Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes, page 92

June 20, 2013

Book Review: Superman: For all Seasons

Superman for All Seasons Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book follows Superman from High School graduation to the Daily Planet to a period of self-doubt that leads to a return to a Smallville.

Superman: For All Seasons is told in four parts, four seasons, one told from the perspective of his parents, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and then Lana Lang. The book doesn't have any groundbreaking supervillain battles or plot points, what makes Superman For All Seasons work is that it captures in brief what really makes the Superman character.

Superman is often known as the Last Son of Krypton but he is also the best son of Smallville and that's what this book is ultimately about. The art is amazing. It's got a very Normal Rockwellesque traditionalist feel to it, both in the way that Clark Kent is drawn and that of the city of Smallvillle and its citizens. The story is often emotional without being maudlin with its use of active, inviting, and evocative art.

If I had one complaint about this book, it would be the clueless smallville Reverend who never quite talks like one. A minor flaw and not enough to cost this book a star.



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Published on June 20, 2013 22:46 Tags: superman-book-review

June 19, 2013

Announcing Tales of the Dim Knight Second Kindle Edition

A thought occurred to me recently. Paperbacks are like VHS and ebooks are like DVDs.

VHS tapes rarely had much in terms of bonus content because of the limits on their space, but the DVD brought about all sorts of featurettes, commentaries, and games because of the expanded storage.

Ebooks have that potential but most authors, yours truly included, do not tap that potential. Instead the ebook is usually a Kindle version of our original books.

Inspired by that thought, I went and created a second Kindle edition of Tales of the Dim Knight that includes an alternate ending and nine deleted scenes including the first time Captain France and Miss Invisible met Half Brain. So, I encourage you to check it out.

Note: if you bought the first edition off Amazon, you can go to Manage your Kindle to download the latest at no additional cost.
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Published on June 19, 2013 05:39 Tags: tales-of-the-dim-knight, updated-edition

June 15, 2013

First Book Signing: Results and Lessons Learned

I spent five hours at Hastings on Fairview in Boise signing books. I had quite a few meetings with passersbys as I sat at the entrance and my books were exposed to probably a couple hundred people who had never seen them before. My on the spot results were the sale of four Copies of Tales of the Dim Knight and Four Copies of Fly Another Day. Given that I sold five copies to people I didn't know, I have to consider that a pretty solid result first time out.

Here are some thoughts and lessons:

It's Not Easy:

Book signings, particularly in book stores are a challenge. First of all, people are coming through with their own idea of what to buy and a store like Hastings is also not just a book store but a multimedia entertainment store selling Books, CDs, Video Games, DVDs, and Blu Rays. Many shoppers stride in on a mission to their appointed section.

The folks at Hastings gave me a good seat right near one of the entrances, meaning that about 50 percent of customers would have to by my table. Though, since they were entering, it'd be my job to attract them.

They also only put a few books out to start with, so everything wouldn't be cluttered which was another nice touch by the staff.

Say Hi

What I read online about how to do book signings made me nervous. One lady wrote how she would call passerbys over.

To me this seemed like the most scary idea I could imagine. In fact, given the choice between tackling a suicide bomber and shouting for people to come over to look at my books, I'd take the suicide bomber.

I'm an introvert and the idea seemed like I was barking at a stadium. "Popcorn, peanuts, superhero novels!"

However, I found a solution that worked. I smiled and looked and everyone who entered the store and said, "Hello," "Hi," "Good Afternoon," or "Good Evening." That was a lot more comfortable and if they were not on a mission, they'd usually stop by and take a look. Greeting strangers is okay in Idaho, and it didn't feel uncomfortable or forced. It took some energy but was worth it.

The Book Covers are Cool

I always thought the covers looked good, but online you never really know. But I saw enough people coming by to see that the covers did catch the eye. Whether it was a lack of cash or back cover copy issues, no one didn't opt not to buy the books based on the covers.

Be More Prepared

The biggest takeaway is that next time I do a book signing, I really need to be more prepared in a couple of ways.

First, water is a must. I didn't feel thirsty at all during the book signing, but the day afterwards I woke up feeling pretty dehydrated. It was the adrenaline that kept me from noticing. Yeah, adrenaline from during a book signing.

The second point is that while I would have thought that it was obvious I was doing a book signing, there were some people who thought the guy in the Superman shirt and kilt sitting at the book table worked at Hastings. I got at least three people who thought I worked there, though I wasn't wearing Hasting's trademark green uniform shirt.

At the very least, I need to bring something that indicates that I'm doing a book signing next time. Of course, there are all kinds of extras and goodies that many authors buy and never actually get rid of or get a serious return on their money. So, I want to avoid stocking up on useless stuff. Still, I think I went a little too minimalist this time and I'll look to add a few touches at the next book signing.

People Want the First Book:

Officially, the book signing was for, Powerhouse: Hard Pressed, yet you'll note that I didn't mention selling any copies of it and that's because I didn't.

Tales of the Dim Knight as the first book that featured Dave Johnson and Powerhouse was an obvious choice and Fly Another Day worked as well because it's the first in the current Adventures of Powerhouse series. This left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, I was grateful to sell copies of the other books. On the other hand, I really love Powerhouse: Hard Pressed. It's my newest baby and I want people to tell me how cute it is. :)

But I understand where the readers are coming from. There's a reason why series are so popular. People like to know that the story's going somewhere. They don't want to get emotionally invested and interested in a character only to find he or she is done after one book, and then they have to find another character. The existence of Powerhouse: Hard Pressed seems to make people more likely to try the first two but they have to love those books before they buy Powerhouse: Hard Pressed.

I have to admit I wouldn't buy an entire series based on meeting the author in the bookstore, but I'd buy the first book. Though, I will say that I do try to write the books so that you can get the idea of what's going on without necessarily having to buy the previous ones. But if the first one's there, people will buy it.

And for those of us who are little known Independent authors, it may be a good idea to always have plenty of the first one available for that purpose.
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Published on June 15, 2013 10:47 Tags: book-signing

Sample Saturday:Superhero Father and Son Bonding Time

How does a mighty hero spend time with his kids? It's usually fairly typical for Dave Johnson, but there are a few extra special times as shown in Fly Another Day:

Powerhouse dashed toward the tank barreling at him. He grabbed it by its big gun, flung it around the Nevada dessert, and smashed it on the ground repeatedly.


The immobile tank lay upside down, and it’s wheels slowed. It looked a like an oversized tortoise that had fallen on its back. Powerhouse grabbed the machine in the middle and tore it apart like it was Reynolds rap.


Powerhouse super-imagined his armor contracting into a metal square on his chest. He stood in blue tights with the gold Powerhouse lightening bolt on the metal plate on his chest. His helmet remained and continued to blow cool air into his face. Powerhouse dashed across the desert.


A low-orbiting, rectangular spaceship swooped after him. He spun and fled the other way as fast as he could run. The sand, hills, and cacti blended into a big blur. He was nowhere near as fast as the Flash, but he was surely breaking a world record ten times over. Good enough.
His lungs started to burn. Powerhouse panted. He had to stop.


He glanced back behind him at the ship overhead, right on his tail. Gotta keep running.


Powerhouse sped up. He passed miles of desert. His legs ached. His throat matched his surroundings. He peered at his watch. He’d been going half an hour. It had to be enough. He slowed and came to a gradual stop. He breathed in, out, nice and slow.


The spaceship landed and Derrick and James got out.


James eyes’ were wide. “That was so c-cool.”


Derrick nodded. “Yeah, Dad. I timed it. For the first five minutes, you were going 1500 miles an hour. I could barely keep up in the spaceship. Then you slowed down to 800 miles an hour."


Powerhouse nodded. “I could practice so I don’t slow down so much, but I don’t know how I’d use it practically. I have my rocketpack.”


Derrick shook his head. “Dad, your rocketpack only goes 250 miles an hour. You’re way faster when running on the ground.”


“Too many obstacles on the ground in the city. I’ll keep working on it.”


Derrick waved back at the spaceship. “Come inside and rest.”


“Right away, son.” Powerhouse yawned.


Showing off for the kids was harder than fighting crime. Still, it was worth it to spend time with them.


Powerhouse plodded into the ship and plopped in a plush captain’s chair on the bridge of the stealth spaceship.


Derrick settled into the navigator’s chair. “One more thing, Dad.”


That was it. “One more thing, Derrick Johnson. Who am I?”


“I mean Powerhouse. Zolgron gave me some information that he said you need to memorize. He wanted to be that sure you got it because he’s in Tahiti.” Derrick reached into a bag and pulled out a folded document of some kind. “City of Seattle Map.”


Powerhouse touched the map and his head was filled with a complete scale map of the city. “Very cool.”


Derrick tossed him another map. “City of Seattle sewer map.”


Powerhouse touched it. His mind filled with the layout of the Seattle sewer system. “Always handy to have.”


Derrick reached into the satchel. “Greater Seattle area phone book.”


“That’s good.” Powerhouse touched it. His body jolted and numbers zipped through his head. It figured. That always happened with big books.


Derrick reached in and pulled out half a dozen books. “And here are some martial arts books we got from the library.”


“Super!” Powerhouse grabbed them. Karate instructions and illustrations wrote themselves onto his brain’s hard drive.


He added Judo, Akido, and then Kung Fu. He grabbed the fifth book.


Pictures of delicious pastries filled his mind.


Huh?


Powerhouse gaped at the cover. “The Betty Crocker Desert Cookbook.”


“Oops.” Derrick flinched. “That must have been on the wrong shelf.”


Powerhouse grabbed the last book and acquired knowledge of Tae Kwon Do.


His head throbbed. Rubbing it, he moaned.


“W-what’s wrong?” James asked.


“Information overload. It’s like an ice cream headache, only worse and without getting to eat the yummy ice cream.”


Powerhouse closed his eyes and imagined one of the confections in Betty Crocker’s book. A peach cobbler with ice cream, plates and a knife appeared on his lap. Powerhouse cut off a slice and lifted it toward his mouth.


He waved at the kids and the cobbler. “Have some.”


Derrick took a place, cut off a piece of the cobbler, and put it on his plate. He pressed a button on the spaceship’s control panel. “I’ll get us back to camp.”


James snatched up the remaining plate and sliced himself a piece of the cobbler, too. “D-dad, you okay?”


“Yes, son.”


Derrick glanced at his brother and slipped sound-proof earphones on.


James sighed and swallowed. “D-dad, you’re not a d-dork. I’m s-sorry.”


“You’re forgiven, son.” Powerhouse smiled. “From what I’ve heard, most sons your age think their dads are dorks.”


“Heard? Didn’t you?”

“My father died when I was four.”

“Oh.” James blinked. “Y-you never mentioned it.”

“Not a happy memory.” Powerhouse’s chest constricted.

“Well, y-you’re cool.”
That alone made the whole trip worth it. “Son, have another piece of cobbler.”

Fly Another Day is available free today for the Kindle and also available in Paperback or as an Audible download.
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Published on June 15, 2013 09:37 Tags: father-s-day, sample-saturday, superhero

June 14, 2013

Man of Steel Review

Man of Steel faced a challenge: to re-tell an origin story everyone knows and do it in a fresh and interesting way.

For the most part, they got it right. The scenes on Krypton were superbly done with a real other-worldly feel and a couple touches that were reminiscent of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies.

I've seen, heard, and read a dozen or more interpretations of baby Kal-el being placed in the rocket to Earth. This was the most emotionally engaging telling by far. The moment between baby Kal-el and Lara felt real.

I also there decision to have a Jor-el AI was great and a nice updating of the recorded Marlon Brando Jor-el.

There were some great supporting performances. Kevin Costner was perfect as Pa Kent. Amy Adams was great as Lois Lane: tough and no nonsense without being nasty. She was also genuinely heroic in her own right in a way that didn't feel contrived.

Michael Shannon as General Zod made for a solid non-Luthor villain who provided a real challenge to the Man of Steel.

As for Superman himself, we have a return to greatness for the Man of Steel with Henry Cavill giving us a wholesome self-sacrificing hero that embodies much of the best of Superman.

The big problem that stood out in the film was the lack of regard for keeping bystanders safe. Some reviewers have described this as Superman not having a Boy Scout syndrome, but in reality, being reckless about human life is a violation of Superman's character. Also, Superman is forced to kill in this movie. Arguably, he had no choice. But should we have that happen in Movie #1?

Also, I couldn't quite buy Perry White wearing an earring? It was distracting and is there a male editor-in-chief of a great metropolitian newspaper in the country with an earring.

Despite my concerns both major and trivial, I'm not with comic writer Mark Waid In writing the movie off. After all that Superman has suffered, the creative team deserves credit for what they got right and there's so much that they did do correctly.

Overall, I enjoyed and would far rather see a Man of Steel 2 rather than some reboot in the next few years.
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Published on June 14, 2013 21:18

June 12, 2013

Comxiology's Supersale

If you have an Android or Apple Device, or are willing to read comics on your computer, the Comixology app can be a nice thing. The App. itself is free and then you can buy comics as you want.

I don't buy many comics because most are $2.99-$4.99 a pop for the digital versions of fairly short comic books. It doesn't make sense for most title. I love Mark Waid's Daredevil, but the cover price leaves me going for the more economical option of purchasing the trades every 6 months.

That said, there's actually a pretty good sale going at Comixology as they have 200+ Superman titles on sales for 99 cents through 6/20.

Unfortunately, there are very few of the Gold and Silver age titles on sale, but there are some pretty interesting highlights:

Superman (1939-2011) #1-Free (Note: That Superman #1 contained a reprint of Action Comics #1 so purchasing that title would be redundant.)
Action Comics #252: First story with Supergirl and first story with Metallo, the Man with the Kryptonite Heart.
Superman (139-2011) #423 and Actions (1938-2011) #583: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow Classic Alan Moore storyline.

Also at 99 cents an issue:
-Superman: Man for All Seasons
-All-Star Superman
-Birthright
-Secret Origins
-Kingdom Come
-Trinity

Most of these I can get free at my library, but if you can't and are willing to own electronically, this is a good time to buy.
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Published on June 12, 2013 21:56 Tags: superman

The Indie Life: Putting on a Virtual Launch Party That's Actually Fun

I've been to a few Virtual Launch Parties and usually they haven't been a great experiences. However, I've developed a lot of contacts online and I definitely see the merits in trying it.

If my party turns out to be a success, I'll owe a big debt of thanks to Lisa Shea who posted her awesome plan
on Bella Online. It's technically a woman's website, but thankfully accessible to those of us of the mail persuasion.

Lisa's plan is a good template for any author to use as a guideline.

So I've taken one of her big suggestions and have a notepad document already written up with all my trivia, questions, and videos, as well as some giveaways.

The hardest thing I had to do was make YouTube videos. I have to admit that self-videography is not some my strong suit, but I somehow starred in five videos. I doubt I'll start in many others for a long time, but it worked out okay.

The one suggestion I didn't take was doing a virtual food tasting. It makes sense for Ms. Shea as she's also a low carb blogger. However, as food's not part of my routine, I decided to leave it out.

I know my party won't perfect, but hopefully it'll give me a big promotional boost. I think authors should do these Facebook launches, however it's important to have a plan.

Linked to Indie Life

If you want to see how my party goes, you can come by between 6:30 and 9 pm MT.
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Published on June 12, 2013 15:18 Tags: book-launch-parties, indie-life

June 8, 2013

On the Lack of Female Superhero Movies

Avengers Producer Josh Wheddon theorizes on the lack of female superhero movies:


Why do you think there’s a lack of female superheroes in film?

Toymakers will tell you they won’t sell enough, and movie people will point to the two terrible superheroine movies that were made and say, You see? It can’t be done. It’s stupid, and I’m hoping The Hunger Games will lead to a paradigm shift. It’s frustrating to me that I don’t see anybody developing one of these movies. It actually pisses me off. My daughter watched The Avengers and was like, “My favorite characters were the Black Widow and Maria Hill,” and I thought, Yeah, of course they were. I read a beautiful thing Junot Diaz wrote: “If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.”


Let me suggest one big problem and it goes back to the interviewer's question. He asks about the lack of female superheroes in film, but no specific character.

That's telling. And if you're talking about Marvel characters, it's not completely a dry well but it's pretty limited. As Powerhouse observed in Powerhouse: Hard Pressed, "A woman can be anything she wants to be. She can even be a superhero, so long as she’s a DC Comics character. Well, unless she’s one of the X-Men or Spider-Man’s daughter.”"

Marvel superheroines have had a really bad time even holding their own in a comic book series for any length of time. The longest running Marvel female Superhero was Spider-girl, whose series ran for 12 years in an Alternate Marvel universe.

DC has more possibles such as Batgirl and of course Wonder Woman. But there's not much clamor for either film.

Let me suggest a reason. I think Comic Book companies have three things they want their female superheroines to be: sassy, sexy, and tough.

That's about it. Noble, virtuous, and compassionate? Not so much. In fact, you're probably more likely to find tender and gentle moments in the lives of male superheroes than their female counterparts. It's almost as if writers are afraid to show any softer moments for fear that our character might not seem tough or competent.

Unfortunately, it takes more than a revealing costume and special effects to make a successful superhero film. It requires creating a character that people can cheer for.

Tom DeFalco managed to do that with Spider-girl and characters like American Dream and so did Suzanne Collins with Hunger Games.

Don't sit there and complain about the lack of a demographic in Superhero movies, give us a character we can really root for and a great story. It's just that simple.
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Published on June 08, 2013 16:09 Tags: female-superheroes

June 7, 2013

Sample Saturday: Powerhouse Meets the Detective

[Note: In this scene from the new book, [book:Powerhouse: Hard Pressed|17853010], Powerhouse needs to obtain the help of a detective to locate the missing Major Speed and he consults Portland's Neil Worthington, who in many ways is Powerhouse's detective counterpart.]


Powerhouse rang the doorbell as he stood on a brownstone mansion’s steps in the suburbs of Portland. His heart thudded as he waited.

The heavy door opened. A Latino with a Caesar hair cut, thin arms, and a slight paunch stood on the threshold in a green T-shirt and jeans. “Señor, your name?”

“Um, I’m Powerhouse.”

“Gracias, Señor Powerhouse. I am Gaston Perez. Señor Worthington will be down at eleven. He’s in the plant room tending his orchids, which he does every day from nine to eleven. Please come in.” The man in a green shirt led Powerhouse into an office and flopped onto a cream-colored couch.

How rude. Powerhouse eyed the bright red and yellow leather chairs. They matched the extra couch in the corner. A giant globe was wider around than Powerhouse was. Behind it sat two bookcases. One had a pine “Poirot” sign nailed over it and the other had a “Holmes” sign nailed over it.

The Poirot bookcase was well-organized with hardcover volumes and case files arranged by height, but the Holmes bookcase boasted papers strewn haphazardly. On its top shelf sat a copy of the South China Post from 1978, a bloodstained cloth, an unloaded revolver, and a bologna sandwich.

Powerhouse glanced at the man on the couch. “Who are you?”

“I’m the, um, personal trainer. I only answer the door while the butler and his assistant are out. It’s one of the burdens of working here.”

Powerhouse eyed the rather out-of-shape Latino. “You don’t look like a personal trainer.”

“I train his mustache.” The mustache trainer shrugged. “You should see it before you judge my services of keeping it in good shape. I’m an expert.”

Powerhouse blinked. “But you don’t even have a mustache yourself.”

Mustache Trainer sat up. “I had to sacrifice my own. Maintaining one superb mustache is a challenge for any man, let alone two. It would be like trying to maintain two wives.”

Behind his helmet, Powerhouse raised an eyebrow. “If you say so.”

Floorboards creaked as a man almost as rotund as the globe sauntered in carrying three orchids that looked like props. He did have a rather unique mustache, but he’d ripped off Sherlock Holmes’ clothes, the hat in particular. The newcomer put the fake flowers in the vase on his big oak desk and sat in a king-sized, orange desk chair that looked like it’d been salvaged from a thrift store and reupholstered to look new again.

The detective spread his hands on his desk. “Hello, Powerhouse. You have come to consult me.”

“If you’re Neil Worthington.” Powerhouse glanced at the orchids. “Am I mistaken, or are those plastic?”

“Yes, I’m the proud owner of ten thousand artificial orchids.”

“But you spent two hours up there.”

“I must have my hobby, if I am to emulate Nero Wolfe. His orchids are organic, but I’ve not had much luck with organic orchids, though my assistant and new butler have started some, and they left me instructions.”

The mustache trainer said, “Wasn’t that to leave them alone?”

Worthington glowered. “You can go back upstairs.”

“I could comb your mustache.”

Worthington shook his head. “Not in front of a potential client.”

This is weird. Powerhouse coughed. “Are you sure you’re a detective?”

Worthington glanced over Powerhouse. “You are in your mid-thirties, a white male American. You are not a white collar worker and you came to this address after going to the wrong address on the other side of town.”

Powerhouse blinked. “How did you know that?”

“Your costume’s design is more consistent with the design of popular superhero costumes from the 1990s than with the current styling, therefore the age. Your voice was suggestive as well. You’re obviously not comfortable in an office environment, thus the guess you’re not a white collar worker. As for going to the other side of town, the sediment on your suit contains dust found only in that part of Portland.”

“Wow, that’s amazing. You must be fun at parties.”

“I don’t go to parties. Now, sir, your problem.” Worthington pulled out a pipe from his jacket’s inner pocket.

Powerhouse winced. “You smoke?”

“No, tobacco is distasteful and deadly, but I must have a pipe. Sherlock Holmes had a pipe.”

So did Bruce Wayne and Captain America in their early comics. Doesn’t mean I’ll go and buy one.

Worthington reached into his desk, removed an unlabeled black bottle, and poured a clear liquid into the pipe. He put the bottle back. “Proceed.”

“It all began in 1937—”

A stream of bubbles flew out of Worthington’s pipe.

Seriously? Powerhouse chortled.

Worthington waved. “My eccentricities are calculated into my fee. Pray continue.”

----

Powerhouse Hard Pressed is now available in Paperback or for the Kindle

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Published on June 07, 2013 22:10 Tags: powerhouse, sample-saturday

June 6, 2013

Yes, I Do Want to Eventually Quit My Day Job

Mike Duran asks if writers really want to quit their day job. He points out that some who have made the leap have found that in the words of Spock, "that having is not so pleasant as wanting.":



I know two novelists who quit their day jobs to pursue a career in writing. One of them was forced to return to their day job because they weren’t making enough off their books to pay their bills. The other is so stressed out they vowed that after completion of their current contractual agreements, they will never again write under deadline.


That's certainly a nightmare scenario. And I have no plans on quitting my job immediately or in the near future, but it's a goal and it's a dream

It's not because I hate my job or my co-workers, or my work. There's nice people good benefits, and very generous PTO. However, while I do my best at my work, I don't feel it's what I was designed to do.

Maybe, it's like the feeling of Eric Liddell, "When I run I feel His pleasure." Writing is a God-given gift, and there are moments when I'm writing that are so amazing and rich. I believe that what I write can serve God's purposes and really bless other people. I want to do what I was designed to do: write.

Duran offers a thought on how to go pro:


But here’s the thing: It is so much less stress NOT having my livelihood tied to my writing. I know this from talking to writers who do. They are constantly working toward their next deadline. And because their last book didn’t do well, they’re forced to write something they don’t necessarily enjoy just to make ends meet. Keeping my day job AND writing is rough. But it lets me write what I want, not fret (too much) about poor sales or bad reviews, and still have financial stability. Which affords my artistic freedom. When your livelihood is tied to your writing it seems inevitable that you must

1. Write to market, and
2. Crank out novels.


I agree with Duran for the most. There's a lot of advice on how to make a living writing and it involves writing cookie cutter novels in the "genre of the moment." Writing superhero comedy novels isn't going to be a recommended way to do that.

Like Duran, I'd rather keep my day job than write either of those options. However, there are people who get to make a decent living writing and creating stories they love and care about, and it's my dream to be one of those people.
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Published on June 06, 2013 20:51 Tags: writing-life

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
...more
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