Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to be a Name Dropping Cad

I went to the UVU Book Academy writers conference last Thursday. And I will tell you just a little bit about it. We, my friend Frank Holdaway (winner of the 2009 mystery/suspense category at LDStorymakers) and I parked some quarter mile away from the venue the Sorenson building and began the hike. Along the way, a woman accosted us, she said I looked familiar, (good I am working on my brand) that's because I won the general fiction category at the 2009 LDStorymakers conference. And I thought she looked familiar, I thought she looked like Stephanie Black but younger, Rob Wells had permanently skewed my perception of her age. She, Stephanie Black (Methods of Madness, the Believer) was a little lost but we guided her toward the venue all the while discussing her presentation on villains. Reaching the front doors Heather Moore waved us in, because Frank and Stephanie were still somewhat mixed up on directions.

Once inside and getting our paraphernalia, Karlene Browning (Rose Haven publications and of Provident Book fame) said hello. Glad you're feeling a little better. I kept wondering if Daron Fraley (Thorn the Chronicles of Gan) was going to be there, and too bad Mary Gray (The Ethos) and Tamara Hart Heiner (Branca) couldn't make it. Did Karen Jones Gowen (Uncut Diamonds) make it? I didn't think so.

Frank and I found a seat close to the front for keynote speaker Brandon Sanderson (Warbreaker, Mistborn) he discussed 10 things he had to learn before he got published. Afterwards I approached him and gave him an ARC of my book Heroes of the Fallen. He said he would read it for a back cover quote but that it would take six months. Ok, I'll use it for book 2 Blood Of Our Fathers. Going from there I wasn't 100% on which presentation I wanted to go to next so I went to Heather Moore's (Alma, Abinadi) once there we were joined by Heather Justesen(The Balls in Her Court) and had an interesting time discussing different aspects of writing and marketing.

There was then a book signing break-but I didn't bother. I then went to Kelly Smurthwaites presentation on marketing tips. Said hi to Karen Hoover (The Sapphire Flute). Then it was time for lunch. Procuring the sandwiches I noticed across the table from me Ali Cross and Elana Johnson but I didn't want to interrupt their sandwich making. After lunch was the publishers panel, which I still don't know why there wasn't some people I know present at. I am having a hard time at not mocking some peoples ridiculous questions, like asking these relatively small publishers how to get an agent??? So I am gonna leave off on that. Once done, I spoke with Chris Bigelow (Zarahemla Books, Kindred Spirits) and we talked about how my book I first submitted him was now being published by WiDO and I was curious if he had done any more work on his speculative apocalyptic novel Master Mahan's Revenge. Nope he hadn't.

Up to Robison Well's (Counterfeit, On Second Thought) presentation on Humor in writing. I sat next to his brother Dan Well's (I Am not A Serial Killer) and once the presentation was over I sat and talked with them for perhaps 10 minutes about their books and mine. I was pleased that Dan thought Heroes sounded like Bernard Cornwell (The Saxon Tales) because those are awesome. There was another book signing but I didn't have any of my wife's Anita Stansfields to get signed for her so I left it at that. Frank had James Dashner to sign one of his 13th Reality books.

The final speaker was Maria Covey Cole and I admit that I was saying why don't we bail out of here early but Frank noticed Stephen R. Covey (7 Habits) and said we ought to stick around. There was a raffle for books but we didn't win any. Maria spoke and then her father Stephen got up and spoke it was pretty interesting but then I have never heard him speak before - I'm probably some kind of Utah pariah because of that. When it was all done I went to leave but said bye to Nichole Giles (Sharp Edge of the Knife) and then Tristi Pinkston (Agent in Old Lace) approached me and said she had heard good stuff about my writing from Heather Moore that was surprising, its nice to hear compliments from unexpected sources.

So that was the conference in a nutshell and that's how you name drop like a Cad.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Maybe It Wasn't Davy Jones

June 2002

Sitting around my parents house on a lazy Sunday afternoon, we were talking about my brother John's graduation the day before. I was looking at his yearbook and mentioned how pictures can fool you. Everyone looks their best in these fuzzy glamour shots. We laughed about how stupid intelligent people could be.

John was telling stories about the people in his class. He told us about pulling a trick on a girl that sat in front of him. Whenever she left her seat he would take her chair and pass it down the row behind him. She would come back and it would be nowhere in sight. It was all friendly enough though-she invited him to her big after graduation BBQ.

He stayed for quite awhile and then when he was getting ready to leave, her father, holding a spatula told him, "when those other parties suck, this is the one you're gonna come back too".

The next day is when John told me about it. Reminiscing over the yearbook, John said, "I guess her dad was one of the Monkee's."
"What?" Which one?" asked my sister Natalie very interested.
"I don't know, I'm not a fan of the Monkee's."
"Was he short?"
"Was it Davy Jones?" I interjected.
"I don't know. I don't know who Davy Jones is."
"Was it Peter Tork?"
"Did he play guitar?"
"No, he had a spatula," responded John.
"Was he wearing a hat, was it Michael Nesmith?" I prodded.
"No, he was not wearing a hat, he had grey hair."
"Did he have blonde hair?"
Breathing in slowly in frustration at our game, John responded, "NO, he had grey hair."
I asked, "Have you ever seen the Monkee's TV show?"
"But this guy was one of the Monkee's?"
"Yeah, that's what I heard."
"Well then, do you think they will have another BBQ today?"
"I don't know why do you care?"
"Cause its one of the Monkee's," answered Natalie.
"One of my other friends dad's is having a BBQ," said John.

"Is he a Monkee?"
"Well do you think the Monkee will come to this other BBQ?" I rib.
John remains silent in irritation.
"Come on, think about it," Natalie prods, "Was it Mickey or Mike, Peter or Davy? What was his name? Was he shorter?"
"Was it Davy Jones?" I question with a tilt and a nodJohn retorts, "I don't know. maybe it wasn't Davy Jones, I just heard he was a Monkee."
Natalie shakes her head, "No way it was Davy Jones."
"If we threw a BBQ, do you think we could get the Monkee to come?" I asked.
"I don't know!"
"Well lets call your friend."

Natalie called but nobody was home. I guess the mystery of the Monkee and the BBQ will have to sit a little longer.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cumorah: Poetry Saturday


The mountains womb is gold, the valley's skin is blood.
A dark spirit whispert, bringing the ax and flood,
sending the wicked and righteous back to the mud.

Satan's on his throne, Record is in the ground.
I light the funeral pyres, until it's time be found,
forgotten but by the worms deep in the mound.

I was in the ruin, I was in the shield wall,
I was there to see father Mormon fall,
but none beside could catch him ere deaths call.

Let come the maelstrom, let come the rain,
wash away the memory o' this place once again.
This time perhaps not at all in vain.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Books And Stories Read This WeeK

Uncut Diamonds, by Karen Jones Gowen
This book was something out of my usual realm. I just don't read women's books in general because they say nothing to me about my life-but then maybe they really do. Much has been said on the web thus far about the time-frame the novel is set in, this means nothing. It doesn't matter because it has that universal feel for anyone living in America in the post World War 2 era. Whether its the 70's, 90's or today its easy enough to see how people can relate to the things mentioned inside, marriage struggles, money problems and family reuniting through hardship. So to me the time frame is just that, a frame-the human condition is the reality. I think what made me really take stock of the book (which did start a little slow for my taste) was the hammer making me think about things from my wife's perspective, as a writer its good to be well-rounded in my chosen medium-to go beyond my own preferred genre's and help myself to not be stiff-necked. Uncut Diamonds helped me think about these things whereas some other women writers couldn't let me see that. I did like the journal entries of the main characters grandmother that took place during the dust bowl and that will therefore make me want to seek out Karen's other book Farm Girl for the sake of continuing reading in her element.

Blackberry Witch, by Scott M. Roberts
Weird modern day magic story about a witch who dreams (and plots) of getting back the husband she lost and having a normal? son. She uses a new type of necromancy (new to me) of utilizing her mothers blood magic from a blackberry bush (her mother is blood magic within the bush) to gain power and steal the son of an opposing wizard. All in all it was a very new take on urban magic which I don't normally like per-se, but the mood Roberts sets kept me reading. In the finale I was especially intrigued with the process by which the opposing wizard sets things to rights-foot to foot-knee to knee-arm to arm-etc etc-some of you will know what I am talking about.

Dubliners, by James Joyce
I got this quite awhile ago and started reading it and made it through perhaps 3 or 4stories and quit. I just didn't care, I had no desire to spend my life studying Joyce's so I could understand the nuances of his turn of the century Irish life of which Dubliners is about. On account of a recent post at AMV about how writers should stop trying to ape The Dead, the last story in Dubliners, particularly the last paragraph I decided I would give it another go. While I would fully admit that Joyce has a great way with prose, I couldn't have cared less about any of the characters in general. Th. mentioned in the comments section in my post about 5 influencing novels that he didn't know what the Iliad had to say to us in our day and I almost feel the same way about Joyce. Yet I will admit that he does have something to say if you can get to it and it speaks to you as the Iliad does to me. I suppose its all just a matter of taste and what speaks to you. Though themes of all of these books are running together.

Betrayer of Trees, by Eric James Stone
Pretty good short story by local author Eric James Stone. I kept wanting it to go on a little longer and give me a little more background on this fantasy world of a exiled stone carver/tree-mage, tree magic and a nomadic warlord conqueror akin to Genghis Khan. I liked the twist at the end. Stone leaves a number of things in the tale open-ended for the reader to place in themselves and that was fine with me. While I am not a huge sci-fi fan, Stone's work on this tale will have me seeking out some of his other usual genre.

The Afghan Campaign, by Steven Pressfield
This was great, Pressfield is a master in the historical realm. Again in a similar
vein to Uncut Diamonds he has tapped into that feeling of timelessness-it doesn't matter that this tale was taking place 2,300 years ago, it could almost be something told by our guys on the ground in Afghanistan today. The humanity of Alexanders soldiers and ours is the same, tying things again back to my own book Heroes of the Fallen I just don't believe people are that different, we have different cultures and technology but the human dream is the same. We have the same fears, the same honor, the same vices, the same goodness as we have ever had and Pressfield has never disappointed in his well written portrayal of such. The Afghan Campaign follows the little brother of older vets from Alexanders army, Sidon, Tyre, Egypt and Persia have already fallen-Afghanistan lies between Alexander and India and thus conquering of the whole world. As much as I like heroics, this book is not driven by hyperbolic heroics beyond what you would expect from any normal person man or woman-some of the best characters in the novel are women. So I guess this weeks books were all about the human condition and I would say they all carried it off very well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Renewing My Covenants or a Contest

After being chided for my sensitivity yesterday by a former SWAT/Danite team-mate, I must hereby repent and redeem myself. These are among my favorite manly movie quotes.

What is best in life?
To crush your enemies and see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of the women.

At my signal unleash hell.

Come and take them.

What kind of farmer are you?
I'm a lead-farmer %&$*!-&*!%$#.

Do you expect me to talk?
No, Mr. Bond I expect you to die.

I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

Know this Tartar woman, I take you for wife.

You shall not pass!

You have offended my family and you have offended the Shaolin temple.

We keep you alive to serve this ship. Row well and live.

Ok . . . first person to comment and tell me all the titles of these movies will win an autographed copy of my book-and I give that it may be a hard sell to get them all so then it will go to whomever gets the most right first, I'll leave it open a week or so.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Into The Arena

A part of me feels like I have thrown myself to the lions. I have forwarded Advanced Review Copies to about 10 people in hopes of getting some good back cover quotes or blurbs.
I say lions not because any of these people are snarky or mean in the slightest but because of my own writer insecurities-I'm feelin all bi-polar bear about it. On the one hand I honestly think I have written the best book in its genre ever period. And on the other hand I worry that no one is going to like it, that it's too weird, too violent, too different from what people expect and then swinging back around the other way that's exactly what I wanted to do isn't it? Yes of course it is. The book of frakkin Ace!

Earlier this year, I submitted a first chapter to a contest for the LDStorymakers contest. Dance the Ghost with Me a weird western starring Porter Rockwell and mysterious Indians from a far off land-lots of spirits whispering in his ear and also a cursed ancient tomb. I had the butterfly's then too. I was guessing that either I would win or I would be shot down hardcore. All the entries were to be judged by panels and critiqued so I knew I would have a number of people looking the yarn over and I wondered if they would universally pan it.

During lunch at the conference as they were preparing to announce the winners, they halted to do a skit mocking a last minute entry as if it was done by a certain vampire inducing writer. Lots of people laughed at the skit but I couldn't stand it, I wanted to know if I had won or lost, not laugh about the poor writing skills of a ridiculously popular author.

Finally they were done. And I won First Prize for general fiction-seems all the judges really liked my yarn about Porter except one and the strength of the others was enough to overpower them and give me the prize and more importantly the validation I wanted. I no longer worried if people would like my yarns-until today. Like I said bi-polar bear. I maybe ought to pull out that critique from months ago and refresh my brain that people like my yarns-there was some worthwhile encouragement in there, such as "with stuff like this you will be a published author".

That was nice to hear and of course not even a week later I got a phone call from WiDo publishing offering me not one, but two contracts for my submissions-Heroes of the Fallen and Blood of Our Fathers. So obviously they liked my stuff too. How many other writers out there get these bi-polar feelings about submitting? Heck I'm not even submitting to a publisher anymore-I'm asking other writers and professors what they think of my work, it's already been accepted it's just more of that weakness, that ridiculous sensitivity to my yarns. For me facing lions in the arena would be a much easier task.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

On sheer principal I don't want to shill for Disney, but this movie is awesome. I first saw it in theaters when I was 5. And no I did not see the initial release,
back in the days before DVR's and even that most venerated of technological dinosaurs the VCR to see older movies again the theaters would re-release them again and again. I thought I was pretty cool seeing Star Wars 4 times.

I specifically remember going to see "Wizards" the bizarre Ralph Bakshi post-apocalyptic fantasy and "Darby O'Gill" in red satin covered theaters that smelt of burnt popcorn, the kind of place where your shoes made a tearing sound with every step because of how many other kids had spilled their pop. Pop is a regional dialect I think, that's what we said in Montana, my wife says Soda and that always sounds wrong to me like it's too formal or something I mean really who says Soda???

What I'm saying is Wizards and Darby O'Gill shaped some of my perceptions of fantasy as a kid. I saw them before I saw the Hobbit which in part may be why I thought it was so awesome, it took everything several levels higher. But I am gonna credit Darby O'Gill as one of my first steps for loving fantasy. Compelling characters that delight in fooling one another, believable villains which are a must in anything I consume and that magic of wonder in taking you to another place, you have got to have the wonder.

Ironically despite my age this was also my first exposure to my favorite actor Sean Connery. This was his second starring film I believe and I became a fan of his Bond movies when I was a little older-they are the only ones even halfway close to the books. But back on track, Darby O'Gill is one of those movies I had to buy a copy of to keep and watch every now and again. How I view Banshee's is forever ingrained into me from Darby, not even counting Leprechauns that's a given.

The other thing I liked a lot was the phrase "Put the come hither on you" a spell of sorts in which the Leprechauns could theoretically hypnotize a person to follow them to their doom. I always liked it so much that in my wilder days it came into my speech when talking to my friends about attractive girls as in "She put the come hither on you did she?" or just to annoy a girl who had the misfortune of being named such hollering "Katy! Katy!" but like Darby so it would sound phonetically like "KATEEEEE! KATEEEEEE!" If you have not seen the movie treat yourself and then you'll get my sick jokes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Poetry Saturday: I Met A Savage

I am going to start a new series of posts that I will try to do every saturnday that I will the give the lyrical title of Poetry Saturday too. First up,

I Met A Savage

I met a savage
and his name was Ray
He is a Lamanite
a Navajo of night
From the four corners
when his mother is gone he will mourn her
Says the Mormons are people good
though he doesn't always do as he should
He likes to gamble and he likes to drink
the guys at work don't like him, say he doesn't think
But I believe it is because
there is something in that noble savage or was
That calls back to another time
when the land was his and not yours or mine
But then didn't they too take
from those that also forsake
To be nearer the earth
is as when man was birthed
And as such Christ said
be like a child or be alive but dead

Friday, September 18, 2009

Books Read These Last Few Weeks ? ? ?

My pilgrimage to Washington state and subsequent illness threw quite a damper in my usual prolific reading schedule and then I had to juggle a few other projects so this has been my slowest book marathon in ages, but here are the completed ones.

A Storyteller In Zion, Orson Scott Card
This is a collection of essay's from quite a varied amount of sources compiled and edited by OSC and distributed by Bookcraft (anybody remember them?) I liked the
whole thing overall, it is packed with great perspectives for writers. The interesting aspect is---I have to admit to not being a terribly big fan of OSC. I truly never cared for Enders Game and couldn't bring myself to read the sequels. I liked his Folk of the Fringe and Alvin Maker series much better but still thought it moved a little too slow or made villains out of really cool guys like Jim Bowie, and Jim Bowie rocks! The piece here that grabbed me the best and has honestly influenced me to the point of writing a novel was the first essay taken from a speech given at BYU in 93 for Life,The Universe and Everything titled "The Book of Mormon-Artifact or Artifice". It is a pretty good run down on how Joseph Smith could not possibly have had the info to write a book covering things from the ancient world so accurately, contrary to what people like Tal Bachman think Joseph could not have been just a great storyteller and been this lucky with things. My one beef with the essay which I addressed recently in the comments at Banner, Sword and Shield was Were the Mulekites really from Jerusalem. Card asserts that King Zarahemla may have tried to BS Mosiah that "Hey were from Jerusalem too and yeah, were descended from
your last king so we ought to be in charge of you" No dice, I think Card is dead wrong. King Z gave in and Mosiah became king. My argument is based off what the Book of Mormon tells us between the lines, and I thank Hugh Nibley for starting the ball rolling with the assessment of the name Lachoneus the Governor from Nephi 3 being a GREEK name. It means man from Laconia or SPARTA. I looked the text over and the Book has numerous Greek names including Judea, Jonas, Jesus Christ, Timothy, Lachoneus and Archeantus and all the Anti-names, possibly Onidah and my personal theory of Manti being a contraction of Mantinea a Greek city. Thinking about all this I did a boatload of research and came to the conclusion that King Zedekiah of Jerusalem had Greek mercenaries serving him at the time of the Babylonian invasion. I wrote a novel based upon a Spartan mercenary getting Mulek out of Jerusalem and to the Promised Land. That's a real quick rundown-I am blazing over so many details, but it explains why no Greek names are in the Book of Mormon before they meet the Mulekites or even the River Sidon named after a Phoenician city, because it was named by Mulekites not Nephites. Card has a lame excuse in my opinion and it has to assume that Mosiah is duped-at least in part. My explanation covers all the bases and doesn't require being an apologist which to me is a dirty word. I have thoroughly jacked the review of Card's book for discussing my own but it is because I read Card's essay a year and a half ago that inspired me to write "Bless The Child" Overall this was a great book for writing thoughts-that was just the piece that made me say I have to write this novel and give a fictional take on what I think actually did happen.

Night Winds, by Karl Edward Wagner
This is a favorite Sword and Sorcery writer of mine. This was a reread for me simply because I wanted to get back in touch with some of his wonderful prose. Wagner is a master at mood and setting. He has a brilliant way of giving you that resonance of ancient ruin and myth come alive. The main character in all the stories is Kane/Cain who makes for an incredibly interesting anti-hero which I don't usually like. In a less gifted writers hands I wouldn't care less but Wagner makes you interested in even such a villain and murderer. I wouldn't want to be pals with Kane but he does make for invigorating reading.

Moon of Skulls, by Robert E. Howard
This was another reread of mine by a favorite. I found this,(I have been looking for a copy for the last couple years and being such a used book hound never bothered
to order it online anyway) I found in a little used book shop next to the Pike Street Market in Seattle (where they throw fish) and was excited because it contained the last big REH story I had not read yet "Skullface" its about an ancient sorcerer attempting to unite a lot of the third world nations against western imperialism. It is probably one of the least PC stories Howard ever wrote but then it was written back in the 30's so I don't let any of that get in the way of a good tale-which it is. Along with a number of other short stories I love REH poems, this collection had over a half-dozen and they were all very good, if you like that hint of violent colorful (as in bloody and heroic) like I do.

Legend, by David Gemmell
Obviously I have been reading the more fantastical, sword and sorcery stuff lately and this one was new but no disappointment. Legend is grim fantasy grounded in familiar history, in many ways this could have been a tale about an eastern European fortress city defending itself against the Mongols. The magic is light, I like that, I like for magic to be grounded in a scientific way and have a cost for its use and not to be used as if its a blank check, that's the surest way for me to not care about a fantasy book. Gemmels other strength is he knows human nature and composes well written characters with believable dialogue and intelligent insight. I especially liked the lead character Druss an aged warrior fighting his last, but all the secondary characters were worth rooting for as well both good and bad. I have only read a couple Gemmell books but I will be going back for more.

I have also recently reread A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway but I discussed that recently already. I have also been skimming a number of research books for the sake of my writing but that should be reserved for another time. I should be back on my usual schedule of reading soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My 3 Year Old Tried to Make Breakfast

This may be a greater window into my home life than I intend but Oh Well.
My 3 year old decided he was going to do something nice for me, he was going to make me breakfast. So he proceeded to try. If the pictures don't do it justice, those are eggs all over the floor and some in the pan. Not pictured because I had already dumped it was the pitcher of orange juice with a good 2 inch thick helping of coffee grounds. YES, I don't need a section 89 reminder there are multiple reasons I'm not going to get into right now, besides that really isn't an issue anymore is it?

Friday, September 11, 2009

5 Novels That Shaped My Writing Voice

These are not influences on what I write so much as how to write, I don't claim to write like anyone here so much as they influenced my thoughts on voice, technique, and what I hope to accomplish as a writer.

A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
I read a lot in the blogs lately about people not liking Hemingway,(Prusso excepted) I used to not like Hemingway but that was back in High School when I was forced to read the Old Man and the Sea. I hated it because I was force-fed all this gibber
ish about what it really meant and I couldn't have cared less. Years later I found quotes by Hemingway that there was NO ALLEGORY to it, that the old man was just an old man, the sea was just the sea, the fish was just a fish and the sharks were just sharks and anyone who thought otherwise was full of $h%T. Man I wish I had that back in Mr. Grant's sophomore English class. I decided years later to try my hand at reading classics and I chose "The Sun Also Rises" and I really liked it and found I had better re-think Hemingway. I read a lot of his other stuff some better than others and found "A Moveable Feast" really spoke to me and influenced how I would write, at least when it came to thinking about how to write and interpret a natural true dialogue. Most of W. Prusso's Hemingway blog post from a few days ago is taken from Hemingway's writing advice within "A Moveable Feast".
The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Yes, I love all of his other stuff as well, but not even LOTR's has the same farreaching epic quality of this fantasy bible. I completely give that some of the parts are difficult to follow but among them are so many gems to be mined when it comes to dealing with human nature even if its an elf, dragon or dwarf. As a huge history buff, this book fascinated me in relation to the Hobbit and LOTR and all that entails. I don't expect that this would be on many other peoples list's in comparison but because of the depth behind the more beloved stories this meant a lot to me. I was also very pleased when The Children of Hurin was released because it just meant a greater depth to a great tale from the Silmarillion.

Conan the Usurper, by Robert E. Howard

This wasn't actually a book by REH so much as a compilation of his short stories put together some 30 years after his death but still it's relatively his prose even if it was edited with a heavy hand and strung together. It contains the earliest of Conan stories written by Robert E. Howard alongside some of the last. It was put together for the chronological sake however. Reading these fantasy tales written in the 30's by a true American master had me re-think how to present action stories period. I have to credit REH as my biggest writing style influence for Heroes Of The Fallen.

The Iliad, by Homer
There is something about the translations I have read or listened to (I have the audio for this as well) that makes it such a savage joy for me. The heroic nature of men speaking with one another and the beautiful poetic lyricism describing how men die is like nothing I have ever read. I love the Odyssey and the Aeneid as well but I can't say that they shaped how I want to write like the Iliad does. Someday I want to write my own tragic battle tale and no not even Heroes of the Fallen is going to be like these others, I am thinking on the Jaredites, specifically Coriantumr, Shiz and Ether and would probably make it a stand alone book rather than a series.

Wolverine, Comics from about issue 31 to 109, by Larry Hama
This is probably rather unorthodox but I imagine to list a comic book writer as a major influence for someone who would like to think they are literary, but I
practically learned to read on comic books. Larry Hama has had a rather distinguished career in the field having helmed G.I.Joe back in its heyday of the 80's when I was a major fan of that as well. And its obvious to anyone else who is a fan how much his G.I.Joe and Wolverine titles had in common. They each had indomitable characters who could persevere and survive whatever was handed them. I'm listing Wolverine here because of how much Larry's voice as a writer influenced how I would like to say things and I would especially recommend the series after issue 75 when Magneto ripped the adamantium from Wolverines skeleton making him significantly more vulnerable, that just made for a better book in my opinion.

When I think of what has shaped me as a writer there are a million different things but when I try very hard to think on it and narrow it down these were the top, strange as they are.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Music That Has Shaped Me

Over at Thmazing's Thutopia, Th did a post on the all important 5 albums that have shaped his view on music, I liked that a lot and thought I would do the same and on top of that add the 5 novels that have shaped how I write tomorrow.

Now neither of these list's necessarily constitute what I think are the absolute best 5 in either category but the 5 that I think have shaped my musical taste and writing style the most, maybe they are close to the same thing but not quite. Th gave links to Youtube for his, but I don't have the patience.

Duran Duran: Rio
I don't know how to describe it but their sound always appealed to me, I thought Hungry Like the Wolf was the coolest song in the world when I was 10. And the appeal is still there, my daughters middle name is RIO.

Sisters of Mercy: Floodland
These guys rock with industrial drum beats, crunching guitars and backing up the deep bass of the lead singer Andrew Eldritch is the New York Choral Society on such great tracks as "This Corrosion" and "Dominion" Besides rocking, I love the lyrics which are full of savage poetry borrowing from the likes of Percy Bysshe Shelley as well as political satire. I think "This Corrosion" could be my all-time favorite song.

Sarah Brightman: FLY
She is my favorite singer and I have always loved her versatility despite being best known as Christine in Phantom of the Opera or the funeral dirge "Time To Say Goodbye" with Andrea Bocelli. I like this album much better because it is more of a
symphonic rock album with greats such as "Ghost In The Machinery" and "How Can Heaven Love Me" and as an interesting side note, Andrew Eldritch of Sisters of Mercy did backing vocals on that last track.

The Smiths: Strangeways Here We Come
It must be remembered that this title is referring to the English Prison named Strangeways and not just the idea of a strange place. In America this might have been titled Alcatraz Here We Come. This may not be the best Smiths album but it is the one I discovered them on and it does have some great songs, "Girlfriend In A Coma" and "Stop Me If You Think You Have Heard This Before" could be one of their best.

New Order: Substance
This is a best of that also included a couple of Joy Division songs(another favorite of mine) In theory I wouldn't included a best of when it comes to the "best" al
bums but this is how I really discovered them. New Order is the defining group that really put me on the path to alternative music in high school, they were just so much better than the trash I was hearing on pop radio. I even used to get "Blue Monday" and "True Faith" played at ward dances, that was quite the accomplishment for me and the Bishop's daughter when everybody else wanted Def Lepard.

Honorable mentions:

Massive Attack: Mezzanine
Great Trip-Hop with stunning sound, I never cared for their follow-up albums as much, they need to get someone like Sarah Brightman to do guest vocals for them like Liz Fraser (Cocteau Twins and Lord of the Rings soundtrack) did. "Angel" and "Teardrop" phenomenal mood music, very hard to top.

KMFDM: Nihil
I always like Industrial rock such as NIN, Front 242, and Nitzer Ebb but KMFDM is the one that really moved me and they have never been the dink sell-out that NIN is.
That and trust me, though you don't think you have heard KMFDM you have, their mu
sic has been everywhere from movie soundtracks to TV commercials and even the cool rocking techno music radio DJ's play in the background while they are talking and yet not hip enough to actually play in full. I even hear one of their songs as a sedge way music on Glenn Beck's program all the time. Classic tracks would be "Juke Joint Jezebel" "Brute" "Ultra" "Revolution" and "Beast"

Nightwish: Once
This is the definition of symphonic rock with excellent tracks like "The
Siren" "Nemo" and "Dark Chest Of Wonders" When I write within the Heroes of the Fallen pantheon this is the Nephite heroic theme music in my mind as opposed to the sinister Gadianton theme music of Rammstein.

This is a longer post than I thought, that and I realized not a one of these artists is American, (though KMFDM reside in Seattle and the female lead Lucia is American) oh well, authors and books will make up for that tomorrow.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hanging with Jewel

Summer of 95, I was excited to finally see one of my favorite singers- Peter Murphy, formerly of Bauhaus. I like Peter better than Bauhaus but that's neither here nor there. I would highly recommend his album DEEP. The concert was held at the now departed Fairpark coliseum in Salt Lake City. I saw lots bands there - (Everclear, Primus, and some U2 cover band that Ryan Darger demanded and got his money back from because he said they weren't a good enough cover band-Zoo Station)

Anyhow as we were standing in line to get into the concert I noticed a girl with purple eyes. I remember this because it was weird AND because a very interesting man had recently told me perhaps only a couple weeks earlier that you could recognize Aliens as in extra terrestial's because they have purple eyes but are otherwise human. And he told me that if you recognize them and they know you recognize them it is a way a breaking the ice with them and becoming their friend. YES, he was serious and No, he was not a homeless drunk, I can't say who he was but he is actually a very respected local scientist who doesn't usually put such info out there.

Not saying I believe it by any means but I remembered purple eyes. So maybe this girl was an alien on her way to enjoy a Peter Murphy concert or she might have one of the 95% of goths in black going to the show. I remember remarking to my friends that we were almost the only people not dressed entirely in Black, but I digress because purple eyes are weird and she might have been an Alien.

As we were slowly moving inside the coliseum I saw a couple of pretty girls who also weren't dressed entirely in black and as me and my friends found a good spot to watch the show -high up in the back near a spotlight platform- I went and said "Hello," since they sat nearby.
"Hello." She was the opening acts tour manager. "Who is the opening act?" says I.
"Her name is Jewel, you'll like her, Peter himself picked her out for his tour as opening act. You should come to an after concert party," she invited, "She will play live again there." "Maybe if I like her sound," I said. I wasn't going to sound too overeager for my first after concert party invitation.

I went and told my friends about the invite and we agreed that it would be conditional if we liked her, after all as everyone knows, most opening bands stink. My first thought was her name is Jewel? I pictured the lead singer from the Cranes-their best song was titled Jewel. Very gothic band, so that influenced what I thought Jewel would look like. Frowny pale faced girl with hair black like the abyss. Instead a short smiling blonde came out with an acoustic guitar, my mind wants to tell me she was barefoot just to fit in with the down-home good old girl image but No she must have had shoes on.

I actually liked her songs and her performance, trouble is I have never ever heard those songs again. When her national career broke out a good fat year later the songs I liked were not to be found. One of them was something about a bunch of backwoods boys finding a beautiful blonde and the chorus of the song was "Da-da-da-daddy can we keep her?" It was humorous. We agreed we would go to the after concert party.

Peter did put on a particularly good show and at one point I seem to recall that he acknowledged us high up in the back on the spotlight platform. After the show, we went to the designated place a little dive off of west temple called the cyber-space cafe, cyber space being a rather novel term at the time, as absolutely redundant as it was considering it was not an Internet cafe as I recall. It was small and narrow with but a few tables crowding the length and I was hungry and there was nothing left to eat but dry biscotti. It was packed even though I would not say there were very many people there. The only table left available was all the way in the back. We took it grudgingly thinking we would not be able to see very well at all. Everyone who had beaten us there took the seats and tables closest to the door- assuming she would play there.

We lucked out. Jewel came in and set up right next to my table. We had to slide it back and crowd the people behind us to give her a little more room and she even asked if it was alright if she placed her water on the table with ours. Sure it is. As she played her set we clapped loudly and were encouraging and I drank her water. Which got me a playful scolding. Again she played some songs I liked that I have still never heard again. She told me she was Mormon but her dad got X-ed a long time ago so she didn't show up anymore. After the show we hung out for a while and it was pretty cool. It was a pleasant thing to start hearing her on the radio about a year later although most of those songs really weren't my style, it was cool to know someone who had their dreams come true after a lot of hard work.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Back in The U.S.S.A.

I am back home after a venture to pay the bills in Washington state where nature conspired against me and gave me quite the bout of allergy related asthma, a condition I had heretofore never noticed. I was in the Tri-Cities area and not the lush greenery of Seattle which I am more used to. I did go to Seattle over the
weekend and made a few contacts for the sake of my book, which is always nice, I also found a nice little used book shop in the Pike City market area and couldn't help but feel I was transported to the Market bazaar of Zarahemla from Chapter one of my Heroes of the Fallen

In any case I bailed out of the Tri-Cities area early and made my way to Montana and my parents home, I loaded up on somethings that have been stored there for ages (a pair of my Spanish swords, and old saber, some African spears and loads of my old poems and writings from my teens and early twenties) I'll have to look over what is possibly viable for future works and possible posts.

On the way back to Utah I established a relationship with a couple more bookstore for signings, one in Montana and one in Idaho. Regrettably the book is pushed back a month so anyone expecting an ARC or even a review copy is going to be waiting a bit longer. Sounds like my release date is going to be November so I'll probably be doing a load of signings in Christmas time. I will be trying to venture as much as possible for promotions sake so its all good to be making the connections now I suppose.

Anyone willing to tell me what they have liked the most about book signings they have been to in the past? Readings? Giveaways? Pictures with authors? I had a pic of me and Andy Serkus at his book signing but I can't find it now. But that inspires me to do posts about a few minor celebrities I have hung out with-I'll tell my Jewel story next time.