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The Pickle Press Universe: Golem

The Golem has nothing to do with the character from the Lord of the Rings books and everything to do with different types of golems from Dungeons and Dragons.

According to my notes on the character, the Golem is an unknown evil scientist who created a "transmutation ray" that he accidentally deployed on himself during one experiment.  He discovered that he could transform himself into clay, stone, or iron as a result.  Each form gave him superhuman strength and different levels of invulnerability and size.  He could grow to eight feet tall in his clay form and lift up to 20 tons.  That increased to nine and a half feet and 30 tons in his stone form and twelve feet and 40 tons in his iron form.  He became a super criminal and fought various heroes before disappearing.

I'm sure I thought it would be cool to combine the different types of golems from D&D.  One thing I like about this character is the limit I put on his powers.  According to my notes, he couldn't transform into one of his three forms in the blink of an eye.  Switching to clay took him five seconds and he could stay in that form for as long as he liked.  Switching to stone took three times as long and he could only keep the form for an hour.  Switching to iron took thirty seconds and he could only stay in it for half an hour — and he lost the ability to speak while in it.

Keep it indie.

The Pickle Press Universe: Baron Water

Joshua Harolds was walking home from school one day in San Antonio when his astral form was removed from his body by an ancient being.  The being told him there was much evil in the world and that he would give Harolds the magical Helmet of Pangasaka, which would give him super powers.  He could choose to use the helmet for good or evil, but the ancient spirit warned Harolds that he would be forever haunted by the spirit if he used it for evil.  Harolds made the right choice and became the super hero known as Baron Water.

The Helmet of Pangasaka gave Harolds the power to control water and draw moisture from the air to boost his powers.  He could increase the temperature of the water to boiling points and shoot jets of water from his hands like they were fire hoses.  He could also change his body into water and create geysers and even temporary rivers and ponds.

This is one of the weirdest characters I created as a kid.  I'm sure I was trying to make a good guy version of the Spider-Man villain Hydro-Man (one of my favorites), but I have no idea why I gave him a magic helmet.  The whole idea of him using ambient humidity is goofy, and why I decided he could create boiling water and not cold water is beyond me.  Also, what kind of a name is Baron Water?  Why not Baron Pangasaka?  Or just Pangasaka?  I also don't know where I came up with "Pangasaka."  It sounds like some sort of southeast Asian word.

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The Pickle Press Universe: Voltage

James Lawrence grew up on a farm outside Atlanta, Georgia, but went on to study law and become a district attorney in New York City.  One night while returning home late from court, Lawrence saved the life of a man being attacked by two muggers.  The man turned out to be Professor Harold Jackenn, who offered Lawrence another way to fight crime in the city by making him a super hero.

Lawrence took a couple days to consider the offer, but eventually agreed.  Prof. Jackenn's experiments with electricity gave Lawrence the power to control and generate electricity.  He could unleash his power from a simple static shock to a full blast of lightning that could split trees, ignite fires, and definitely kill a man.  He could even fly if he were near power lines by following their electrical output and absorb electricity from machinery to increase his power.  He used his new powers to fight the crime he couldn't fight in the courtroom and was nearly killed in a battle with the Cobra (a villain who became one of the most nefarious men in the Pickle Press Universe, judging by how many times I reference him in the backstories of other characters).

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Onto round 2 of the Smut Marathon!

Thanks for any votes you cast in the first round of the Smut Marathon writing contest.  I'm happy to announce that I made the first cut and now have to write a 100-word story based on one of the other entries in the "metaphor" round.  My contribution was #20, entitled "Prey."

She was a cobra emerging from its den as she slid out of her dress, and I was her little, petrified mouse.

Wish me luck in the next round.

I need your votes for the Smut Marathon.

I'm sure that headline got your attention.  The Smut Marathon, despite its lurid title, is a big-time writing contest.  Winners are determined by reader votes, and the first announced prize this year is a pass to a writing conference in London.  I'd love to win this, so I need you to go to the site and vote.

The catch is that I can't tell you what I've written.  I will instantly be disqualified if I am caught doing so.  However, more votes equals more chances you'll vote for my work.

The voting site is here.  Please take a few minutes to read and vote.  If you couldn't guess, this site is not safe for work and the material is all erotica.


The Pickle Press Universe: Battle Master

Jason Wood "was a highly trained commando for the United States during the Vietnam War."  During one mission, Wood was assumed dead during an enemy attack by mortar fire and left behind by the rest of his unit.  Wood survived and saved the rest of the unit from further mortar fire.  He made it back to base and overheard the others telling their commanding officers that he was dead.  Wood, tired of the Army, decided to remain "dead" and "stowed away on a trade ship back to the United States" where he became a mercenary.

He also became a super hero of sorts, according to my old notes on the character.  He fought vampires, super villains, and an evil corporation called Thragg International.  I created the Battle Master when I was a young teenager, and he's essentially another version of a similar character I created called the Bullet.  Both are essentially remakes of Mack Bolan from the Executioner novels.  

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In the spirit of the season, and of decluttering, I'm offering crazy package deals on a lot of Pickle Press comics from now until Christmas Eve.  As the headline mentions, you pay what you think is fair plus $7.00 for flat rate priority shipping.  

So, if you think it's fair to just pay $7.00 for the shipping, that's fine.  If you think it's fair to pay $100.00 plus the shipping, that's fine as well.  It's all up to you.

Here are the packages I'm offering:

1. The Nice Package: Signed copies of Fear of Triangles (a quirky romance guest-starring Bigfoot), my Bronze Age horror comic tribute Mysteria's Mansion 2010 Annual, action thriller Rainstorm #1, "witchcraft western" Salem, AZ #1, the super heroine comic Shadow Woman #1, and martial arts comic Sun and Moon.  That's six comics in all that I normally sell at shows for a total of $18.75, but again you pay what you think is fair.  To further entice you, random Nice Packages will include additional limited edition photo cover copies of Salem, AZ #1 and Shadow Woman #1.

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I sometimes answer questions on Quora.com about music, radio, and writing to help promote my music blog — 7th Level Music.  Two of the most frequent questions I see are variations of: "How do I become a better writer?" and "I want to write a novel.  How do I start?"  One of my favorites was "I want to write a novel, but I don't have an idea, plot, or any experience writing.  What should I do?"  The best answer was from another professional writer: "Don't write a novel." 

The best answer to "How do I become a better writer?" is, of course, "Write."  Write whenever possible and remember that a lot of what you write will be junk.  You have to write the junk to get it out of your head, however, so write.

That being said, here's what most writers at conventions, meet and greets, and in online forums won't tell you — Writing is harder than you think and can be a real pain in the ass if you're not already wealthy, have a wealthy spouse or partner to support you while you write, or have a lucrative contract and / or advance from a publisher.

In case you're unaware, November is National Novel Writing Month — also known as NaNoWriMo.  It's when everyone is encouraged to write the first draft of a novel (at least 50,000 words) in a month or complete a work in progress.  There are plenty of apps, online support groups, and blogs encouraging you to write your 50,000 words.  It's a noble cause and effort, but here's another secret — It is batshit crazy.

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The Pickle Press Universe: Bullet

Stephen Smith was a New York City Police Department officer who came from a long line of police officers in his family.  While on a stakeout, he was spotted by drug smugglers, shot, and dumped into the Hudson River.  He was found by agents of a SHIELD-like organization, rescued, and brought back to health.  Smith decided to join this organization (called WADOS) to repay his debt to them.

He became known as Bullet and his specialty was firearms, particularly handguns.  He was outfitted with special bullets that did things like expand on contact or dissolve on the way to the target to release chemical agents and gasses.

The character is essentially my version of Mack Bolan or Remo Williams.  I read a lot of the Mack Bolan: Executioner paperbacks as a kid, so it only makes sense that I'd make a version of him for my universe.  He was also inspired by the Punisher, who was himself inspired by Mack Bolan.  I even gave Bullet a black costume with silver gloves, holsters, boots, belt, and magazine pouches.  He's even six feet tall, two hundred pounds, has black hair and blue eyes.  So, yeah, he's Mack Bolan (who was taller than six feet, if I remember right).

The Pickle Press Universe: Dr. Rao

Dr. Kuen Rao is a character I created sometime in my early teenage years.  He's essentially my version of Dr. No from the Bond franchise or Dr. Zin from Jonny Quest.  He's a Vietnamese criminal genius who, according to my notes, began his career as a drug smuggler and later drug kingpin in Africa for some unknown reason.  His drug ring was broken up by a big SHIELD-type organization I'll profile in a future post.

Dr. Rao moved to France and "achieved massive power in the underworld once again."  At some point he orchestrated an assassination attempt on the American ambassador to France, but I never wrote down why he did this. The attempt failed when a super hero known as the Telepathic Knight stopped him.  I'll write about him later.

Fleeing France, Dr. Rao went to the United States and "there gained more power than ever before."  He somehow gained access to high-tech weaponry, amassed a huge amount of wealth, and had "an army under his control" that became known as the Rao Empire.  His first scheme in the USA involved hiring some super villains to hold three nuclear missile sites for ransom, but that was stopped by a group of mutant super heroes (not the X-Men).

I made Dr. Rao extremely big for an average Vietnamese man — 6' 1" and 195 lbs.  This is probably because I had no idea of the average height and weight of Asian men when I was thirteen.  I've since learned the average height is 5' 5", so maybe Dr. Rao became a crime boss merely by standing up and intimidating people.

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