Thursday, September 5, 2013

SKY JUMPERS Official Book Trailer

OK.. this is all kinds of awesome.. I love stories like this. Definitely going on my 'to read' list!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Insecure Writer's Group.. (Think Large, Act Small)

So.. it's been a while since I've blogged. I wish I could come up with a witty joke about what has been going on.. or that I had some really, really valid excuse.. but the truth is that there's nothing going on, and I have no excuse.. I've just been stuck.

I seemed to be having some good success back in November/December.. and even into February I was doing well..and then suddenly everything sort of slowed down.

Then when I figured out that LDStorymakers wasn't going to happen.. everything sort of died.  The little spark that was glowing sort of went out.

My WIP suddenly seemed lost.. discombobulated, completely out of sync.  My thoughts stopped getting me excited. In fact my writing thoughts sort of stopped altogether.  Not that I didn't have some thoughts, but they were mostly negative, guilt ridden thoughts.  It wasn't, "I should do this, or this.." they were more, "Why am I even wasting my time?"

*sigh*.. The really frustrating part is, I know what my stumbling blocks are, I know how to overcome them.. I know what I should be doing.  I know that doubt creeps into everybody's minds, I know that I haven't worked hard enough to have earned type of success that I want. I know that allowing myself to become distracted isn't just something that happens.. it's a choice that I consciously and knowingly make.  I know that I need to just sit down and pound out a minimum amount of words a day.. even if I don't feel like it, even if there are no words in my heart to speak.. even if the desire to write isn't there.  I know that repetition breeds habit, and that success isn't something that just magically happens one day.. in fact I know all too well that there is no such thing as 'success happening'.. that there is no destination, but rather only a journey.. and that success isn't something that occurs but that it is something that joins you mid-journey.

I know these things. I believe these things. I honestly do.. and yet.. still I struggle to maintain my direction.  My focus wanders. Sometimes I wonder if I have a focus at all.  I have goals.. but they seem to get swallowed up by daily distractions.

Yogi Berra, that fountain of quotations, once said that, "If you don't know where you are going you'll end up someplace else." (think about that for a moment)

Another, more traditional quote, from William Jennings Bryan, "Destiny is not a matter of chance.. it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."

I guess my insecurities creep into my small decisions, which in turn has a domino effect from there.  It start small, with just those nagging doubts and fears.. and then morphs into the sort of problems that plague me today.

I need to make better decisions on a daily basis.. I need to stop looking at the end goal and start focusing on the small things.. start at the bottom and begin correcting my mistakes from there.. and the rest will follow.

The problem is, how do you keep your eyes off the big goal?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Review: Inferno

Inferno by Dan Brown

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh Dan Brown.. you can't keep using the same recipe and good ole' cookie cutter and expect to bake new cookies. Sure, the cookies taste pretty much as good as the other cookies you've shared with the world in the past.. but at some point the 'wow' factor just turns into.. oh look, Dan brought more snicker-doodles to the party.

This book tries SO HARD to be something more.. but the problem is, it's impossible to take the exact same recipe and ingredients and combine them into something new. Milk, Flour, sugar, butter isn't going to suddenly morph into Duck a l'orange.. no matter how much effort you put into baking it.

Once again, Dan Brown goes above and beyond in setting, giving us details that are beyond any tour guide's dreams.. but no matter how pretty the wrapping, at the end it's still just snicker-doodles in a pretty box with an intricately described bow.

Yes I bought the book.. hoping to be whisked back to 'Angles and Demons' type enjoyment, but I found myself instead reading with a growing dread as I knew exactly what was coming.. and I wasn't disappointed.. or more correctly, I actually was.

Robert Langdon has to be the worlds luckiest guy.. not only is he a hunky 50 something Harvard professor, but he has the uncanny luck to always share life-or-death adventures with amazingly brilliant and beautiful women who all fall madly in like with his intelligence and earnest do-goodedness. He has transformed from an anti-hero I admired to the grown up version of that one kid in school who was the teachers pet and narked on everybody who tried to do even the tiniest little bit of mischief.

For all the 'international best seller' hype.. this is probably the last Dan Brown book I'll buy.. next book I'll just use a name generator, scratch out the printed names and insert the new names.. and reread the old story and.. voilĂ .. I get the 'new' story without spending $16.00 to be disappointed.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

LDStorymakers Blues..

After last year I was looking forward to attending LDStorymakers with a full manuscript in tow.. pitching to an agent or two.. and just overall soaking in the writing atmosphere.  Instead I'll be here at home instead as my plans hit a snag about a month ago...

I'm super bummed, but as it often does.. life has demands that don't always mesh with our desires.

I've been in a bit of a writing slump lately as well.. so it seems I could have used the recharge to my writing batteries, but I'll have to overcome this drudgery on my own it seems.

I still feel like I have good ideas, and that I have at the very least a modicum of writing ability so as to make the story readable on a certain level.. I just need to get off my butt.

I've spent too long waiting to be inspired.. I need to just flip the bird at the empty chair next to me that is sometimes occupied by my internal muse, and just put my fingers on the keys and move them up and down until something resembling a story stumbles across my screen.

I'm also hopeful that some of my Storymaker friends will throw me a bone and post some highlights.
(hint.. hint)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review: Feedback

Feedback by Robison Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting conclusion to the Variant storyline.. Robison Wells does a good job of keeping the reader guessing as to what is going on, who the main characters can trust.. and just who, or what, is at the bottom of it all.

I suppose that I should have guesses as to the source of the mischief, but I was still surprised with the ending.

Wells has stated that he has no plans to go further with the story, but it ends in such a way as to leave the possibility open for more.

I enjoyed the read immensely, I really thought the building action to the climax was well done. I really didn't know which way our heroes were going to attack the situation, which always makes for a fun read.

Well worth the time and expense to read.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review: Variant

Variant by Robison Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've followed Rob Wells for a bit through his blog and facebook, but I hadn't read any of his books.. so, given the accolades that Variant received I figured I needed to give it a whirl. I'm glad that I did.

The book starts out fast, very fast, like Olympic Sprinter fast.. and it maintains that pace throughout. The action is unending, and the characters are well written and interesting.. I found myself getting caught up in their stories and trying to guess what each of their motivations was. It wasn't until the big secret reveal that I really understood where the story was headed, or thought I did anyway.

I can honestly say that I didn't see the twist coming, and although it ended up moving into an area that I wouldn't have thought I'd enjoy.. I did. What I mean is, if you'd have told me beforehand that the book would go in that direction, I would have probably rolled my eyes, but the truth is that I was so into the story by then that it didn't matter, I was hooked.. and I'm glad I was.

If you are a fan of Veronica Roth's Divergent, you'll totally love Variant.. not that they're really that similar, but the writing and pacing seemed similar to me.

Overall, a very enjoyable read, now I'm off to finish the next book in the Variant chain, Feedback.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review: Fragments

Fragments by Dan Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting follow up to Dan Well's "Partials".. Fragments picks up where Partials leaves off and goes off in an interesting direction, (literally). If you liked Partials then you'll have to read Fragments, it does a very good job of continuing the story of Mankind's battle against the cyborgesque Partials.

Personally I like Dan Wells as an author.. I like his pacing, and his books always seem to have an interesting plot development that you can't really anticipate. I haven't always liked all his surprise twists (I still think IANASK would've been better without a supernatural element), but I do like his writing style, he has great action scenes, and I appreciate the time he takes to set a scene before just running off into dialogue.

I was expecting another Wells level book that would keep me guessing and leave plenty of intrigue for the next book, and I wasn't disappointed. Fun read.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Adventures in Writing (Part 2)

Shot of my room on Saturday night.
.. so when we left off last time, Saturday had been super productive and I was confident of hitting my goal of 25k words for the weekend.  I was just under 12k words total for the first day and had a full day and a half to match that to essentially be right on the cusp, so I went to bed with dreams of nearly half my story written.

Then I woke up Sunday.

I was just out of the shower and had eaten my breakfast and was getting into writing mode when I got a call on my cell phone from a number I know all too well.. home.

I answered, and after a few cursory, "How is everybody" type questions.. the purpose of the call was revealed.

"Your son has locked himself in the downstairs bedroom and can't get out."  Funny how he's always 'my son' when he does things like this.

To set the stage a little.. the house we're renting here in Harrisonburg is a nice older home.. we have good space, (around 2800sq feet), and we're very close to campus.. really when we were looking for places to live there was nothing even close to this in terms of distance from campus, size.. and even the rental price wasn't too bad.  We were looking at moving to a really sort of questionable home for about $100 more that was about 10 miles away from town. So we were really blessed to get a chance at this place.

HOWEVER.. it's not a perfect home.  There are several doors that have real locks on them, not the 'hole in the middle that you can unlock by poking it' type inside door.. but the 'needs a key' heavy door, for bedrooms.

The problem this brings is, when a door is locked, we sorta have no way to open it.  We've had to crawl through a window and take a door off it's hinges a couple times in the past.

Yeah, he's sort of a mischevious
2 years old.
Well, on Sunday.. my youngest (That's him over ---->) had locked himself in the boys room downstairs. The bad news, that is one of the keyed doors that we don't have a key for, and since it's ground level, we've got the window locked and blocked.. so you can't get into it from the outside.  Plus, the hinges are on the inside of the bedroom, so I couldn't even try to get in that way.

So, that created a very interesting situation where he was in the bedroom crying, I was 10 minutes away in a Hotel, and my wife and kids were trying to tell him to unlock the door, (one of those small middle knob locks), but to no avail.

So, my wife drove over to get me quickly, leaving the older kids in charge (12 yo and 10 yo) for a moment with instructions to not leave the door and to try to distract their brother so he didn't get too scared.

Once I got home, we tried calling a locksmith, but Harrisonburg is dominated by a couple of reglions, one is Amish Mennonite, the other is Church of the Bretheren. Both Churches are very conservative.. so finding a locksmith on Sunday was impossible.

I tried to use a credit card, but the door was closed so tight all it did was tear the card apart.

After numerous attempts to show him, through the window, how to open the door and having him smile initially but then give a big frown.. which of course breaks your heart.

So.. after some time trying to do pretty much everything, I noticed that the door knob screws were on my side of the door, so I grabbed a screwdriver and took the screws out.  That allowed me to take half of the door knob off, then from that I wasn't able to unlock the door, but I was able to bend the piece of metal that acted as the shaft that engaged the lock.

So.. I spent the next hour or so bending that piece, slowly at first, and then as it weakened, more and more until it finally broke. Once it broke I took a hammer and used a screwdriver and a wood block, and used it to push the lock out and finally open the door.

Koa, (my youngest's name), came out and just clung to my wife for a while before switching to me.  I spent the rest of the afternoon just snuggling with him while he watched cartoons and slept.

Breaking the door knob ended up not being a big deal, we'd bought a door knob to replace on that door anyway because of the lock, so we just threw the door knob away and put the new door knob on the door so we won't have that problem in the future.

Needless to say, Sunday's writing never actually happened. I ended up staying at home on Sunday and going back to my hotel on Monday morning and getting my stuff and checking out.

So.. I got a day and a half of production, essentially 50% of my time.. and since I got to almost 50% of my goal, I was satisfied with my progress.

Writing is my goal, my passion, but my kids are my life. If there is ever a choice between the two, my family will always come before any writing.

So.. that was my weekend. Great day of writing.. followed up by a Great day of being Daddy, (once he was freed from his prison).

Overall.. still a great writing experience. Now.. my next adventure is LDStorymakers in May.  I can't wait.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Adventures in Writing (Part 1)

View of my room on Saturday Afternoon..
if the glare wasn't there on the compture screen,
you'd all get a chance to critique my WIP.. but alas.. 
 So, this past weekend I did my very first personal writing retreat.. the plan was to spend Friday evening, all day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning at a hotel about 10 minutes from my house.. no distractions, no TV, no internet.. just me, my notes, and my computer.

So of course, as we all know when you have kids.. it all went exactly like that.. no possible way anything could happen to throw a monkey wrench into my weekend, especially when I've prepaid for the hotel room, right?

So.. Friday night was good.  Not incredibly word count productive.. but good.  Everybody has their way of brainstorming things, their thing that switches on their writing mentality.  I know Brandon Mull (author of Fablehaven) takes long walks with his wife to talk about the plot of his story.. I've heard of a few other things.. some people go for long drives, some go workout.. for me, (and oddly enough I think one of the Writing Excuses crew.. Howard Taylor I believe), what I've found that works best for me is.. a long hot soak, (preferrably a hot tub or jacuzzi, but a bathtub will suffice if I have to), and a Diet Pepsi.

So Friday night I got my room set up, clothes stashed, food stocked in the fridge, (the room had a real nice kitchenette), batteries taken out of the remote control and sent home w/ my better half & kids who dropped me off.. all in all everything was set up exactly as needed.

View from the bed. I moved the table from the
 kitchen to be on the carpet, otherwise every time
I got up it made a horrible screeching sound when
I scooted back, plus I liked having the light
 directly above me in the evening.
Then.. I loaded the tub with hot-hot water, grabbed a pop, and plopped in to mull over my outline and plot in my head.  It's a great way to relax and yet gather my thoughs.  Alas.. no bubbles.. but it was still a great start to the weekend.

I wrote a bit that night, around 1100 words or so.. nothing big, but enough so that I could get a rolling start on Saturday.  I did have a little bit of a hard time sleeping that night.. weird bed, hard pillows, sound of cars on street outside.. usual travel complaints, but I think I finally konked out around 1am.

Then on Saturday I hit the ground running. I was up and writing at 8:30, (after breakfast and a shower).  I wrote in stretches of about 3.5 hours. Anything more than that and I started to wander a little in my focus.. but I stayed pretty solid.  By the end of the day I'd logged just under 11,000 words. I was very happy with that.. I figured my minimum word count of 25k words for the weekend would be a breeze.

--- Then.. the storm hit on Sunday morning.  I'll go over that in my next post, and give an update on both the WIP and the aftermath of Hurricane Hiatt.

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Plan for 2013? Spectacular Failures!!

It's been nearly a year since my "You have a friend in Failure" post.. and I'm proud to say that I have had a number of failures in the past year, but my goal for 2013 is to fail in truly spectacular fashion.

If that's confusing.. take a quick jaunt down memory lane of February, 2012 to one of my favorite Blog Posts that I've done on this site.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I've Got The LTUE Blues...

So today is the first day of Life, The Universe, and Everything.. (LTUE), one of the best writing conferences in the Western US, and conveniently located within driving distance of where I was living a year ago, Springville, Utah.

Now, however, I'm 2200 miles to the right.. which makes driving there a little more inconvenient.  So as we've resumed the life of a Struggling Student and Co., I'm not attending.

That hasn't really been a big deal because I am going to LDStorymakers in May.. and it's just as good as LTUE, if not a little better imho, but today.. all my writerly friends are happily blogging about what classes they'll be attending, or where they'll be hanging out for lunch, or when they'll be doing book signings.. and it's really got me wishing I could be there.

I still remember last year's conference.. it was the first real truly writing conference I'd been to, (I did go to CONduit before LTUE, but it was a lot more sci-fi than just merely writing.)

Anyway.. today is the day that I'm supposed to be getting ready for my writing retreat this weekend.. and I'm getting there.. nearly got all my papers graded for my Online Business Law class, and I've been racking my brain trying to nail down the last bits of my outline for the story I'm going to write, in full, this weekend.  (Don't care if I dont' sleep, don't care what news I miss out on unless it's family stuff obviously.. this is just me and my computer and 3 days of killing it!)

But in the back of my mind I can't help but just have a jealous ache over not being at LTUE. The atmosphere is so conducive to writing.. it's like an oasis in the regular day to day grind of trying to convince myself that I'm not wasting time and thoughts over this obsession that's really only gotten stronger over the past 4-5 years.

So.. while I am happy that it's Valentine's Day.. and for all that means with my lovely wife.. (we sorta celebrated it last night by watching a movie that turned out to be not so much romantic as odd, The Words.. and by spending a romantic evening apart as she went to help our 2 year old fall asleep and ended up falling asleep herself and sleeping until 5am in his bed... ahh parenthood.)... a small part of me can't help but feel sort of bummed over not being able to submerse myself in the LTUE environment.

I'm hoping to recreate a little of the atmosphere this weekend.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My first writing retreat..

I've read about some of my writing friends going for a long weekend with other authors to a remote area where they do nothing but write for a weekend.. but seeing as how I'm sort of living in a new area where I know nobody, I decided to check into doing a solo writing retreat.

There are some lovely bed and breakfast type writing retreats in Virginia, incredible in fact.. historic areas, in incredibly beautiful, restored period Mansion type homes.. with lush forest and woodlands nearby, it's breathtaking.. but it's also wallet-draining.  Given that we're near Masanutten Virginia, there is a resort there with dozens of homes for rent specifically as a writing retreat. They boast Hot Tubs, and Incredible Walking Paths, and Hi-speed internet.. but that's the problem.. I don't need any of those things.  All they do is suck time away from writing.  I do enough of that at home.

The Crimson Inn, $45.00 a night!!
So.. I did some checking and found the perfect spot for me.  An older Hotel in a small town just 6.5 miles from my house.  I'm far enough away that I'm isolated, but close enough that I can be home in 10 minutes in an emergency.  The Hotel has no internet, and a TV in a Armoire that I can zip-tie shut for the weekend.  It has a kitchenette, so I can bring some food and never even leave the room.

Plus, it has an actual table with foldable wings so I can make is big enough for my computer, notes, and drinks.. not some desk mounted to the wall with a giant mirror right over it so I'm staring into my own dead, lifeless eyes when I get stuck for just the perfect way to describe that difficult scene.. I can move the table around the kitchen area, sit facing one way, then another.. till I find the perfect writing zone.

The Hotel isn't fancy.. but it's perfect for what I need. The price is ultra-cheap, (I'm taking a 3-day weekend for under $150, including food), the distractions are minimal, it's all enclosed with food, lodging, and work area, and best of all.. I'll be alone with just my computer, no internet, no games, and nothing to do for 64 straight hours but sleep and write.

My only requirement is to have a workable outline and character list created before I go, and I'm in the process of finishing that now.  Well.. not RIGHT now.. but now-ish.

I'm really looking forward to my personal retreat.. My goal is 45k words.  Aggressive, sure.. but if you're gonna dream, dream big.  :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

So, breaking back into the routine slowlly..

All I wanna do, is have some pun...

  • What do you call a short fortune teller who escapes from jail?
    • A small medium at large.
  • Australian Local Area Network
    • A LAN down under
  • Good news.. the  man who fell into the upholstery machine is now fully recovered.
  • Democracy: Your vote counts.
  • Feudalism: Your Count votes
  • If you're a poet who writes backwards, do you write inverse?
  • Mahatma Gandhi never wore anything on his feet, and he ate so little that he developed delicate health and bad breath. 
    • The result was a super-callused fragile mystic plagued with halitosis.
  • Did the soldier survive the mustard gas and pepper spray attack?
    • He did, he's now a seasoned veteran.
  • Did you hear about the cartoonist who was attacked in his studio?
    • Police say the details are sketchy.
  • He said my writing was average, but I think he was just being mean.

Wakka Wakka

Monday, January 21, 2013

How Does Christmas suddenly become January 21st?

So.. I took some time off over the Holidays to spend time with my family and sorta relax from writing, and the blog.. and everything.

And when I looked at the Calendar today it was January 21st.

When did this happen?  Where did the first 3 weeks of January go?  Did anyone else notice a time warp, or just me?

Anyway.. so I'm back at the grind, a bit.  I've been really playing around with my Sci-Fi, Distopian idea for a while and I think that's going to be my New Year's project.. once I get my First Chapter's all polished and ready to go for the LDStorymakers First Chapter Contest, that is.

I've got 2 entries for the First Chapter Contest.. and I'm trying to get them cleaned up and sparkly new before sending them off. I've got about 3 weeks, so I think I'm OK on time.. but obviously it seems to slip away from me occasionally, (time that is), so I'm trying to be a bit more proactive this time.

Also had a really interesting idea pop up for a new story.. luckily I wrote it down in pretty good detail, cause I honestly can't remember a thing about it right now.. just know that I really liked it at the time, and I spent a good 20 minutes writing down all the important details so I wouldn't forget them all...

.. like I have.

Anyway, I'll post more about that idea, and I'll give some teasers about my new current project, in a few weeks as things get rolling.

It's almost time to hit the grind stone a bit for the build up to LDStorymakers.. I've registered, got my hotel, and just this past weekend booked my flight, (Thank You Southwest for having a huge sale on plane tickets from Washington DC to SLC!!).. so I'm all set, physically.  Just gotta get my mind right and get my stuff ready to pitch.

Good times.. good times.

Guess what time of year it is.... FIRST DRAFT TIME!!!