The trolls need to go back under their bridges and off the internet

I think I can safely say we all love the internet. It has given us instant access to news, sports, videos and a social media cavalcade so we can meet and greet friends and family around the world. But at the same time, it has given a forum for the worst of us … Trolls.

The one thing I hate about the internet, and social media for that matter, is the “trolls” that live on the web. You have a bunch of sissy boys (and girls) hiding behind their posed, self-propagating “selfies” to write trashy comments on every social media channel, news feeds, and chat room. All of this, in an effort, to put someone else down so they can feel good about how tough, how cool, they are.

1455912121933This is the movie “Mean Girls” in everyday life on the internet. “Trolls” is a good name for them, and being a fantasy writer, I am an expert on trolls. They are bottom dwellers with no ethics, morals or an ounce of compassion in them. They feed on the sorrow and suffering of people trying to have civilized discussions about a variety of topics and interests. Their only goal in life is to make people feel miserable. It doesn’t matter if they live under a bridge or in their mother’s basement, trolls enjoy making people feel like crap.

I realize there is a difference between some trolls and full-on cyber-bulling. Someone dissing a comment about whether “Batman v Superman” was a good movie or not is not hurtful, but it can lead people down the wrong path. The trolls of today can become the cyber-bullies of tomorrow.

“There are two kinds of evil people in this world. Those who do evil stuff and those who see evil stuff being done and don’t try to stop it.” – Mean Girls (2004)

Cyber-bulling has become a national pastime for today’s generation. We are raising a bunch of trolls who live to make others feel miserable by just shooting that “zing” across the bow because it makes them feel powerful. We all know how some of these stories have ended … in tragedy, and sometimes, death.

Remember these names… Ryan Halligan, Megan Meier, Jessica Logan, Hope Sitwell, Tyler Clementi, and Amanda Todd. These are just some of the names of victims of this downward internet trend. According to the Megan Meier Foundation, approximately 43% of the students report experiencing cyber-bullying during their lifetime and 15% of students admitted to cyber-bullying others during their lifetime.

This is the leading cause of what’s wrong with society today. We can’t have a meaningful discussion about anything without someone stepping up to put someone down. If you look at the current political climate we are in, you can see the results of the onset of trolls. If you like President Trump, you’re a racist, misogynist, Nazi. Name any topic and there is a hateful name being called at someone who disagrees with you.

Beware Troll Under Bridge SignIt has even crossed over into the world of fantasy and science fiction. When Finn Jones was cast as Danny Rand in Netflix “Iron Fist” series, some people were outraged at a “white boy” being cast in what should be a role for an Asian actor. This clearly demonstrated that these trolls never read a single Iron Fist comic book about the rich, white boy being raised in a hidden monastery to be its protector, the Immortal Iron Fist. The same can be said for the trolls on the other side of the aisle, who complained that Idris Alba was cast as Heimdall , or Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin, in Marvel’s movies. The trolls were out in full force then too. Get back under the bridge troll!

My point is this … Let’s try to be civil in our discussions on the internet. Thumper the rabbit (yes, I’m quoting Bambi here) said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone stuck to this as their mantra? Whether you’re talking politics, sports, the WWE or the Justice League movie, we can give our opinions without throwing in that left turn down the road toward the bridge where the trolls live.

Bryan Cranston, who’s played some of the worst people in TV and movies, said it best. “We’ve been trained since kindergarten: Be nice, be kind, share, put on a smile. So we’re conditioned to squash our natural selfish instincts, and that’s the right thing for society.” Amen, brother … Testify!


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt


The “Yellow Journalism” of yesterday is the “fake news” of today, only prettier

32185195164_d8a28b36a6_oHave you ever heard of The Yellow Kid? The Yellow Kid was the name of one of the first American comic strip characters that ran from 1895 to 1898 in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, and later William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. Created and drawn by Richard F. Outcault, this comic strip was ripe with social commentary in newspapers known for sensationalism and extreme editorial reporting. It’s where the term “Yellow Journalism” came from.

In today’s day and age, we are coming back to a new form of “Yellow Journalism” though it’s seen by a lot more people through social media and the internet and packaged in high-definition video and “talking heads” that need plenty of censorship for bad language. I can’t help but see the reflection of the Yellow Kid in today’s media.

For those of you who don’t know, I began my writing career more than 30 years ago as a U.S. Navy Journalist. I attended THE school for military journalism, The Defense Information School (DINFOS) at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. (now, the school resides at fort Meade, Md.). I have written hundreds of news articles, press releases and feature stories on the wonderful men and women of our armed forces. These articles, stories and photographs have been published in small town newspapers, major metropolitan newspapers and military publications.

I told you this because I wanted to talk today about the state of journalism, or actual lack thereof, in the world today. In my opinion, journalism today is not what it’s supposed to be. Journalism is defined as “the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information.” It is also the product of such activities. That being said, the way it is done by the news media today does not even come close to that definition.

We seem to have crossed that fine line between actual journalism and opinion news, and a lot of it revolves around politics. Now, I’m not trying to get political here, but it’s being abused by both sides. People are comparing what is being reported in the news to Watergate in the 70’s. I can tell you right now, we are nowhere near that.

If you’ve ever read “All the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, or seen the movie with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, you know how much they went through to get multiple sources to confirm their story about the going’s on in the Nixon Administration. Until they got those sources to confirm, their editor wouldn’t run the story.

Today, it seems like one anonymous source is good enough. The facts are being skewed to fit the agenda, and journalists are not supposed to have agendas. The public relies on these news sources to be the independent watchdogs of government, and yet, they are injecting themselves to be part of the story. Journalists are supposed to report on the story, not be the story.

Journalists today are selfie-taking, opinion making, propaganda artists that don’t care whether or not the story is true, as long as it puts them in the spotlight and meets their agenda. One of the great movies on what journalism is supposed to be is the Academy Award winning “Spotlight” about the child abuse cover-up within the Catholic Church. Just like in “All the President’s Men,” the journalists here went out of their way to get the facts before they printed the story. Without writers like this, the truth remains buried and silent.

Writer/photographer/film critic Seno Gumira Ajidarma said, “When journalism is silenced, literature must speak. Because while journalism speaks with facts, literature speaks with truth.” Though I agree with his sentiment wholeheartedly, we must also agree that writers have a certain responsibility above journalists.

Our stories must reflect the good, the bad and the indifferent in society in an attempt to bring about the improvement of the human condition. It was books like “The Jungle” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” that brought about change in society when journalism failed. I’m not trying to say that all writers need write profound soliloquies and novels professing the highs and lows of society, but rather talk about it in a way that reflects the good and the bad.

In the Forever Avalon series, I touch on racism, women’s rights, faith and family through the adventures of a modern family in a medieval fantasy world. I reacted to the good and the bad of these “hot button” issues and showed the reader how best to resolve such issues. I’m not professing to be an expert in this, but I give an honest opinion and open approach to dealing with these subjects.

Norman Mailer said, “If a person is not talented enough to be a novelist, not smart enough to be a lawyer, and his hands are too shaky to perform operations, he becomes a journalist.” Sad as that may be to hear the truth, we (journalists, writers, poets, novelists, etc.) help shape the mindset of society through reporting the facts, giving opinions and reflecting on society today. I just think we need to make sure we separate fact from fiction so that the people, our readers, can make an informed judgment.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt


We need a little more “steampunk” in our sci-fi/fantasy reading

11110004269Steampunk is defined as “a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.” To me, it’s more than modern technology with a Victorian twist. This genre has been on the rise with its push in video games with the award winning Bioshock franchise, TV series like Steampunkd, and in books, starting with the Godfather of Steampunk, Jules Verne, to authors like Cherie Priest and Michael Moorcock.

Some people view it more as a fashion style, combining Victorian-era sensibilities with brass fittings, gauges and gears. Weird optics, mechanical arms and powerful weapons are the backbone of steampunk style, but again, it’s the story behind the style that makes it appealing.

I always imagined a meeting in France between Nikola Tesla and Jules Verne in the spring of 1882, discussing the possibilities of Verne’s creations using Tesla’s technology. This would be the ideal setting of where it all began. The birth of Steampunk as we know it today.

One of the best representations of Steampunk in film is the Japanese animated film, Steamboy. Though most of the Steampunk technology in the film was represented by weapons, it is still a wonderful tribute to the genre. Steamboy tells the story of Ray Steam, a British boy in 1863 England, and how the invention of a “steamball” pitted Robert Stephenson, the first master of the steam engine, against Ray’s father, Edward, and his “Steam Castle” at the London Exposition. It’s style, look and feel could make any Steampunk aficionado jump for joy. Another great example of Steampunk is the Japanese TV series, Fullmetal Alchemist. It combines the style and look of Steampunk with alchemy and magic.

Steampunk inventor/author/mechanic Jake von Slatt said, “To some, ‘steampunk’ is a catch all term. To me, it is essentially the intersection of technology and romance.” That’s quite an opinion. I think Steampunk does have a bit of a romantic flair, especially in the wardrobe. Men’s attire is very masculine in Steampunk while the women are sexy and feminine. In both cases, the trend is very fashion forward, evoking strength and power while being strangely attractive.

I’ve started to bring some Steampunk into my own writing. Though my Forever Avalon novels are more medieval fantasy, in contrast, through my stories, they are moving forward in look and technology. Like Fullmetal Alchemist, I am trying to weave those elements together with things slowly coming of age. In my next novel, The Outlander War, I am leaning more towards the Renaissance while keeping some of the medieval fantasy elements there.

I created weapons I call GunStars, named after the ships in The Last Starfighter movie (one of my favorite sci-fi movies of the 80’s). They look like oversized flintlock pistols, using cartridges containing alchemical mixtures that, when combined with the magic within the GunStar, fires explosive rounds. From fireballs and ‘magic missiles’ to acid rain and hail, these weapons make even the more novice warriors more formidable.

I realize that these creations of mine are not 100% Steampunk, but they were inspired by it. Steampunk is as Jake von Slatt said, “an intersection” of technology and whatever your imagination brings to the table. Don’t think of it as outdated, but rather a futuristic twist on history. That’s some that can spark the curiosity of any reader.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a rock n’ roll extravaganza, even if you don’t read comic books

Guardians_Of_The_Galaxy_Vol_2_Official_Poster_Landscape“I am Groot!” says it all, but for those of you who don’t speak Groot, let me give you my review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, in theaters now! I want to start out with a slight confession … I’m not a big fan of Marvel Comics’ Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series. I grew up with the original 30th Century Guardians (some of who actually make an appearance in GotG Vol. 2) of Vance Astro, Martinex, Charlie-27, Starhawk, Nikki  and Yondu). The new Guardians are a mish-mash of space-spawned superheroes that have had their origins altered and/or updated for both the new continuity and the films.

That being said … I will admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with all its “Easter Eggs” and subtle hints to the comics, and a “nod and a wink” to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) future. It is action-packed, fast-paced, and quite funny. It also had a few emotional, tear-jerker moments that tie the first two movies together. Overall, it is a great start to the summer movie season with more on the way (Spiderman: Homecoming and Wonder Woman, ‘nuff said!).

Set to the backdrop of another amazing soundtrack, “Awesome Mixtape #2,” Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures, a few months after the events of the first movie, as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they fight off a race of genetically-superior beings, and the Ravagers, all while they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the MCU continues to expand.

First and foremost, the cast is top-notch. They have cast awesome actors to fill these roles. From Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillian, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel to Kurt Russell as Ego (Peter’s father) and even cameos by Sylvester Stallone and others. They have these characters laid out perfectly and make them 100% real, like they just stepped out of the comic book.

Secondly, the script had a great mix of humor and action with the over-arching theme of family. You learn a lot of evil truths about Peter’s father (which I won’t spoil here) and how it shaped him into the Star-Lord of today. The Ravagers go from “a space gang of thugs” to a more meanable, yet honorable, group that covers the entire quadrant of space in the MCU. The Sovereign, especially their uppity, genetically superior Ayesha, are more of a nuisance than a threat, but the idea of “Adam” awaiting his birth (true believers will know who I’m talking about) is one of the best “Easter Eggs” in the movie.

Speaking of which, James Gunn goes all out to out to give us every hint, clue and subtle reference to the MCU in his movies. Cameos from some of the original Guardians by Hollywood stars, MCU characters from Howard the Duck (even with a reference to the God-awful Howard the Duck movie), the Watchers (with the legend, Stan “The Man” Lee) and even some of the most obscure characters from the MCU filling the ranks of the Ravagers.

Even if you’ve never read a comic book before, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a great roller coaster ride you will enjoy. You may not get some of the quirky, comic book references, but you will enjoy it. It’s funny, sometimes irreverent humor, will make you laugh, the death of one MCU character (again, no spoilers here) will touch you, and Baby Groot is so damn adorable, you will want one for yourself.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt

So many adorable cat videos, not enough time to write

kitten-playing-with-keyboard-156531001-57d9bb7d5f9b5865168d661fPeople have said the internet is one of the greatest accomplishments in human history. It gives everyone access to news, information and social acceptance, right at their fingertips. At the same time, it is also the source of decreased productivity in the workplace.

We’re all guilty of it; taking a few seconds to check our email, look at our friends Facebook status, see who won last night’s game, or watch one of many cat videos. According to a 2014 survey conducted by, 89% of respondents say they waste some part of their workday talking on their cellphones or texting (50%), on the internet (38%) or just distracted by co-workers, taking long snack or smoke breaks, etc.

It’s frustrating, even more so for writers. People like to think that writers have a great job, just sitting in front of their computer, writing all day. While that may be true, I think writers have a greater problem when it comes to distractions. As much as some of these distractions aid the creativity, and to some extent, the sanity in writers, it is Hell when you have a deadline to meet.

Some of the best ways to avoid distractions is by writing when your friends are offline (usually late at night), setting goals for how many words you want to write each day, or if you’re desperate, try going into seclusion somewhere that there is no internet connectivity. These are some basic pieces of advice, but each writer should manage their own writing spaces for what works best.

Author and “Brain Scientist” Jeffrey Stibel calls it “attention dopiness,” stating that the problem is associated with dopamine levels. The higher the dopamine in our bodies, the better we feel, and these distractions (cat videos, rock n’ roll music, etc.) are what helps us maintain that high. One has to wonder, what started all this? Did we always have these distractions, even before the internet?

If you’re as old as I am, you remember your mother telling you not to do your homework in front of the TV, play your brother in PONG before dinner, reading comic books instead of finishing your book report on Huckleberry Finn or having an epic battle between GI-Joe and the evil Empress Barbie and her clone army before bedtime. These distractions have been with us our whole life; they’ve just taken a new form.

I think deep down we want these distractions, to help us get through the often-monotonous work day and breathe a sense of fun and adventure. So, maybe we shouldn’t mind the distractions, but manage them better instead. Set goals, parameters and guidelines about how and where these little side trips take us and when to focus on the job at hand. A little distraction never hurt anyone, unless you let it consume you completely.

So put down your cell phone, you can text your BFF later or finish that game of Candy Crush another time; and don’t worry, that totally adorable video of the cat playing piano will still be there tonight. Now, get back to work!


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt