May 2005. I was playing with a "story" that had been dominating the news around the time of Jennifer Wilbanks, the "runaway bride" who claimed to have been abducted the day before her wedding...but wasn't. Alas, I broke poor Bigfoot's heart, all for the sake of a cheap laugh.

© Weekly World News

Menominee Falls, Wisconsin—Last Saturday was supposed to be Bigfoot’s wedding day. Guests had been arriving all week from as far away as Loch Ness, Scotland and the Himalaya Mountains in India. Instead, it turned out to be a day of fear and humiliation.

Because instead of getting married, Bigfoot awoke to find his fiancé, Carol J. Sasquatch missing and himself a suspect in her suspicious disappearance.

“Carol was very nervous about the wedding,” confided Ms. Sasquatch’s friend and bride’s maid, Shirley Loch Ness. “She decided to go out for a romp through the forest on Thursday night, taunt a few campers, dodge some video surveillance know, relax. Well, when she didn’t come back by the next morning, we all started getting worried.”

Bigfoot immediately set out to search for her. “We checked all her usual haunts in the woods,” said a spokescreature for the concerned groom. “We couldn’t find anything. No partially consumed carcasses, no droppings. It was as if she had vanished from the face of the Earth.”

It was at that point that Sgt. Boyd Brayne of the Wisconsin State Police got involved in the hunt. “We’re always on the look-out for Bigfoot or Bigfoot-like creatures,” he said. “Hunting for giant furry monsters is pretty much an ongoing thing around these parts.”

“The police didn’t take this very seriously at first. I think they thought an elusive Sasquatch was nothing out of the ordinary,” bridesmaid Loch Ness said. “Once they learned about the wedding, that changed. But instead of searching for her, the first thing they did was haul Bigfoot in for questioning.”

Sgt. Brayne was unapologetic about the three-hour interrogation Bigfoot was subjected to. “Standard police procedure,” he claimed. “A bride-to-be goes missing, your first instinct’s to call it murder and start digging up the groom’s basement looking for a body. Especially when that groom happens to be a forest creature.”

The tale of the missing bride took a turn for the bizarre on Saturday morning when Bigfoot received a frantic phone call from his intended. “She said she had been abducted by a UFO on Thursday night and, after having all her body hair removed and undergoing two days of examination and probings, they had dropped her off at a cheap motel outside of Reno.”

With his best man, the Abominable Snowman, at his side, Bigfoot raced west to rescue his lady love.

“As soon as we got to Reno and saw what was going on,we realized that whole story had been a lie,” said Mr. Snowman.

Ms. Sasquatch was found at the Sneak-A-Peek Motel (Free Cable in Every Room), surrounded by several days worth of fast food wrappers and empty vodka bottles. Corporal Homer T. Dinkle of the Nevada State Police told Weekly World News, “Turns out she hadn’t been abducted by aliens after all. She’d taken a bus to Reno on her own. After undergoing full-body electrolysis in a nearby clinic, she auditioned at several casinos as a show girl, but no one was hiring.”

Confronted with evidence putting the lie to her story, Ms. Sasquatch broke down and tearfully confessed. “I got scared,” she sobbed. “All my life I’ve dreamed of being a glamorous show girl, but once I got married, that dream would be dead. I had to at least try, just once. Can’t anyone understand that?”

By now, the media had gotten hold of the story and had dubbed the runaway bride “Mrs. Big-Cold-Feet.”

“After her call home about the alien abduction, we put out an A.P.B. on UFOs. We wound up hassling several innocent E.T.s based on her false report,” grumbled Corporal Dinkle.

In the end, Ms. Sasquatch accompanied Bigfoot home. “I still love him,” she claimed.

“Bigfoot still wants to marry her,” the Bigfoot family spokescreature affirmed at a press conference late Saturday afternoon. “He still loves her and thinks she’s a great gal, just a little confused, that’s all.”

Abominable Snowman is not so sure this marriage will happen now. “I mean, talk about starting off their new life together on the wrong big foot,” he said.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blowhard III

The third installment of my column, Things I've Learned Along the Way, is up at in which I babble on aimlessly about the creative process, specifically how we have no idea how it works, just that it does:

"It isn’t magic or voodoo. It just feels that way, but it works the same for writers and artists as it does for scientists and engineers. (I'll bet) Einstein had one of those 'E equals mc...hammer?…nein, nein…mc, mc…squared! Eureka!' moments while taking a dump..."

Weekly World News XIX

A piece written in 2006 for the unpublished book, Mutant Pets, Alien School Boards, and Yard Sales: Weekly World News Book of Suburban Legends:

© Paul Kupperberg

JITTERS, Wash. – Just when the residents of Jitters thought that the streets of their once bucolic little community had become saturated with fast food, retail, and specialty store franchise outlets, along came the Queequeg Coffeehouse chain.

“Understand, the whole town’s about three miles square,” said Mayor Bert Folger, sitting at his desk, shaking his foot while sipping an extra-foam half-caffe latte with soy milk and one artificial sweetener. “We were happy when the first Queequeg went in on the north side ... the coffee’s real good, even if it is a bit pricey.

“Then they opened a second on the south side of town, then one on the east side, the west side, and then they started popping up on every street in town. Seems whenever an old business shut its doors, when next that location reopened, it would be as a Queequeg.

“Pretty soon, we had twenty-three Queequegs in town with a population of about 3,000. You can’t buy a slice of pizza or find a decent shoe store anymore, but you sure can get yourself a coffee.”

Walt Bundle, president of the Jitters Chamber of Commerce, a nervous man with a tick in his right eye and a penchant for triple-shot espressos, extra sugar, is quick to take exception to the mayor’s point of view.

“So what?” he said. “I mean, boohoo, okay? You want pizza, drive to Tessie’s Pie over in Maxwellville. It’s only sixty miles, you can drive it in no time! Okay. Okay?

“Queequegs has been good for Jitters. They do land office business, pay a bundle in taxes, sponsor a ton of community service work, and ever since they’ve expanded around these parts, we’ve become a twenty-four hour a day town, tripling manufacturing capability and doubling productivity.

“Heck, as far as I’m concerned, if they can find someplace else to set up espresso machines, I’m happy to have as many more Queequegs as they want to open!”

Elton Sanka, founder and CEO of Queequegs is happy to comply with Mr. Bundle’s wishes.

“Mr. Bundle isn’t the only one to feel that way. And since Queequegs is all about giving the customer what it wants, we’ve just approved the final design on our latest franchising concept ... the Bathroom Barista!”

Only three feet square, this pre-fabricated coffee-bar-on-wheels can be quickly set up in the corner of a Queequegs’s restroom, plugged into an outlet and connected to the sink for a water supply.

“Within moments, the Bathroom Barista can be serving up piping hot coffee and steamed milk beverages to customers who may need a little extra boost between stops at one of our full-service Queequegs,” Sanka said

“It’s like the sign on the interstate into town says: ‘Welcome to Jitters, the City That Never Sleeps!’” shouted Mayor Folger, before sagging back into his seat and muttering, “Oh, god, I’m so tired. If I could just get some sleep.…”

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Shootin' Off My Mouth Some More

Opinions are like butts...everybody's got one and most of 'em stink, but that didn't stop them from posting the second installment of my column on writing, Things I've Learned Along the Way on Kirk Chritton's fine website, This week, I talk about being true to your character because, never forget, like Soylent Green, "Story is People." I also rag on Frank Miller for using dirty words in All-Star Batman and Robin #10...actually, I rag on DC Comics for letting him use dirty words in All-Star Batman and Robin #10, but I figure if it sounded like I was knocking Miller, maybe people would pay attention.