I got to meet a writing idol recently

There are several writers whom I idolize. There’s of course Stephen King, my love for which I’ve spoken of many times in the past, and there’s Joss Whedon, whose work on Buffy, Angel, and Firefly has thrilled and chilled me many times over. But, to that list has to be added Kevin Smith. For those who don’t know him, Kevin Smith is the writer/director of such films as CLERKS, CHASING AMY, and ZACK & MIRI MAKE A PORNO. If you’ve never heard of those films, I don’t blame you, but I do judge you. His films have always slanted to the comedic, and they’re usually dialogue heavy, with said dialogue coming from hip, young characters. CLERKS, his first film, came out nearly twenty years ago, and he’s been entertaining me since then. He’s also known for his comic book writing, but for me that’s really just the icing on top of his already amazing film career cake. The guy is just a damn good writer. In fact, I idolize him so much I own an action figure of him, and I have it sitting on my desk like a patron saint of writing so that he can watch over me and give me inspiration when I need it. Photographic evidence has been provided to the right. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Smith’s burgeoning podcast network. He has several great shows, and soon it’ll be growing into an actual internet radio station. My week would be pretty dull without listening to him and his friends talk about their lives and loves and work. If you’ve never listened to SModcast, then you’re seriously missing out.

But, all of that isn’t why I’m writing this blog entry. No, I’m writing this because I recently got to meet Kevin Smith, and it was a fantastic experience. You see, his next film is RED STATE, and it is very much unlike his usual fare in that it’s a horror movie. And, not only is it his first horror movie, but it’s also a movie that he didn’t want to sell the distribution rights to, so he’s been going around the country to show it to audiences himself. Luckily for me, one of his stops was Austin, which is about three to four hours south of me. Now, I have to say, when my brother first brought up the idea of going to Austin to see the movie and Kevin Smith, I was hesitant. I am a creature of habit to the extreme, and the idea of going so far to do something so other than what I’d normally be doing made me itchy. Even though I love Smith’s work, I didn’t want to go. Were it not for my wife saying she wanted to go too, I probably would have stayed home. But, she did want to go, as did my brother’s wife, so we decided to make a little trip out of it. We’d get tickets, drive together to Austin, see the movie, and then drive home the next day. It would a simple, fun time. Knowing we’d all be together made it easier for me to want to go. So, we made plans.

Cut to a couple of weeks ago, and my brother telling me that not only were we going to see the movie, but he’d also gotten us backstage passes to MEET Kevin Smith. How had my brother performed this incredible feat? After cyber-stalking Kevin for what seemed like months, finally he broke through, and Kevin said my brother could have the passes if Scott could give him something in return. Well, as luck would have it, my brother had a short song he’d created awhile ago, and he sent it to Kevin to see if he liked it. Indeed he did, and four backstage passes were issued for us. Joy! Fast-forward to a few days ago, and we all drove to Austin. My wife loves the city, as do I, so it was a pleasure to be there anyway, but knowing we’d get to meet Kevin Smith AND see the movie made it that much sweeter.

Now, if you don’t know who Kevin Smith is, I can only assume you also don’t know what RED STATE is about. RED STATE is a rather simple film, all things considered, but it is a brutal film as well. RED STATE tells the tale of three boys who think they’re going to drive to an internet hookup and get laid, only to have their little sexual sojourn turn into a horrifying ordeal at the hands of a congregation of religious zealots made in the mold of the famous Phelps family, but taken to an extreme. Soon the ATF is called in, and all hell breaks loose at the Five Points Trinity Church compound, which is part Westboro Baptist Church and part Branch Davidian Complex. It’s a short movie, but every second of it counts, and there is no fat to be had. We all really enjoyed it. I wish I had a copy of it so that I could watch it again. If you get a chance, go see it for yourselves. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

After the film, as he’s done at every stop on the tour, Kevin likes to come out and do a little Q&A with the audience. I say little, but really it ended up being about an hour and a half of him talking about the film and his plans for the future (which includes making one more movie — HIT SOMEBODY — before he retires from the film industry and concentrates on his writing, his internet radio show, and developing an independent film distribution company). I loved hearing him talk, but after an hour or so my legs were killing me, I was sweating like crazy, and I needed to go to the bathroom. When it was over, it was bittersweet. Fortunately we knew we were going to meet Kevin soon, so it really wasn’t over at all.

I’ve been lucky, in that because of my podcast and writing I’ve gotten to meet a lot of celebrities I look up to, either in person or over the phone while interviewing them. I’ve met Kevin Anderson (writer of more books than I’ll ever be able to produce from my meager fingers), Nathan Fillion (star of such TV shows as Firefly and Castle), Ray Park (his greatest claim to fame was playing the roll of Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, and you need to hear my wife tell the story of that meeting), and Tracy Hickman (one of the authors of the Dragon Lance series, which when I was kid I thought was better than The Lord Of The Rings) amongst others. Meeting Kevin Smith might have been better than them all, because not only did I get to shake his hand and tell him how much I liked his work, but for those few moments he was really engaged with me on a personal level. Thanks to my brother I was able to talk to and touch a person I idolize. Thank you, Scott. And thank you, too, to Kevin Smith. I really hope you kept my business card, and that you call me. I know you’d have fun on my podcast, and getting to talk more with you would be a dream come true.

Anyway, that’s it from me. The trip to Austin was great, the movie was amazing, and I’m still kind of floating on the high of it. Now if only I could figure out a way to meet Stephen King and Joss Whedon…

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Episode 166 – Brainstorming Horror With Paul Cooley

This week the Robots are joined by Paul E. Cooley to help Justin brainstorm his next book, STILL WATER. This one will be a horror novel, and who better to help us out than Paul, the FiendMaster himself? Please enjoy and send along your own thoughts!

Paul’s Website

Terry’s New Website

The Radiolab episode Eli mentioned

This week’s promo – Ministry of Peculiar Ooccurrences

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“I’m the talent.”

I saw this recently and thought you fine folks might get a laugh out of it. I hope so, anyway. Enjoy…

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Justin is on the Pendragon Variety Podcast

Hey all, it’s Justin. I wanted to let you know that last weekend I was honored to appear on the Pendragon Variety Podcast, which is hosted by a bunch of kickass women, and we talked about my new work in progress – A Minor Magic. This is my first (urban post-apocalyptic) fantasy novel, and it’s my first time to write a young female character in a semi-modern world setting. The ladies of the PVP were amazing to talk to, and I know that their suggestions and advice will be a big help as hammer away at the story. If you’d like to listen in on the discussion, please do so by using the player below.

Thank you, ladies. You were a blast to talk to, and oh so helpful.

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Dark Running

This is Justin Macumber’s podcast short story, “Dark Running.” It is the story of Charlie, a soldier called to answer for his past by a person driven by a desperate need for vengence. To save not only his own life, but that of his wife, Charlie will have to wade through the shifting shadows of his own mind. What he finds there will shake him to his core.

We hope you enjoy this audio story. If you’d like to read the text version, click HERE.

The following people lent their amazing voices to this production, and I cannot thank them enough:

Bryan Lincoln – Charlie
Veronica Giguere – Jane
J. Daniel Sawyer – Russian Soldier
Dan Absalonson – Jacob

The intro and outro song for this podcast is “Hold On For Your Life” by Chasing Melfina.

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Justin Interviewed on the Fullcast Podcast – Part 2

This is part two of the interview I did with Bryan and Abbie of the Fullcast Podcast. My thanks go out to them for making the experience so enjoyable.

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Justin interviewed on the Fullcast Podcast

Hey, everyone. Yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting down (digitally speaking) with Bryan Lincoln and Abbie Hilton of the Fullcast Podcast. They wanted to talk with me about my short stories and the podcasts I’ve made of them. We talked about what it’s like working with voice actors, where to get good music and sound effects, and how I put it all together, amongst other things. We had a really good time. So good — in fact — that we talked long enough to make it a two-parter. So, here I present you with Part One of my interview with Fullcast. I hope you enjoy it…

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The Dame Wore White

Hello, everyone, Justin here. I finally was able to finish the podcast version of my latest short story, “The Dame Wore White.” This story has yet to find a home in print, but I’m trying, and I’d appreciate some crossed fingers on its behalf. I hope you enjoy this audio presentation. My deepest thanks go out to the kind folks who lent their vocal talents, making this much better than it had a right to be. The cast is as follows:

Justin Macumber – Narrator
James Durham – Sal
Philippa Ballantine – Aubrey
Terry Mixon – Marlo
Xander Snyder – Big Red & Security Thug
Ryan E Stevenson – Joey & Serving Droid

And, last but not least, let me thank my brother Scott for the artwork that graces this story. Scott’s been doing cover art for me for awhile now, and he tops himself with every new effort. Thanks, bro, for everything.

That’s it! Please let me know what you think!

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Down with typos!

CNN has an article up on their site right now that I can wholeheartedly agree with. And, might I say, it’s something I’ve been saying for a long time. You can read the article HERE.

As a person who values the English language, it tears me up when I see people treating it as though it didn’t matter. It does, people. It’s how we communicate, share ideas, express ourselves. And, when it comes to the written word, I think we should be especially vigilant in not only how we use it, but how well we use it. I know people think these days that because our lives are rushing by us at a hundred miles per hour we should let the occasional typo slip by unremarked upon, but what happens when one becomes two, and two become twenty? What then? How far down the slope are we willing to slide before the written word no longer has meaning? How long will it be until texting becomes the norm, and lengthy prose is shortened to an unintelligible (unless you’re still a teenager) string of abbreviations? There is a wall, folks, a wall between us and barbarism, and proper language usage is one of the bricks in that wall. Let it break, and soon after all the rest will crumble too. Don’t let our language go gently in that goodnight, my friends. Be vigilant, be vocal, be corrective. Help me stomp out the tyranny of the typo once and for all.

Thank you…

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Happy Birthday, George

Hello, all. Justin here. If someone were to ask me who my creative heroes were, who inspired me and made me want to be a storyteller myself, I could rattle off a laundry list of names for them. People like Robert Heinlein, Joss Whedon, Stephen King, Gene Roddenberry, and Bill Willingham would all feature very highly on that list. Each one of them has impacted me creatively, sometimes personally. But, there is one person above all others who shaped me and helped make me who I am today, and that person is George Lucas.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Everybody hates the guy now. Once upon a time he was the god all geeks worshiped, but after the prequels (and really, I think starting with “Return of the Jedi”) his star fell from the cultural firmament, and he became a bit of a joke. Now most people say his name with scorn, if not outright hatred. You won’t get that from me, though. No sir. All you’ll get from me is love and appreciation for the man.

You see, I will never forget that it was George Lucas’ original “Star Wars” that first hit my young brain and woke it up to the possibility of myth and story. I remember watching the movie as a child, marveling at the space battles, the sword fights, the music, the emotion, the drama. I remember the fear I felt at seeing Vader walk into that smokey spaceship corridor, the elation at Luke’s swing over that chasm, the childlike affection for Princess Leia. I was five years old when “Star Wars” came out, and I was never the same afterward.

And then came “The Empire Strikes Back,” which took everything I loved about “Star Wars” and rose them to new heights. I wasn’t as big a fan of “Return of the Jedi,” but I still appreciated the story Lucas was telling, and watching Anakin redeem himself was the perfect end to the trilogy. But the train didn’t stop there. After that came an endless procession of comic books, video games, and novels. The Star Wars universe had no end to it, and I found myself exhilarating in so much of it. Whether it was the “Knights of the Old Republic” games, or the Thrawn trilogy, or the “Dark Empire” comics, there was always something new for my creative spirit to hold close and draw strength from, and none of that would have been possible if it weren’t for what Lucas created. Say whatever you like about how he handled the prequel trilogy, none of that takes away from the fact that the man created an entertainment empire (pardon the pun) that has thrilled and excited hundreds of millions of people for over thirty years. Not many people can make that same claim. He is the wellspring from which all this started. I owe him more than I can ever say. I am who I am — for better or worse — because once upon a time George Lucas wrote the words, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”

Happy Birthday, George. I hope you have many more to come.

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