Monday, July 14, 2014

Stephen King's "On Writing"

Monday, July 7, 2014

New Project.. New Direction.. New Energy!!

So.. after spending copious amounts of time looking at happy people who are having the sort of success that I crave, and looking at their wonderful lives full of exotic travel or happy faced photos in exciting places and their beautiful homes full of happy children who never act out, say cross words, or have a wrinkle on their always brand new designer clothes; I've uncovered a fundamental truth.

Pictures lie.

There is no perfect family, no perfect kids, no magic dresser eternally full of pressed designer clothes, and no magic bullet for writing your first 'next big thing'. You just write, today if possible, and then write some more tomorrow, and then eventually you write so much that you either stumble across hidden talent inside of you, or you stumble across something interesting enough that people overlook your lack of talent to read your interesting story.

Bottom line is, however, you just write. Every day.
So.. I'm off, to write. Right now.

I've got a new project that I've been thinking about for 2 years now.. I think I've got it all figured out for the most part.. it's based on a story that I actually used back in 2012 in my first (and only) Writer's Platform-Building Competition.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Monster Hunter Nemesis

Monster Hunter Nemesis
Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So somehow I lucked into a great deal on the Kindle version of Larry Correia's latest Monster Hunter International book.. Nemesis.

I got the book 10 days before it's official release, and got it at 46% off the listed price.. so I essentially got an advanced copy for only about $5.50. Incredible deal, I know.

My thoughts without spoilers. Very fun read.. learning more about Agent Franks was great, he's long been a fan favorite.. not only because of his shrouded past but because of his straight forward approach to everything. Hardest part of Frank's day is deciding which bullet to use when he kills you.

That said.. I have to admit that I kept waiting for the book to sweep me away like previous editions have done.. and it just didn't. I think maybe I've become such a Owen fan.. and I'm so curious about where that character line is going.. (That's one storyline that has some crazy climactic stuff coming at it.. from almost every angle)

I did really enjoy the book.. for my money, Correia writes some of the best action out there right now. His fight scenes are incredible.. and they come at you in rapid succession. I just couldn't really get into the Frank's story as much as I thought I would. Plus.. there seemed to be some character incongruities.. especially one in particular regarding a new greenie agent.. but I'm not going to go into it.

All in all, a very, very fun read.. well worth the money if you're any kind of an action/monster fan.. but it wasn't my favorite out of the Monster Hunter series of books. I guess that just shows how high Larry Correia has set the bar with this series.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 16, 2014

Spinning Gold From Garbage...

OK, so this past weekend I had to make a bargain with my kids for some quiet reading time. We could either go to a movie, (How to train your Dragon 2), buy Popcorn for all of us, spend roughly $100.. or we could stay in, pop our own popcorn, and order Starz on our Comcast Cable Package, (which I hate on so many levels.. but that's a different story)..

To my surprise they chose to get Starz for the next few months.. (probably because of the currently available Monster's University and the upcoming Frozen).. so we were sitting this morning, together, flipping around trying to determine what to watch when "After Earth" came up as a movie. My 11 yo boy asked about it and after explaining the plot to him they all asked to watch it.  It's PG13, but didn't seem too bad in the description, at least nothing beyond what they get in the old Tom and Jerry reruns that I grew up on too.. so we popped more popcorn, (like we need an excuse for Popcorn).. and settled down to watch it.

Spoiler Alert.. it wasn't that good.. in fact it was very, very bad.
Horrific might be a more apt description.. if I weren't already an anti-fan of Jaden Smith, this movie would have made me into one. It was bad, really bad. M Night Shyamalan has used up his alotment of good Juju and is now paying the price for selling his soul to the movie Devil.. cause everything he touches these days becomes horrible, and this was no exception.

So.. in the middle of this crap.. there was a single.. solitary.. moment of clarity.  It was when Dad of the Year Will Smith is lecturing his whiney, overacting, 'look at me.. look at me' son about how he can survive the unsurvivable Earthian terrain and he says the following.

Now.. of course it's a ripoff of about a dozen other quotes.. but it's still accurate, and here's why.
Fear really is all in our minds. 

Fear of failure
Fear of looking foolish
Fear of not being as good as others
Fear of nobody liking what I write
Heck.. sometimes even the Fear of Success can cripple us.

Yet none of them are real.. they're all based on what if's. What if I try really hard and I fail. What if people around me know I tried and failed? What if I think I'm good when I'm not. What if I tell myself that I can do this when in reality I can't. What if I've spent the past 6 years obsessing over something that will never happen?

All have destroyed my momentum at one time or another. They've started as seeds in my mind and blossomed into full fledged ideas that have stopped me in my tracks.

The trick is recognizing them for what they are and pushing past them. Fear isn't real.. it's all based on thoughts of the future. But here, today.. right now.. there isn't anything to actually fear. There is only me, and my ideas.

Anyway.. that encapsulates the entire worthwhile minute of cinema in the movie.. so in order to save you from wasting 89 minutes of your life.. here is that portion in video form.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Summer-time Writing Process.. As a Stay At Home Dad .

Given my recent experiences (2 days) with 4 kids home from school plus a toddler, I thought I would document my new summer writing regimen.

  1. Set alarm for 5am because nothing is better than writing early in the morning when the mind is fresh and alert and the house is quiet.
  2. Actually click off the light in the bedroom around 1am, lamenting that you didn't get your 'has to be done tonight' work done earlier or that you couldn't put down 'Insert Name of Latest Must Read Book' at 10:30pm like you said you would.
  3. Wake up at 2am when the stupid dog that is supposed to be the kid's responsibility sticks his cold wet nose on your elbow because he needs to go out and pee, scaring the bejeezers out of me.
  4. Think, 'I should check my email real quick before I go back to bed' and then proceed to check Email, Alternate Email, Work Email, Message Board, and Cell Phone for random tweets.
  5. Climb back into bed at 3am.
  6. Sleep-Walk to clock at 5am and turn off alarm before falling back into bed, all while apparently unconscious.
  7. Be shocked into wakefulness around 8am when no fewer than 2 sets of freezing toes are shimmied under my belly and try to go back to sleep as I am assaulted by a chorus of giggles, sharp toenails, and attempted tickles for the next 20 minutes.
  8. Finally fall out of bed, dress hurriedly, and survey the damage of 5 kids and a 1-year old Mastiff, unsupervised, for an hour.
  9. Groggily attempt to get cereal, milk, and spoons into bowls without creating an even bigger mess than what already exists, as a 3-ring circus spontaneously erupts around me.
  10. Finally set myself in front of my computer for some good solid writing time.
  11. Decide to quickly check my email again.
  12. Spend the next 2 hours surfing email, twitter, facebook, my website message board, CNN, and Reuters.
  13. Vow, again, to stop watching and reading the mainstream news because of their focus on all the evils in the world.
  14. Interestingly however, become inspired to write an Apocalyptic story about a man, his wife, 5 kids, a dog, alone on an island as the world burns down around them.
  15. Decide that I should just start getting Lunch ready for the kids instead of diving into a long writing moment that will eventually be disturbed anyway.
  16. Look in the fridge while absentmindedly asking my wife if there is anything to eat.
  17. Talk to my wife about my latest great idea for a story about the Post Apocalyptic Family that now is alone on an island and suffering from a drastic food shortage.
  18. Wait for the kids to finish eating and scrounge for food for 45 minutes before giving up and making a ham sandwich.
  19. Sit back down at my computer with renewed focus and intent.
  20. Open Word and start new document.
  21. Stare blankly at the page wondering if I should try to restart one of the numerous stories I've got about 20,000 words into but that then somehow just fell apart.. or instead start a new story about that great idea I had earlier of the Post-Apocalyptic Dad with the family that has vanished from the island.. leaving him in peace and quiet..
  22. Suddenly jerk awake and discover I've fallen asleep at my writing desk.
  23. Decide to take a short nap to recharge the creative juices that I know are percolating just under the surface.
  24. Be shaken awake by a ticked off spouse fuming over how it is now 6pm and it's time to get the kids inside and start making dinner.  
  25. Wipe the dried drool from the corner of my mouth and look around the room with eyes that feel like they're lubricated with sand and small shards of glass.
  26. Throw left over taco's, corn dogs, and the last handfull of frozen Fries into the toaster oven, set the timer for somewhere around 25(?) minutes or something and twist the knob up to max temp.
  27. Try to smooze the wife, who is still irate over my 5 hour Power Nap.
  28. Help set the table and chase the now naked 3-year old into a corner before grabbing him by the ankle and fireman carrying him into the bedroom where I dress him in shorties, and matching pajama top/bottom.
  29. Come out to discover the PJ Bottoms are already on the floor and he's running down the hallway with a giggle escaping with each footfall all the way back into the living room, as one butt cheek peeks out from his hastily pulled up super hero shorties.
  30. Yell at the kids to get to the table, give each kid an evil eye and bark at each one that so much as coughs during dinner.
  31. Send the kids off to bed at 8pm with a warning to stay in their beds and that tonight is 'NOT THE NIGHT' to press it with Dad.
  32. Around 9pm, reset the alarm at 5am.
  33. 9:10 until 10:30, chase, yell, threaten, bribe, cajole, kids to get back into bed.. before finally giving up and telling them they can watch TV IF they promise to be quiet and to go bed after this one last show.
  34. Suddenly remember that I haven't done any actual work and immediately log into website and Class to respond to questions, post new articles, and try to make it appear as if my day was productive and filled with challenging Questions that stretched my Legally Educated Mind.. all while the theme song to Sponge Bob runs through my head.
  35. Around midnight, finally let loose with a verbal assault that blisters the paint and undoubtedly scars my children for life as they obediently scamper to bed, finally.
  36. Immediately regret the use of at least 7 words that I used in my Parental tirade.
  37. Decide one last check of my email and Iphone is necessary before going to bed.
  38. Spend the next hour doing a google search for 'My Dad Was An Angry Dad' articles to see just how damaged my kids are now...
  39. Turn off computer around Midnight and go to bed.
  40. Turn off nightstand light around 1am and snuggle down to bed, dreading the cold nose and sharp toenails that haunt my nights and then suddenly....
  41. .... grab the notepad by my desk and incoherently write a barely legible, rambling sentence about a family of sharp toenailed monsters that live on a deserted island who are forced to use their cold noses to find food at the back of a giant pitch-black refrigerator.. in order to survive the coming email Apocalypse.
  42. As I drift off to sleep, realize that my life now resembles the movie Groundhog Day.
What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When you can't put down a book...

Review: Words of Radiance

Words of Radiance
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So I got the new "Words of Radiance" by Brandon Sanderson last week.. it almost lasted a week before I finished it off.

In the interests of those who haven't read it, (which is probably about 99% of the folks out there at this point, given its length), I'll avoid spoilers and just say that once again.. Sanderson has knocked one out of the park.

So much information, so many characters, so many different plots and an entirely new world, (multiple worlds really) to create.. yet he does it while still weaving an incredibly gripping tale of action, romance, humor, and fantastical (is that a word?) intrigue.

Brandon Sanderson is to Epic Fantasy what George RR Martin is to killing your darlings. ;)

Sanderson's work always has inventive magical systems, and this one is no different, although not entirely new.. he still puts his mark on it and spins it so that it's a new experience for the reader.

Sanderson is one of those authors that, when I get done reading his books, I always wish I could get a localized temporary amnesia so I could back and reread it anew again and experience the story fresh all over again. To me.. that's the epitome of what every author strives for.. that level of writing that makes the reader long to experience his stories anew over and over, and for me, Sanderson here has perfected that art.

I'll even give this much.. the first book I read it and then went back and reread just the Kaladin storyline, skipping Shallan because I found her storyline slow. In words or Radiance, Shallan has the more ambitious, interesting storyline.. surpassing both Dalinar and Kaladin. The entire book is riveting from start to finish.

Simply superb!

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Motivation...

Rise and Shine everybody.. it's Monday Morning.. that means a new week is upon us, we've been given another chance to chase our dreams!!  Knowing that.. how can you not be filled with hope and energy??

So, what is holding you back?  Nothing but your own fears and doubts... intangible distractions!
In other words.. nothing!

If these don't get you going.. check your pulse, or go start an ant farm, cause there is no excuse for not feeling like you are blessed beyond belief, and all of your dreams are just some  hard work away from happening for you!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Let the Maze Runner Hype Begin....

Great trailer for the move, which doesn't even release until September.  Gonna be hard waiting that long.. looks like a huge smash hit in the making!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

College Football Season is over...

It is time to reawaken the beast. As many of you know.. (not that there are many who even read this blog these days).. I have a semi-full time job as the Publisher of a College Football Recruiting/Fan site that is, as of right now, the main source of income for my family as we are undertaking my wife's educational pursuits..

So from the months of August until roughly Mid-February.. I'm consumed with all things College Football.. and Boise State specifically.  But now that things have slowed down, I can return to my writing.. and what better way to accomplish that than to jump into the A-to-Z challenge again.

So.. as my focus gradually shifts from totally consumed to a more moderate one that allows me to split my focus between my passions, the writer in  me will be resurrected once again.

Feels good to stretch those creative muscles once again.

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