Author Archives: W.H. Lock

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My Margarita Martini Recipe

As stolen from Trudy’s restaurant in Austin, Tx. 

drink picture

Margarita Martini

Y’all, I have spent more than a few years drink testing every margarita I can find. Most places get it wrong. They throw a bottle of Master of Mixes margarita mix in with some tequila and call it quits.

These places are not worth returning to.

However, there are some gem restaurants that actually take the time to craft a drink worth drinking. Something with the tartness of limes, the sweetness of sugar, the bite of citric, and dusty agave taste.

These places are worth returning to in order to figure how how they make the drink and shamelessly steal it.

And, believe me, I have spent a lot of time visiting and revisiting various places in order to learn their secrets…and steal them! The best one I have found is the Mexican martini from Trudy’s in Austin, TX.  In the name of science I drank a lot of these.

True story: Trudy’s will only serve you two of these.  Back when there were just 3 Trudy’s, people would start at the North Star location, drink their two. Catch a taxi to the original location. Two more. Then head to the old south location and two more. Then they added a fourth place and moved the south location.

After that most people couldn’t make it past 3 places. But a few stalwart souls could handle the trip. Then Trudy’s integrated all of their locations into one system because of like alcohol poisoning or something.  Whatever.

Anyway, I developed a fine sense of what a good Trudy’s Mexican martini should taste like and I’ve added a bit of something of my own.

For this drink you’ll need:

  • 2 shots of 100% agave tequila (My fav label is Espolon)
  • 1 shot of Triple Sec
  • 3 shots of limeade (do not use a lime soda like Sprite/7-Up)
  • Juice of fresh squeezed 1/2 of a lime
  • 1 shot of orange juice (to take it up a notch juice of one fresh squeezed orange)
  • Tajin
  • Cliantro
  • Jar of olives
  • (optional) jar of jalapenos

Instructions

  1. Fill a steel shaker with ice
  2. add the 2 shots of tequila
  3. add the 1 shot of Triple
  4. squeeze in the 1/2 lime
  5. squeeze in the orange/add the shot of orange juice
  6. Add in the 3 shots of limeade.
  7. Add tablespoon of olive juice
  8. Shake.
  9. Wet the rim of a glass/mug and dip the rim into the Tajin. Spin to get a good coat.
  10. Strain the mix into the glass.
  11. Float a sprig of cilantro as garnish.
drink picture

Margarita Martini

Now, you’re probably thinking, “WTF is Tajin?!?”  It’s a mix of dried Mexican chilies and lime salt. It’s not spicy so much as it hints at a spice with the tang of limes. It’s amazing on corn, eggs, cauliflower, actually it’s fantastic on just about anything.

And enjoy!  But, please be responsible. This little drink goes down real easy, but it packs a bit of a punch. So be careful.

Oh, and if you really want to make this a drink for the summer everyone will remember, add a tablespoonish of jalapeno pepper juice. The sweet tartness from the limeade with the tequila flavors will be taken up a bunch of notches by the jalapeno spiciness.  Oh  yes.

Alright, y’all.  I need to go make me a few of these and get cracking on the next book!

TTy’allLater!
~W.H. Lock


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Brick

By now you’ve probably seen Director Rian Johnson’s movie Rogue One.  Yeah, I agree, it’s amazing. Especially the last few minutes with that Vader in the Hall scene.  Bad ass Vader is back!

But have  you seen Rian Johnson’s first film Brick?  

It’s one of my favorite films from the early 2000’s.  It’s a neonoir style mystery set in high school.  Of course it’s a story that revolves around greed, sex, and murder.  Like all good noir and high school stories should.

It’s primarily inspired by Dashiell Hammett’s Glass Key and Red Harvest. If you haven’t read either of those, go pick them up. They’re great.  Red Harvest was the inspiration for the Kurosawa classic Yojimbo and the American film Last Man Standing.  It’s also inspired by the now classic anime Cowboy Bebop.

Which you should definitely  see. Bebop is an amazing series. It’s so good, I even own the sound track on CD.  And I don’t buy soundracks.

One of the things that I like the most about Brick is the command of the noir-style language. It’s something I’m very conscious of when I write a Jack story. It’s amazing how well the patios blends with being in High School.  I mean, it opens up with the protagonist Brandon looking for his ex-girlfriend Emma. He keeps asking everyone who she’s eating lunch with now.  Which totally sounds like a noir slang for who she’s spending time with BUT since this is High School, it really does mean he’s asking who she’s sitting with during their lunch break.

It stars a Joseph Gordon-Levitt and, as I mentioned, it’s written and directed by Rian Johnson.  If you like hard boiled action, noir patter, and some action you’ll probably like Brick.

If you don’t like any of those things…I wouldn’t watch it.

TTy’all Later!

~W.H. Lock

 


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Cloak and Dagger comic cover

Cloak & Dagger

The original Cloak & Dagger comic mini series was one of my favorite series as a kid. It’s a bit dated in its portrayal of characters, but over all it’s a really good. Two kids run away and get swept up with dangerous people.

Cloak and Dagger comic cover

original comic cover

And get superpowers.

Which normally doesn’t happen to runaways, but this is comics so that happens.  Like all the time.

But it’s a good one that covers drugs and drug addiction.  Not in the jokey way that comics had done before with Speedy and Green Arrow yelling about Speedy being a JUNKY!!!!

Comics History note: many people claim that the first use of drugs in comics appears in Spider-Man with Harry Osborn popping some pills or DC Comic’s Green Arrow’s sidekick shooting something up. They’re wrong, drug use stories appeared in Pre-Code comics like Detective Comic’s Johnny Law #25 published in 1937. The earliest one I know of was titled The Marijuana Racket. It’s a 7 page comic story in the vein of Reefer Madness.

Anyway, Marvel Studios is continuing the take-over of all media by launching a new hero TV show.  They’ve turned Cloak & Dagger into a cable TV series. they recently released a trailer.

I’ll be honest after the trailer.

So, in terms of accuracy to the source- I think they’re nailing it. The two actors in the lead rolls look like the characters. they have a specific origin story that involves both of them running away. So far, looking good.

But there’s something off here. I can’t put my finger on why I don’t like this trailer. Maybe it’s the crap music.  Maybe it’s the lower special effects budget. I don’t know but I’m seriously underwhelmed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll watch every episode of the first season.

But right now I’m a little wary.

 

~W.H.


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Under a curse

Category : blog

So, I go through this cycle when I start a new project.  I think of it as my very own personal creators curse.

  • Step 1 is “Wow, this is a really good idea!”
  • Step 2 is “This is just so much fun! I love this idea.
  • Step 3 is “Huh. Hm. Well. This is a good idea. Well, I mean, I like it. But…”
  • Step 4 is “OMG, why do I even think I can do this! This is the WORST IDEA EVER!”
  • Step 5 is “Okay, I’ll just finish this draft and that’s it. No more.”
  • STep 6 is “Well, this isn’t so bad. I mean, with a little work…”
  • Step 7 is “You know, this is actually pretty good. Not amazing, but…yeah…”
  • Step 8 is “I AM SO SICK OF LOOKING AT THIS THING! Whatever! It’s done! I don’t care!”

Right now, I am firmly in Step 4.  The “creative doldrums” usually hits me in the outline stage. And I’m right in the middle of the outline stage. About two weeks ago or so, I really loved this idea.  Now that I’m working it out, I’m less enamored.  I know from experience that I go through this every time. What it takes to get out of this slump is to keep working on it.

I just gotta power through it.

If I switch to working on a different project, I will end up in the same place with that new project. So, I know it’s best to keep working on this project.

There’s a lot to be learned every time you complete a book. You get better at creating sell-able ideas. You get better at writing.  You get better at finishing. Being able to finish writing a book is an incredible valuable skill. There are an endless amount of books that have been started and never finished.

No one buys an unfinished book.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to go finish.

TTy’allLater.
~W.H.


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Obsidian Son (The Temple Chronicles #1)

Category : Reviews

3 star rating

3 out of 5 stars

 

cover image

#1 Nate Temple series

I’d be remiss if I criticized this book for having an unlikable protagonist.  My protagonist, Jack Story, is designed to be unlikable.  However, I do have to say that the protagonist in Obsidian Son is unsympathetic.

A lot of people think that you have to make your protagonist likable for the audience to root for them.  You don’t.  Two examples right off the top of my head are the MCU’s Tony Stark and Mel Gibson in Payback.

Tony, despite how charming RDJ’s performance is, is not likable. He’s rude. He’s a jerk to his friends. He only keeps people around based on how useful they are for him. His treatment of women is deplorable.

Mel’s character in Payback is a straight up bank robber. There’s nothing likable about this guy.

But we root for both of them, finding them sympathetic, because they do what we consider to be “the right thing.”  Sure, Tony is all those things I said he was, but at the end of the day he straps on the Iron Man suit and goes up against the forces of darkness.  Mel’s character just wants his cut of the money from the bank he robbed. Not all of it, just what’s due to him.

Things we think we would do in that same situation.  Thus we find them sympathetic.

This isn’t the case with Nate Temple. He’s got a Batman Origin, his parents were murdered. He’s a billionaire. He’s got magic at his disposal. But unlike Batman, he doesn’t do the sort of things we think we would do in that situation.

Imagine if you had magical power and essentially unlimited money.  Now add in the certain knowledge that your parents had been murdered. How would you spend your days?

Hunting down your parent’s murderer or would you run around collecting rare books for clients?

Exactly. Nate  doesn’t do that. He isn’t Batman. He is living his life as if no tragedy had touched him. And has a rare book store.

But there are some good things about the story. The use of the Minotaur from Greek myths is fun. The bookstore sisters are interesting. The action is fun. But I found Nate to be unsympathetic.


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2 Weeks Later…

It’s amazing how exhausting launching a book can be.  I’ve done it 5 times now, and each time it is an emotional rollercoaster.  It’s pretty much impossible for me to get any solid writing done during the whole time.

And this was the most successful launch I’ve had to date.  An “average” book will sell 200 copies in the first year.  Over a 10 year lifetime, they sell about 2000.  The Concrete Goodbye, on its first day, sold 61 books. On day 2, it sold 33.  in the first week it sold 175 copies.

It made it to the #1 spot in Pulp and Pulp Mysteries.  And #21 in Noir.  Not too shabby, huh?

Of course, that only lasted for a day or two. It eventually started to slide, and settled down to #6ish of Pulp and well further down in the other genre’s.  And with it the emotional high that comes from selling books.

And now comes the hard work of reaching out to reviewers, my mailing list to see if they can leave a review. On a recent Book Bub post, and an Amazing Insights post, it’s been proven that reviews- verified or not- are 90% as good as a purchase. The more a book is reviewed, the more Amazon bumps it up in the rankings even if there isn’t a sale to go a long with it.

Of course, I’ve also got to get cracking on the next book, The Nightingale’s Song. So, cheers, y’all!

I’ve got writing to do.


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Book title slider

Time for a cover!

Howdy, y’all!

You may not know this, but a few weeks ago I had a problem.  I got together with my cover designer Christine, and she came up with a couple of cover designs that were pretty cool. But she came up with 2 of them that were really kick ass. I couldn’t make up my mind.  So, I decided why not put it up to a vote?  So, I asked all the readers who have subscribed to my newsletter to vote on which cover they liked better.

The results were surprising!

And wow did you all vote!  There were around 480 votes cast. One cover dominated with over 78% of the  votes! That’s an amazing and decisive victory for one the two candidates.   You know, at this point I feel like I should draw this whole thing out and maybe post a video to a Rickroll on Youtube, but let’s cut to what’s important.

Without further ado the cover for The Concrete Goodbye and the synopsis!

 

cover of book

The cover

Greed, Sex, Murder, and Superheroes

 Blackmailing the world’s first superhero can be deadly

Jack Story is a Private Detective in a city full of superheroes.

Aging WWII super solider Major Victory is being blackmailed. The Major’s granddaughter, the apple of his eye, is an unwitting star of a sex tape.  If the Major doesn’t pay up, the world gets to see what his little darling gets up to at night. The Major wants Jack to make the blackmail stop. Preferably with lots of pain being inflicted on the blackmailer.

Jack takes the job.

But when Jack starts digging into the case things turn deadly.  There is an explosion downtown that levels a concrete building and kills a young superhero. The grand daughter insists the bomb was really meant her and not her best friend.

That same friend shows up in Jack’s office hours after the explosion, claiming she was the target all along.  She demands that Jack find out who’s responsible before disappearing into the night.

Can Jack find who is behind the blackmail and the bombing before others die?  What if it’s the granddaughter behind it all?

Sometimes being a detective in a city full of superheroes can be Hell.

 

Lemme know what you think. I’m super excited about the book, and the cover only makes it more exciting!

 


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Back of the book blurbs

Writing them is hard.

Like, I’d rather write another book than write one of these.

The thing about a good synopsis is that it has to 1: entice the reader. 2: provide enough detail of the plot but 3: not give away the core of the story and 4: be succint enough that someone can read through it in about 30 seconds.

Yeah, not fun. It’s copy writing not fiction writing.  And when you’re the writer of the story, you want to put in all sorts of details that you think are necessary, relevant, and interesting.

Like “Jane was a former cheerleader turned mom turned serial enterepuer but when she finds a dead body in her kitchen…”

But that’s full of a bunch of nonsense you don’t need. LIke the former cheerleader bit. Or the mom. or the business part.  What you need to know is that she found a dead body in her kitchen.  You know you’re in a mystery or a thriller right off.

I’m no expert on synopsis writing. I have read a few books on how to do it. The best one I’ve found to date is Bryan Cohen’s How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis. (no affiliate link) He breaks down the elements of a good synopsis. Then how he writes one. With a step by step guide like Step 1: write something like this. Step 2: now write something like this.

When you suck at synopsis writing like I do, it’s handy to have a book like this nearby.


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book cover

This Book made me have an Existential Crisis

Category : Reviews

3 star rating

 

So, I bought into this book on the description’s first sentence: If you love Star Wars and Starcraft, you’ll love this book.”

I love both those things so I was like “Sure!” And it started off like an episode of Battlestar Galactica. Which I also love. There was a hot-headed pilot. There were CAG’s. And spacefighters. It was under written but that might be a style choice. The second chapter was about an intelligence agent at a ball or something

I’m like, “Okay, let’s see where this goes.”

Then we jumped to the space marines.  they’re tromping around in space marine suits. They’ve got laser guns. All the sort of things that space marines are supposed to have.  Then the aliens show up. It’s a straight up clone of Zerg/Tryanids and that’s cool with me. I love that stuff.

And again, very under described. There’s a scene where a flagship space battleship is taken out by the aliens and crashes into the planet. In the space of about 5 sentences.  That’s too little space spent on something huge falling out of the sky. I mean, overall, there’s no emotional connection being made with any of the three or four characters or the 100’s or 1000’s of people that just died in that crash.  Take some time to acknowledge the tragdey of all those lives suddenly ending. Spend a moment on the dread that sets in when a symbol of your societies power is easily dispatched and sent tumbling to the ground.

But nope, we plow on to the scene that caused me to have the existential crisis.  You see, these space marines go to a space port. In their future tech marine armor suits. Looking for future tech space ships. They fight some aliens with their laser rifles. So they can join the fight up in space with all the other future tech space ships and spacefairing aliens.  When they run into magic.

That’s right, there’s magic in this book.

They participate in a very video game-esque fight scene with what turns out to involve quasi-religious icons. Now, you could get hung up on the fact that our POV character immediately identified and accepted these two quasi-religious beings with no problems. You could get hung up on the writing often staged scenes that seemed to be on pause until the POV character arrived to fully take in all the details rather than have the event happen to the POV character.  You could. But I didn’t.

I couldn’t get over the idea of Magic being in this world.

Which may not seem like a big deal, but follow me on this one. After a few days of thought- longer than it took me to read the book- I decided that a society that had magic before an industrial age would never develop machine technology beyond that point.  At least, not as we have/would.

You’re probably thinking something like “but a sufficiently advanced tech is indistinguishable from magic.”  And it is…to an outsider. But to someone who lives with both Magic and Technology are different and work by different rules.

Now, follow me on this: the industrial revolution started with candle making. Candle making is a long process of dipping wicks into tallow, parrafin, or beeswax. People started making the machines to dip a bunch of wicks at once to speed up the process to supply the insatiable candle market.  Because candles were the only way you could see at night.

Now, what’s the first spell the newbiest newb learns at magic school?  It’s light. In the stories, they all learn to create light to study by at night.  Now, imagine that you have access to a bunch of 1st year students looking to make some beer money. An enterprising person could pay those first years to cast light on rocks all day long. The investment is low- you just need rocks and 1st year students.  So you can produce them cheaply and quickly.

Faster and cheaper than candles.

AND the magic light rocks won’t burn down your house. In a matter of months, you could destroy the candle industry.  And you’re rich!  Without candles, you don’t get to the idea of gas lamps in your house. Without gas lamps you don’t get the idea to use electricity to create a safer alternative with light bulbs.  Without light bulbs you don’t get the idea for circuits. Without circuits you don’t get to computers. Without computers, you don’t get in space.  Not with technology, anyway.

You can with magic. But not science. If you have a world with magic, I don’t think you’ll develop much technology at all. Why have radios when I can do the same thing with magic mirrors?  See what I mean?

And in this book magic is no big deal. It’s like the difference between a Ford or a Dodge truck. It’s just a slightly different way of doing the same things.  No one is really impressed by it or freaked out by it.  Magic is just there. Some of the body guards for the President use magic. They’re not treated any different than the guys who use laser rifles.  And there are at least 2 people, maybe more I forget, that have been alive for 1000’s of years and it’s no big deal.

As I read the book I kept coming up against that idea: something would happen with technology and I would think “well, since they have magic this would probably never happen, because…”  And then I’d realize I’d spent 20 minutes thinking about how the world really doesn’t work rather than reading the rest of the scene.

It’s not like this is fantasy spaceships, these are sci-fi space ships. Characters distinctly say some things are technology. They’re described in science terms (coilguns, etc).  Then there’s magic, where shit just happens with a hand wave.

The characters equally accept both things as a defacto part of their lives.

Okay, I think I could write a whole book on why this doesn’t work but no one’s got time for that.  Why three stars?

Because I think if the writer pulled all the magic bits out, he’d have a compelling BSG/Starcraft mashup. It’s underwritten- there need to be better descriptions and more emotional context to what’s happening in the world.  The magic bits smack of RPG table top characters and things from the writer’s past or at least he’s lived with those characters in his head for a long time.

Oh, and I was provided this book for a fair and honest review.