Monday, October 31, 2011

Official Publishing Date and a Meme

I got an email from Double Dragon Publishing on Friday. It looks like my book SLIPSTREAM will be e-published in May 2012, so basically a year sooner than I expected.  I think that they make it into a Print-on-Demand file at some point...probably a month or two later but DDP's print books seem to be God Awful expensive. I don't really expect to sell any paperback books anyway which fits with the whole e-publisher thing. Now, I'm working on edits/issues with it before the May date. I've got several months so I'll probably just work on it during weekends.

I also got tagged by a meme from Charity Bradford.  So here it is:
  1. If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?  I would have eggs benedict at the Main Street Deli in Moscow, Idaho for Sunday brunch one more time. Their hollandaise sauce was sooo good. They're out of business now so I'll never get to eat there again :(.
  2. If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?  I would go back and give myself the winning lottery numbers for a huge powerball.
  3. What movie/TV character do you most resemble in personality? I think I resemble Harriet in Harriet's Law as far as personality goes. We are both allergic to bullshit.
  4. If you could push one person off a cliff and get away with it, who would you choose? Fred Phelps from the Westboro Baptist Church.
  5. Name one habit you want to change in yourself. Overeating.
  6. Why do you blog? To stay informed.
  7. Name at least three people to send this to:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Want to get paid for editing? My publisher is hiring.

In the yahoo group that my publisher runs, Deron Douglas, the CEO of Double Dragon Publishing posted this:
Hello All,
DDP is looking for new editors to help with the edit of 2012-2013 titles. If you know someone with experience and the need to make a difference, please have them contact me directly at
I figured I'd post it for anyone that may have a little time on their hands that wants to make some money on the side and find out a little about how the publishing business works. I have no idea what they pay and nothing aside from this post on what is entailed. But if I had to "guess" it would be that they email you a Word document in .rtf form...maybe chapters at a time...and you go through and edit them using the "review" options in the word processor, making notes on the side and then when those are done, shipping them off to the writer.  Then I also assume that you would be paid through Paypal which is how they seem to conduct business for the authors. So, I'm thinking you would need a Paypal account. However, please don't quote me on this because I'm just "guessing".

Also on the marketing front, I found out that a guy named John Klawitter (Find his website here) is producing a radio show for Double Dragon authors (again through our Yahoo group). It's a one-hour thing and provides exposure by featuring a short story or flash fiction read aloud over the radio with a plug for the author's book after the reading (paid for by Double Dragon).

In my opinion, it's pretty original marketing, and I was intrigued by it because of the different approach.  I'm telling you guys simply because it gives a glimpse "behind-the-scenes" on a mid-size publisher and their attempts at helping authors to market their work...kinda like the "Little Engine that Could."  I'm not complaining because I think the idea is pretty awesome and when it starts up in either January or February I'm gonna tune in to it to see how well it is done.  I mean...this is not a Big Six publisher...they don't have billions of dollars so really any marketing that they do shows an "attempt" at selling their books rather than just sitting there like a limp noodle.

Now if only I could prod them to use their twitter account...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Six questions for Briane Pagel, author of Eclipse

I finished Briane's book Eclipse some time ago, and I have to admit, it is the most cerebral read that I've found while combing the endless books written by independent authors that are begging to be read. I give it five stars out of five.

Now when I say "cerebral" I'm not saying that it is difficult to read. I'm saying that it is challenging to really know what is going on. It's like reading one of Brooke R. Busse's flash fictions that she posts on her blog. Half the time I have no idea what it is that she's writing about.  So if you buy this book, you are purchasing a puzzle. I personally have my own ideas of what is going on with the book but you'd have to look at my review on goodreads. And it is just that...ideas. Mr. Pagel has not elaborated at all as to whether I'm correct or not. Also know that the book is short...novella sized. You can read it in one sitting easy so this is not asking you to set aside weeks to plow through a book. This is something you could flip through while waiting for your turn at the doctor's office.

Mr. Pagel keeps many blogs but the one that I follow the most is Thinking the Lions. I urge you to follow him there (click on link) because he's funny, witty, and I think it's always nice to be friends with a lawyer. :)

For fans of Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks, Eraserhead, and the Tree of Life...this book is for you.

Without further adieu, I give you the man that dared to eat a Twinkie on his blog that was so rancid, I thought for sure he was going to get sick.
I do lawyer stuff and chase my boys around with a camera.
Q: If Eclipse were to be made into a movie, who would your dream director be? Myself, I would choose David Lynch as the cerebral quality of your writing seems to be spot-on with Mulholland Drive, Eraserhead, and even his film adaptation of Dune.

A:  This is hard because I don't really know directors. David Lynch's Mullholland Drive has the feel that I want for Eclipse, a kind of "what the heck just happened" feel, so he wouldn't be bad. But Tim Burton might be able to do a good job of putting a creative spin on it. The book isn't Tim Burton-esque at all, but I'd like to see what he'd do with it. I think a movie should do more than just parrot the written material; the visual and audio element to film both restrains the imagination and adds a new dimension to the work, and I think the interface where my imagination and Tim Burton's meet would be a great place to start Eclipse: The Movie. simply must be seen and you will not understand it. Reaction is everything.
Q: You indicate that Eclipse may have been a collaboration with a friend of yours who might have acted as your muse to egg you to finish this project. How exactly did this surreal story come together?

It actually was a collaboration with The Boy, my eldest son you might know from reading Thinking The Lions. He gave me the idea, which I won't repeat here because it actually spoils part of the story of Eclipse, and I ran with it, writing the first chapter to give him an idea how I'd start it. He read the first chapter and said "Make it weirder," so I did. The use of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and other hard-rock lyrics in the book was a sop to The Boy, who was going through his 70s-music-phase at that point.

Q: Upon finishing your book, what reaction do you want from your reader?

A:  "What the heck just happened here?" is the primary effect I'd like. The book has so many possible interpretations that I'd want a person to think "Okay, that's what it meant" and then later on say "But what if this" so that the storylines and imagery are constantly revisited. So far, people who have read it have almost uniformly come to me and said "So, was it real?" about one aspect or another. I love that.
What the heck just happened here is often what I ask when I watch "Eraserhead"
Q: Eclipse is really literary art. You do a lot of bold things with this book that probably made it difficult to market to agents and publishers. However, if you wanted to pitch it and could do so in only one sentence before the agent of your dreams, how would you pitch Eclipse?

A:  "Eclipse is more of a kaleidoscope than a book, but everytime you turn the kaleidoscope, you get an even more mysteriously horrifying version of an astronaut's journey from madness to murder."

Q: Having self-published, what advice do you give to those who may be looking to follow in your footsteps?

A:  I self-published because I am impatient with the "real" publishing process. I don't want to spend my time writing query letter and I don't want to have to conform my writing to what someone else expects.

I write because I enjoy writing, first and foremost, and secondly because I enjoy hearing from people about my writing, and if writing and being read is your goal, self-publishing is the way to go, because you have absolute creative control over it and never have to query yourself.

With that said, I make 98% of my money from my day job, and 1.9999% of my money from my blogs; the remainder comes from my books. My books are not money-makers. Yet. Selling books is like selling anything else; you have to work at it. If you want to make lots of money with your books, you have to either convince a publisher that you're the next John Grisham so they will put your book in giant stacks in the front of bookstores, or you have to relentlessly push your book in every forum imaginable and convince the public that you are the next John Grisham. I'm not going to quit my job and start going to Comic-con to sell my book, because then writing would just be another job instead of something that I have fun doing and can make a little money at.

But I said "yet." All success is a combination of luck and hard work, with the hard work creating more opportunities for the luck to strike. I market my books and market myself to a certain extent, and hope that I'll get lucky and the right person will read it and it'll start catching on. If it does, I'll finally buy that place in Hawaii. If it doesn't, then, well, I still got to write exactly the story I wanted to write and had fun doing it, and people occasionally review it or email me and tell me they loved it. That means a lot to me.

Q: If you were to pick one novel out there that could stand on the shelf next to Eclipse and be similar by tone and subject matter, what is the name of that novel?

A:  The Illustrated Man, By Ray Bradbury. Not a novel, but a set of short stories that I read when I was 12 and have never forgotten.

Buy Eclipse on Amazon for only .99 cents on your Kindle :)

Have a great Thursday.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Crystal Bridge by Charles M. Pulsipher

This weekend, I finished Charlie's book, along with one called Lor Mandela, and a third called Monarch by Michelle Davidson Argyle. But I'm only going to talk about one book of those three today. It is written by Charles M. Pulsipher, and you can find his blog here.

First off, I want to mention that I enjoyed reading this book. Here's the stuff that Mr. Pulsipher did right. His dialogue was definitely age-appropriate, the science he presents is an extrapolation of the cutting-edge stuff that we hear about today, the pacing is perfect and there's a lot of action, and the idea/trope that Mr. Pulsipher uses to travel between worlds that he refers to as "Kaden's egg" is amazing. I've never seen a magical or scientific device described in such way. It's really kind of neat.

If you want to read the rest of my review, you're going to have to go to Goodreads and look for yourself.  I'm going to turn the floor over to Charles who was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.  So here he is:

Q: What kind of editing did you seek out prior to publishing this book?

A:  I quit my job to finish my novel, so I wasn't swimming in money. I couldn't pay someone to edit my book, so I took advantage of free editing. I self edited the novel about five times. Then I leaned heavily on my wife's skills. She's a high school English teacher. I had my brother read it. He's the biggest reader I know. I had a few other people read through it and offer suggestions. Then I self edited again three more times. I think I caught 98% of the typos. I, of course, just made that statistic up.

Q:  How did you get the idea for Kaden's egg? More specifically...why the egg shape as opposed to any other? I'm just curious. You also might want to explain how the egg works to the readers out there or they'll be wondering why I'm asking you about some dude's egg.

A:  That does sound weird, doesn't it. No, he doesn't lay eggs like some freaky space-chicken. Kaden opens wormholes to distant worlds. He's able to see bits of these worlds before he opens the wormhole. They appear as images floating along the inner shell of a golden glowing egg surrounding him. Kaden's egg was plucked straight from the original dream that prompted the novel. I also liked the organic feel of the egg as opposed to the more mechanical process that Omegaphil uses later.

Q: Of all the worlds to visit, why did you decide to spend the majority of the time on one that had essentially elves, dwarves, and dragons?

A:  I needed a world that readers could relate to. Many of the other ones would be fun for a minute or two, but then the pure alien environment might have turned off some readers. I liked the contrast of the science and fantasy. I don't think that's done enough. I may also be obsessed with dragons. That part of James came from me.

Q:  Are you a plotter or a pantser? If you are a plotter, can you give us an idea of your story-boarding process.

A:  Both. A ploantser or ponttser...something like that. I start with a dream. I then write off the seat of my pants for a while as the dream settles and cements in my head. Then I write out an outline. I follow the outline for a while, but let tangents form when they feel right. Hollister and Penny were tangents. They didn't originally exist. I rewrite my outline several times until I finish the book.

Q: What advice do you have for those who may want to write a science-fiction novel?

A:  Research the science a lot and then use it sparingly. Most readers are going to care more about the characters than the hard science. The hard science fanatics will love the little nuggets of pure science you use. Those who don't understand the science will be able to ignore it and focus on the story. That's just my opinion though. You will find readers who want more science. I'm such a reader, but, as a writer, I know I'm the minority.

Q:  The god Rho seemed like a cross between alien and Cthulhu. What were you going for by making him this tentacled, spider-like dark mass with acid for blood?

A:  I don't like shiny black segmented spiders. I'm okay with the furry ones as long as they aren't touching me. My wife is terrified by all spiders. She points at them and makes this weird noise until I get rid of the thing. I wanted that image surrounding Rho. I wanted readers disgusted, terrified, and darkly intrigued, pointing at it, unable to look away, but wanting it gone every second. Rho's blood isn't really acidic. It tears down and absorbs anything it touches. The explanation as to why is implied in the last few pages of the novel. I won't give that away.

Q:  Who is your favorite character? For the record, poor Evandrel.

A:  I've had several people say Evandrel was their favorite. I have a hard time choosing a favorite. All the characters are like my little brain-children. I love Evandrel, Kaden, Aren, James, and Dveldor. I must admit I even like Rho, Vander, and Diresh. That said, I may be a bit partial to Penny. She was a pleasant surprise that just popped into existence as I wrote about James' strange experiences with the malfunctioning chip. She'll also have a large role in the next book.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Diablo III - Blackstone Cinematic!

As Deckard Cain's niece, Leah, struggles to make sense of her uncle's mysterious and disturbing notations, she bears witness to a dark vision. Azmodan, Lord of Sin, towers over the fragile young woman, swearing his armies of the burning Hells shall pour forth into Sanctuary, ravishing the world and all hope of resistance.

This cinematic game footage offers but a glimpse into the gritty, evolving story of Diablo II. Please take the time to watch it. The trailer is thrilling.
I sampled some of this game when I attended Blizzcon 2009 (Yes, I am that much of a geek but in my defense...some of my guildies attended too--I was really into World of Warcraft).  The character class  that I played in the few minutes that I was allowed to sit at the computer was the Monk, and man...I could lay waste to hundreds of demons in just a short time span.

All I can say is three words... "COMBAT. MAGIC ITEMS." Is there really anything else a person could want? I'm so excited for this game that when it gets released, you may not hear from me for a week unless you log onto Battlenet and play with me. Maybe I'll do a Diablo III give-a-way so one person who comments can join me in purging the world of the newest Prime Evil!

Diablo was groundbreaking when it was released.  I played Diablo II for months--again--because it was groundbreaking.

I expect Blizzard will once again snatch the coveted "Game of the Year".

Matthew MacNish...Steph Schmidt...I'm calling you two out! I know you play video games. Don't make me face the demon hordes without you.

Happy Monday... /demon giggle

Friday, October 21, 2011

In a zombie apocalypse, I would want to live here

Just in time for The Walking Dead, the Zombie Apocalypse, and Halloween.

I assume it's affordable for any billionaire.
Don't The Walking Dead on Sundays so that we can "squee" about it.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


When what we know doesn't suffice...
And when we feel like we don't fit in...
And then we see someone so cool that we want to be around them all the time...
We think...will they like me? Can I finally end this loneliness and have a real friend?
And we fear rejection...
But if we never take a chance, how can we ever know what love feels like?
I have news for you my friends...but it isn't this...
It is this...

  • A good story teaches.
  • A good story entertains.
  • A good story takes you back to a time when your eyes brim with wonder.
  • Take my hand.
  • Click play and come fly with me on the back of a dragon.

I'm so excited for this sequel.

That is all. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why I Can't Wait For Michonne

This mysterious black woman on the above cover is Michonne (pronounced ME-SHAWN). Her weapon is a katana and she's an expert at using it. This is her grand entrance which doesn't show her wearing a hood.  All badass people wear hoods. She shows up with two shackled zombies that she pulls along with a chain, one of whom is her former boyfriend and the other was his best friend. She cut off their arms and lower jaws to make them docile and unable to harm her.

Frank Darabont has confirmed that Michonne will be in the series but perhaps not until season 3.  Stephen King has also been signed to write one episode.

I leave you with more shots of Michonne who is arguably going to be the most badass character in any television series presently showing on any network.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What If I Fail At Being Published?

In the event that any of us (god forbid) fails in the pursuit of a dream which consists mostly of money and very little of actually writing anything memorable, you may find yourself at a crossroads wherein you decide that kidnapping someone and holding them for ransom may provide a more sound financial future (if not for yourself then for your loved ones). This shouldn't be taken lightly because a properly constructed ransom note is as hard as a query letter.  You will need the following elements:
  1. Don’t be lazy and use the internet. Look, I know you can go on the web and use different programs that turn your text into a ransom note. That’s kid stuff. If you’re doing the crime, do the extra work and make the note yourself. Handmade. Just think of it as a more grown-up arts and crafts project.
  2. Spell check, spell check, spell check Do you want to come across as a criminal mastermind, or some barely literate immigrant? The choice is yours. You don’t want the five-oh laughing at your poor punctuation and the fact that you threatening people by threatening to "kil" them.
  3. No codes, ciphers, rebuses, etc. You want your ransom note to have a clear and effective message; mainly, that you have a member of someone’s family hostage and want money immediately or else. If you’re trying to be cute and send someone a note covered in bizarre glyphs which take months to decode, you’re never gonna collect on your investment, and then you’ve got some problems on your hands.
  4. Tailor your ransom note to the victim. If it’s a foreign diplomat, use pieces of their nation’s flag as the letters. Or, let’s hypothetically say that you happen to have in your possession one of a certain celebrity couple’s adopted babies. You could use the People Magazine covers they adorned to make the words as well.
  5. Wear gloves Don’t be an idiot and put your fingerprints all over your work. If you get busted because your thumb print got matched on the letters you cut out, you deserve what you get in prison. Be careful; burn whatever you use to make the note, and pick a pretty common variety of paper upon which to glue your letters. Contrary to what popular television shows would like you to believe, it takes some pretty obvious mistakes in order to get caught.
  6. No body parts on the first note It comes off as too desperate, or worse – like you’re bluffing. Nobody wants to deal with some crazy blood-hungry beast that’s into mailing people toes. Plus, it’s almost impossible to ship body parts through the mail. This means hand delivering the letter, which means a greater chance of being caught. It’s too stupid a risk. You’re better off with using second ransom letters as a chance to show off your photography skills by attaching Polaroid pictures of your kidnapee in various states of duress.
I hope this helps. Happy Tuesday. XOXO

Monday, October 17, 2011


Today is my Monster Fest post for fabulous blogger/writer Sommer Leigh who runs one of the most professional websites that I frequently visit.  If you've never been to "Tell Great Stories" I truly urge you to do so. Sommer's posts are always cerebral and examine the world of writing and publishing from unusual and fresh perspectives.
[T]he nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh was built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults...In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.

—H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"
Artist rendering of the City of R'Lyeh where Cthulhu is said to dream.

Here is how Lovecraft describes Cthulhu...

"The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for close and careful study, was between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisitely artistic workmanship. It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of the wings touched the back edge of the block, the seat occupied the centre, whilst the long, curved claws of the doubled-up, crouching hind legs gripped the front edge and extended a quarter of the way clown toward the bottom of the pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so that the ends of the facial feelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws which clasped the croucher's elevated knees. The aspect of the whole was abnormally life-like, and the more subtly fearful because its source was so totally unknown. Its vast, awesome, and incalculable age was unmistakable; yet not one link did it shew with any known type of art belonging to civilisation's youth - or indeed to any other time. Totally separate and apart, its very material was a mystery; for the soapy, greenish-black stone with its golden or iridescent flecks and striations resembled nothing familiar to geology or mineralogy. The characters along the base were equally baffling; and no member present, despite a representation of half the world's expert learning in this field, could form the least notion of even their remotest linguistic kinship. They, like the subject and material, belonged to something horribly remote and distinct from mankind as we know it. something frightfully suggestive of old and unhallowed cycles of life in which our world and our conceptions have no part."


R'lyeh is characterized by bizarre architecture likened to non-Euclidean geometry. Norwegian sailor Gustaf Johansen, the narrator of one of the tales in the short story, describes the accidental discovery of the city: "a coast-line of mingled mud, ooze, and weedy Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less the tangible substance of earth's supreme terror — the nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh...loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours". The short story also asserts the premise that while currently trapped in R'lyeh, Cthulhu will eventually return, with worshipers often repeating the phrase Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn: "In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming".

Lovecraft claims R'lyeh is located at 47°9′S 126°43′W in the southern Pacific Ocean. Writer August Derleth, a contemporary correspondent of Lovecraft and co-creator of the Cthulhu Mythos, placed R'lyeh at 49°51′S 128°34′W.[2] The latter coordinates place the city approximately 5,100 nautical miles (9,400 km) from the actual island of Pohnpei (Ponape), the location of the fictional "Ponape Scripture". Both locations are close to the Pacific pole of inaccessibility (48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W), a point in the ocean farthest from any land mass.  The city is said to rise from the deep on its own for one day every 1000 years.


Cthulhu is set in that same time period that we find King Kong. It's the 1920's...there's much of the world that is still unknown.  Pervading all of this are Lovecraft's short stories that hint of ancient civilizations hidden by the waves kinda like that huge wall in Peter Jackson's film and the ruins all over that island.  You have steam-powered schooners, flappers, old-style cars, detectives that look like Humphrey Bogart's character in Casablanca... and people smoking cigarettes everywhere because it's "glamorous".
The Setting for King Kong 2005 is very Cthulhu-esque. I think Peter Jackson could
make an outstanding Call of Cthulhu movie because it would have many of the
same elements as seen in this film with the giant monsters, the mysterious island
and the ruins of an ancient city emerged from the bowels of the ocean and surrounded
by a blanket of thick fog.
I'm not the biggest fan of Lovecraft's actual writing. I'm thankful that the stories are short. He's heavy-handed with his vocabulary and the stories tend to read much like a diary would so they are very dry. I think I would prefer being immersed into the story than have it be told to me in passive first person, past tense. And I don't like the way his stories end. It's like he takes you up to the point where there could clearly be more and then just cops out and says that the narrator went insane and thus, there's no more that's written.  However, his world-building is impressive. Boys in particular seem to be drawn to tales of dark and evil things as long as very little is known about them.  Something about this "unknown and mysterious element" appeals to their imaginations, and I think, is the reason why this kind of mythos continues to endure. Every boy at some point discovers Cthulhu...becomes intrigued by the weird sounding name, wants to know more and discovers that there is in fact, very little known about it outside of roleplaying games.
Buy the book that critics say
is “a mind-blowing sci-fi read from
start to end.” $4.99 from Amazon
now. Begin your journey today.

My own writing has "Cthulhu mythos" inspired creatures and has been described by some reviewers as a "dark fantasy populated by terrifying monsters." Please give it a try if you like glass spiders, hockey sticks, and monsters from the id (subconscious). In "Slipstream", a dark god lays dreaming...

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Pay It Forward Blog Hop

First off, the winner of the signed copy of Monarch by amazing author Michelle Davidson Argyle is Jen Burke from Jen's Bookshelf!  I shall contact you a.s.a.p. to get your shipping details. In the event that she declines the book I shall choose another winner.

Today I'm participating in the "Pay It Forward" blog hop organized by super bloggers Alex J. Cavanaugh and Matthew MacNish.

Here are the rules:
  1. List, describe, and link to three blogs that you enjoy reading.
  2. Visit and follow blogs that you see people pointing to that are on the blog list.
  3. Visit all of them if you can, but if you can't then that's okay too.
And that's it.

Here are my three blogs that I enjoy reading:
  1. The Grumpy Bulldog Blog by Rogue Mutt. Mutt's blog approaches writing with brutal honesty.
  2. The Non-Sequitur Ramblings of a Steph Schmidt. Steph's blog is full of squishy non-sequiturs that include tales of school, nerd love, and giraffe earrings of good luck ju-ju.
  3. Thinking The Lions by Briane Pagel. Mr. Pagel's blog has a lot to do with his autistic children, named Mr. F and Mr. Bunches as well as experiments in devouring  nasty Twinkies. He can ramble on and on and knows little of the word brevity, but I suppose that has to do with his lawyer-ness. Perhaps he will learn someday that it is not quantity of words that count but quality ;).
Please visit and follow all three. I shall include the blog hop code for you if you wish to join along (oh and have a great weekend):

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The coolest staircase in the world

Look at what a group of clever engineers did to get people to change their behavior and choose to take the stairs instead of automatically heading for the escalator.
It's a great lesson in approaching a problem (such as obesity and lack of physical activity) from a new direction.

Tomorrow, I'm doing the Pay It Forward blogfest that's being run by Matthew MacNish and Alex J. Cavanaugh. You still have time to join and it should be fun!

Also in the blogging sphere, I'd like to let people know that Rogue Mutt (a.k.a. Patrick Dilloway) has moved his blog address. It is now located here. If you don't read his blog, I think of course that you should because the discourse about all things writing can be refreshingly bold. Sometimes the comments are even more fun than the blog post. Have a wonderful "Thor's Day" my friends :).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How do you define success? An answer from author Theresa Milstein

Please give a warm welcome to Theresa Milstein whose short story "Allured" is included in the YA Anthology called Fangtales.  You can find Theresa at her blog located here. I for one am so thankful that I met Theresa through blogging. She is an accomplished, intelligent, and spiritual woman. I would encourage you to get to know her as well through correspondence and through her writing. In reading her guest post on my blog today, I was reminded of his holiness, the Dalai Lama and a very spiritual story.

On October 1st, I attended a program for writers, illustrators, and educators.  It was called Overcoming Challenges.  Authors Jacqueline Davies, Kathryn Lasky, and Lois Lowry were in attendance.  Illustrator Bill Thompson was also on the panel.  All four of them have received awards.  Jacqueline Davies won a Massachusetts Book Award Honor.  Kathryn Lasky won a Newbery Honor.  Lois Lowry won two Newbery Medals.  Bill Thompson won awards and was up for a Caldecott. 

When they were asked, “How do you define success?” I listened. 

Not too long ago, I wondered how I’d define success.  I wrote a post about it called “Making It”
Author Theresa Milstein on the left and author Jacqueline Davies on the right.

Jacqueline Davies answered this in three bullet points:

1)     Write what she wanted to write
2)     Have a lot of readers
3)     Earn a living as a writer

She’s recently accomplished her three goals.

Kathryn Lasky said she feels successful because, “Everyday I get up and re-invent the world.”

Lois Lowry said she feels the word is subjective, like trying to obtain perfection.  “Satisfaction is more important.” 
Theresa Milstein and Lois Lowry
Bill Thompson had the most poignant answer.  He thought winning a Caldecott Medal would be his measure of success.  When his book was being considered, he thought he’d reach his goal.

He’s also a teacher.

A student stood up in his classroom.  She collapsed.  Face-forward onto concrete.  He checked her.  She was breathing, so he didn’t start CPR.  He didn’t want to move her in case she’d injured her spine.  He had someone call for help.  Then she stopped breathing.  He performed CPR until the ambulance arrived. 

Bill visited her in the hospital.  She was in a coma.  She had a husband of six months.  He prayed that he didn’t care about the award.  He’d rather have her live. 

Eventually she woke up.

He didn’t receive the award.

He’s learned not to focus on worldly praise.  He loves that he can do what he loves to do.

He’s still a teacher.  If someone called him in the middle of the night and asked him what he is, he’d say, “Illustrator.” 

All of the writers who haven’t been published, what would they say if they received that call in the middle of the night?

I’ve had two short stories published.  I clearly don’t make my living as a writer.  My time is divided between so many different jobs: mother, instructional aide, wannabe teacher, student, and writer.  What would I say?  Would I feel like a fraud to respond, “I’m a writer,” because I don’t make my living from it?

I think about my stories almost all the time.
I will still write when my children grow up.
I’ll still be typing tales when I retire from teaching.
Am I defined by a paycheck or a role or a passion?

When that call comes, I hope I’m brave enough to answer, “Writer.”


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Hobknob With Famous People. Don't Be Jealous. Okay, be a little jealous but win a book.

Last night I attended an author reading at a swanky local art gallery.  At the reader's table were none other than Michelle Davidson Argyle, Jessica McQuinn, Melissa Menatti, and Dorothy J. Varney. In the audience was Natalie Whipple who has a book coming out from Harper. She wore butterfly wings on her back. Meeting professional authors is really intimidating. Of course, I'm not really much of a people person, and I can't really explain why it is intimidating. It just is. Maybe meeting people is just intimidating for me. That sounds more like it.

Anyway, above is the picture of the bookstore next to the art gallery where I purchased four books that I got signed after the reading. It's right around the corner from where I live so I kinda felt obligated to go to this. I would have felt ashamed of myself if I didn't go to a reading that took place in my backyard, especially when these ladies came from...well I don't know where they came from. But they had to burn fossil fuels to get here so in the least I wanted to go.
This is a picture of Michelle Argyle and Natalie Whipple. Michelle put me on the spot and said, "Do you know Natalie? Of course you do, right?" I stared at Natalie with a blank expression.  Honestly...I really wanted to know who Natalie was, but I actually had no idea who she was. However, that was okay. Natalie let me off the hook because her book isn't out quite yet but will be soon. It's from Harper and is going to be called Transparent if I remember correctly.  I think it has invisible people in it.  I complimented Michelle about her article on Sarah LaPolla's website. I kinda fell in with all of these Curtis Brown Literary Agent luminaries. Here's the rundown:

Nathan Bransford once worked for Curtis Brown.
Michelle Argyle won a contest on Nathan's blog.
Natalie Whipple is a writer represented by Curtis Brown.
Michelle Argyle wrote an article for Sarah LaPolla who works for Curtis Brown.

It reminds me of Malcolm's speech in Jurassic Park.

God creates dinosaurs.
God destroys dinosaurs.
God creates man.
Man destroys God.
Man creates dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs eat man.
Woman inherits the earth.

The reading was really good although the acoustics in the gallery had a few echoes and there were babies crying because I live in Utah and every woman has multiple babies. All of the readings were impressive but I especially liked the poetry from Melissa Menatti. It reminded me of Maya Angelou in its depth and originality. I bought Melissa's unique unbound book (that is part of the art in not having it bound). One cannot support poetry enough. Sometimes I fear that poetry may disappear. No one reads it anymore (except for me). Michelle was very comfortable reading. But she should be because of all the training she got being on America's Next Top Model with Tyra Banks. I think she co-wrote Modelland. #Idonthavethefactstobackthisup.

I really came because I like Michelle's book "Monarch" which I've been reading simultaneously with Charles M. Pulsipher's book "Crystal Bridge" and another book "Lor Mandela" and then a fourth by Alex Cavanaugh and a fifth by Joseph Vasicek.  That is my process...moving from book to book to give my brain a break. I usually finish three at roughly the same time.  Like I finished "Sign In Blood" and "Switched" at roughly the same time.
This is a picture of the art gallery. It was really white. White couches, white walls, and white art pieces in some places.  I have no idea why everything is white but that's Utah. Even the people are all white here so I guess maybe the furniture makes them more comfortable. That's Natalie Whipple's back with the monarch wings on. I think Michelle and Natalie must be friends (they seemed chummy).

Anyway. I already own a copy of Michelle's book Monarch on my Nook. It's good. It's a thriller. It's not filled with the first person present tense girly perspective but instead has a tough as nails CIA dude that any straight guy can man crush on or any girl swoon to (Michelle can write men).  There's blood, there's bullets, and there's outdoors "climbing trees" "running" "jumping" stuff that men and women can get into alike.  It has black and white butterflies on the pages separating scene breaks--how f'ing cool is that?

So why am I telling you about this?  Well, I want one of you lucky peeps to have an autographed pristine copy that has never been read.  So, if you comment on this post, you are in the drawing. At the end of the week, I'll a name and send the book off to you.  This is my first contest and it is international so no worries there. So if you want a book, leave a comment.

That is all.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Let me introduce you to author Joseph Vasicek

For Columbus Day, author Joseph Vasicek (find his blog here) gracefully accepted an invitation for a guest post. He's a talented young writer and he's here to talk about a very special creative writing class that he took while attending Brigham Young University.
For this guest post, Michael wanted me to share a little bit about Brandon Sanderson's writing class at BYU and what kind of a teacher he is.  In case you didn't know, Brandon teaches a class (English 318R) at BYU every winter, which is usually packed so full that there's barely enough floor space to fit everyone in.  I was fortunate to be a part of that class in 2008 and 2009, and Brandon became something of a mentor to me as I decided I wanted to pursue a career as a writer.

One of the first things that struck me about Brandon is that he's a down-to-earth nice guy.  It's easy to think of big name authors as these godlike beings, and to put them on a pedestal so high that they’re almost inaccessible.  That’s not true of Brandon; he’s one of the most easy-going and approachable people I know.  If you’ve ever met him at a signing or a convention, you probably know what I’m talking about.

It’s not just his personality, though.  Probably the most important lesson he ever taught me was to think of readers as patrons, not just consumers.  In this day and age, it’s possible to read just about any book for free.  The people who buy your books aren’t just buying a product; they’re choosing to support you as an artist because they enjoy your work.  If you can keep that in mind, you can grow a base of loyal fans because you’ll always value them--and that’s exactly what he’s done.

Brandon excels at being good not just to his fans, but to his students as well.  Even though it was difficult, he did his best to give all of us one-on-one advice, both inside and outside of class.  He never pulled any punches, either--I remember getting roasted for some of the flaws in the earlier drafts of my novels--but his criticism was always constructive, because he taught us that if we put in our time, any of us could make a living as a writer.

Very cool artwork
That was the main focus of the class, and that’s what I took the most from it.  It’s largely because of his influence and encouragement that I decided to pursue writing as a full-time career.  The two novels I have up right now as indie published ebooks, Genesis Earth and Bringing Stella Home, were both written while I was in his class, and the best compliment I received from him was when he signed my copy of Elantris: “For Joe--who is HARDCORE!  Keep writing!”

I’ve definitely kept writing since then, and now that ebooks have opened a lot of new doors for writers, I’ve gotten involved with publishing as well.  My latest release, Bringing Stella Home, is a science fiction novel about a young interstellar merchanter’s son, James McCoy, whose homeworld has been conquered by a horde of brutal starfaring warriors.  He’s determined to rescue his brother and sister, but what he doesn’t know is that his sister has become a concubine to his homeworld’s new overlord, and his brother has been brainwashed and made an elite shock trooper in the barbarian army. 

The cover on this reminds me
of some Anime comics which
is very cool :))
To kick things off, I’m giving out a free copy this next week of a novella based on the full length novel: it’s titled Sholpan, and it follows Stella McCoy’s storyline through the first half of the novel as she navigates the dangerous world of harem politics while trying to escape.  You can download it by visiting the ebook’s Smashwords page, selecting your preferred format, and inputting the following coupon code: VH77F (not caps sensitive). 

You can find me at my writing blog, One Thousand and One Parsecs, or follow me on Twitter (@onelowerlight).  I’m kind of like Michael in that I pretty much blog about anything, but since my main focus is on writing, I usually end up coming back to that.  I also review books and feature other writers as guest bloggers from time to time.