Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Review – “One Hundred Candles” by Mara Purnhagen

“One Hundred Candles” by Mara Purnhagen

Often when you put teenager and ghosts together in one story you end up with “the Scooby Gang” as Buffy called he friends, which in turn was a reference to the Hanna Barbara animated series “Scooby Doo Where Are You?” that began back in the sixties.

There is no “Scooby Gang” to be found in the PAST MIDNIGHT series of Young Adult novels by Mara Purnhagen.

Instead we have Charlotte Silver, her family, and friends having to deal with the ordinary struggles of high school life. From struggles with schoolwork, getting a first boyfriend, and the concerns of a family in trouble. These day-to-day struggles only become all the more important when a real supernatural threat enters their lives. A potential divorce is more dangerous than a demon.

Though Charlotte’s parents are paranormal investigators, the story has never been about hunting down ghosts. Her father doesn’t believe in ghosts, it’s just residual energy. It’s about a young woman seeking an ordinary life, and not loosing it when its finally in her grasp.

In a previous review I described “Raising the Dead”, Purnhagen’s novella that takes place between PAST MIDNIGHT and ONE HUNDRED CANDLES as a weekend jaunt. A wonderful little story but has no major impact upon our characters or the world they lived in. I can certainly say that we are deep into the workweek with ONE HUNDRED CANDLES.

The threats have grown for Charlotte; socially, personally, and supernaturally. When it’s over, things can never go back the way they were.

As to Purnhagen’s writing style, I found something quite interesting in ONE HUNDRED CANDLES that I hadn’t notice in the earlier books. She would start a chapter at one point and then jump back and fourth telling the reader of the events that lead up to that moment before finally moving on. Truthfully, I was confuse at first and it took a few chapters to get use to, but then I began to look forward to seeing how she would start off the next chapter. It was a really fun and interesting way to keep us inside Charlotte’s mind and point of view of events around her.

It’s going to be hard to write further reviews of the PAST MIDNIGHT series, as I’ve really been enjoying them and looking forward to the next. Won’t be able to give a non-biased opinion to the next book in the series.

ONE HUNDRED CANDLES burns brightly Mara Purnhagen.

Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

Four Names of Professional Creativity.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

10 years isn't that long... if you're Flying Glory.

I don’t have to worry about coming up with anything to write this week.

This is a very important week. Not as important as some of course, but for me it is.

This week marks the 10th anniversary of when our comic FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY went up on the web. (

Don’t know how many of you might remember an online bulletin board called GEnie. But back then, when the Internet was basically text and the only graphics you got to see was when you downloaded them (or when you were trapped with in the shell of AOL), I hung out in several boards had that had to do with writing: Science Fiction Round Table, Script Writing, Animation, and COMIC BOOKS.

With in the comic book writing board, the offered opportunities for people to submit (upload) samples of their writing for other members to read and review. There were many professionals on board and some of them took time out of their busy schedules to read the work as well.

So one day, I decided to participate and submit some of my own writing. This would be a script for a comic book of my own creation. I had previously been sketching out characters I wanted to write. So I chose one and sat at the keyboard and wrote.

I didn’t really know where I was going to go with the story, except that I knew that it would take place during the ‘golden age’ of the 1940s and was to have a slight different pov of events.

And so I soon submit what became the script for the very first FLYING GLORY comic book story.

I was quite surprised when the reviews that came back extremely positive. There was only one, that I remember, that have a major negative problem with the story. And that involved a character I didn’t explain well enough. This character was very important to the whole story, but I understood what the problem was and was easily fixed (though I certainly didn’t want to right then, I had written something good.)

It was a great feeling to have people say that my work was good, and so I knew something should be done with it.

So I printed up copies of the script (cleaned up and corrected, of course) put them in envelopes and passed them around to publishers at Comic Con International (San Diego ComiCon).

The very fact that I thought they would have the time to read my work really says something about me I guess. I don’t know if its faith or stupidity.

But again, surprise upon surprise, months later I get a phone call from an editor from a small, yet well known, publisher that I had given a script to. He thought Flying Glory showed promise. We talked more about it, and I sent him more samples of the comic. (Another dumb move, I guess.)

As fate would have it, nothing ever came about of my own comic book, as the publisher went out of business with in the next year. Have nothing against them; just wasn’t meant to be.

(Who remembers COMICO.)

Years pass, and another former member of the GEnie moves to Los Angeles, and a whole lot closer to me. (A good thing since we’re now engaged.)

Shannon will probably tell about different parts of this, but eventually I decided that Flying Glory needed to be an update. (No, not an reboot, my original characters are too important to me.) So I asked her if she’d be willing to help me come up with a story about the granddaughter of the original Flying Glory.

Debra Clay loves the spot light, believes that she’s going to become a really successful rock singer her friends backing her up in their band. Then things change one day when she discovers has inherited her grandmother’s powers.

FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY is born. A book about teenagers that struggle with their everyday lives and relationship, who just happen to be in a band and are super heroes.

Now we are celebrating our 10th anniversary with a special Giant Size Issue 14 where we will discover a secret that has haunted Flying Glory for decades and will be a threat for many years to come.

Over the next year as the story progresses, I’ll be writing about different important things have made the Hounds of Glory the band to watch.

Oh, and remember that character my one critic thought I should change. Well he’s back in this story too. I wonder if you’ll know who it is.

Now sit back as we begin a ride through rocky life of Flying Glory and all her family and friends.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


It struck me one evening that the very first story I wrote for a high school Creative Writing class was a Paranormal Romance. A woman looses the man she loves in a terrible tragedy, his love for her keeps his ghost near but he can no longer be with her, so helps her find a new love.
A rather simple story, thinking about it now, but it was high school so what can I say. The teacher liked it, and I got a good grade, so that’s what counted.
I never thought of calling it “Paranormal Romance” back then. All I knew was that I liked ghost stories, and stories with strong character interaction (though I probably wouldn't have used those words.)
This all came to me back to me after reading SUPERNATURALLY KISSED (Book One of Frostbite series) by Stacy Kennedy.

Tess is a hard working businesswoman who’s greatest problem is her best friend sending her on blind dates. That and she can see ghosts. Most ghosts are simply an annoyance to the young woman who would far rather get on with her life than help them reach the other side. That is until one extremely handsome police detective starts haunting her every waking moment.
Help solve his murder, and he’ll be out of her life for good. She had no intention of falling in love.
There are two types of books on my book shelf (or e-reader): the ones I don’t want to put down and keep reading until they are done, and those I put down to eventually get back to. SUPERNATURALLY KISSED is one of the former. I’d switch on Kindle on my phone whenever I could to keep reading. (That’s a bit much I know, but I was reading during breaks at work).
Part of what kept me reading and wanting to know what happens next was about a third of the way through I got an idea of what the outcome was going to be, and I wanted to know if I was right wrong.
As the title suggests: SUPERNATURALLY KISSED (Book One of the Frostbite series), this is the start of a series, and because of this I was disappointed in parts of the ending I read. That said, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the Frostbite series to discover how close I was in my speculations of how the out come of the story will go. Beyond that, SUPERNATURALLY KISSED is an extreme enjoyable Paranormal Romance, where the physical desire for what cannot be had grows in to a far greater love.
Maybe someday I'll revive my high school story, and write a Paranormal Romance on par with Stacey Kennedy's ghostly detective.
Kevin Paul Shaw Broden
Four Names of Professional Creativity

Thursday, June 9, 2011

DC Comics - Reboot or not to Reboot.

Reboot or not to Reboot

I have dreamt of working on a comic book for DC Comics since the beginning. I was DC fan my whole youth and really didn’t ‘discover’ Marvel until I was in college. (Collecting back issues of John Byrne’s Fantastic Four got me in the door.) Believing that dream may soon be a reality, I am fearful of expressing my opinion, good or bad, about the upcoming reboot of the DC Universe. It might prevent me from being hired there.

Truthfully, the idea of a company wide reboot is a good idea.

Originally, a similar new start was suppose to happen at the end of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS all those years ago. And I thought that would have been a good idea also, but it didn’t happen. I won’t blame anyone but a lot of miscommunications and editorial issues got in the way and the newly created single universe was more confusing than the multiverse previously (See my review of JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #50 for more on this).

The idea of being able to introduce the DC Universe, its heroes, villains, and supporting starts to a whole new audience, without them feeling like they’re being dropping into an unknown warzone that’s been going on for years, is extremely good. I am looking forward to seeing how they pull it off.

However, (and here comes my fear), I do have some concerns. If this ‘reboot’ does start everything over from scratch, what happens to certain characters? Even though Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the like are all modern characters now, I hope and pray that the ‘golden age’ characters of the Justice Society and their associates still existed during the World War II era. Selfishly this concerns me more than anything else happening in the DC Universe. But I must have faith in the great creators, writers, and artists to take these original characters and treat them right.

My other concern is that the reboot isn’t going to be total. This was one of the problems that came out of the first CRISIS. Even though a whole new world was created, certain events of the old still existed. The worst that comes to mind was that Superman had never been Superboy, and yet the Legion of Super Heroes still have memories of interacting with the Boy of Steel. So John Byrne and other creators had to come up with an explanation for it. I did like some of the writing of that story, but in the end it turned out extremely confusing and even messed up the origin of Supergirl.

To counter that. I think George Perez’s version of Wonder Woman may have been the best post CRISIS book. What do you think?

So my fear is that even though we get a new start, and have a new audience introduced to these great characters, there’s still going to be baggage that will confuse people. Heck there’s a lot that’s happen over the last decade that confuses me.

I am trying not to make judgment calls on any of the books as they’ve been announced. Really. I want to experience them on my own one at a time. Decided to buy this one or that at the comic book shop. (I won’t get into the digital debate here.) Some I will like, others I won’t. Because that is how it is now.

So far, I have only seen two book covers and their descriptions that turn me off, but you know what? Even they deserve the right to be looked at further, read, and given a chance.

To those creators, writers, artists, and editors, I know you will give it your all to turn out absolutely the best work. Thank you in advance for whatever it is you create.

My only wish is that a year from now, we don’t have another Crisis or Flashpoint which puts everything back the way it was.

Just whatever you do, don’t ruin MY Justice Society of America. I still want to write them someday soon. Got this story I want to pitch…

Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

Four Names of Professional Creativity