Sunday, May 31, 2009

Heroes of the Fallen, concept cover art

I regret that I am not yet allowed by my publisher to show the advanced concept cover art. But I can tell you a little about it.

I originally hoped for something a bit more dramatic than what I am usually seeing on the covers of BofM fiction. Honestly if all wishes could be fulfilled I would have wanted Frank Frazetta to do my cover. He is one of my all time favorite artists, a very close second would be Arnold Friberg, but if wishes were horses . . .

Instead the artist has gone for a more understated look. Perhaps my ravings that my Nephites could not look like Aztec's was a bit too much. But its all good. A couple of my favorite authors book covers are also understated and if anything it has
perhaps only helped to set them apart from other fantasy covers.

I found Joe Abercrombies book 'The Blade Itself' at the D.I. and wondered Ok what is this? The cover caught me because it was so different and the blurbs on the back also snagged me, Scott Lynch's especially.

George R. R. Martin's a song of ice and fire series has gone from a typical enough (only cover wise) set to a new understated chromatic style. Each book only having a single outlined image. 1. A Lion for House Lannister, 2. A Crown, 3. A Sword, 4. A Crow, and upcoming book 5. a Dragon, that looks very similar to the Welsh standard
banners dragon.

In all this had actually made me think perhaps I wanted an understated cover and it looks like that's what I am going to get. I will post a teaser as soon as I can.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some Weird and Rare Books I Own, part 2

I have a library of around 4,ooo volumes so there are quite a few weird and rare books in the office. And now in no particular order.

MARCUS KING, MORMON by Nephi Anderson

This is the same guy who wrote the better known ADDED UPON, which I also have an old copy of but it is from 1939 and Marcus King was printed in 1900 by George Q. Cannon & Sons. I'm not sure if there even was a Deseret Book yet and maybe the former became D.B. I can't remember at 1:A.M. Anyway it's old and that was the point of the post. Its about a reverend who surprise surprise, converts to the gospel and is disparaged by his former friends and neighbors but says at the end it was all worth it. That's a quick summary of thumbing it just now because I have not yet read it. Originally published in serial in the Juvenile Instructor they (George Q. Cannon & Sons) published it in book form for the LDS audience. Sorry if I didn't go into better depth for all you die-hard Anderson fans out there.


These are a little more into the weird category since I don't think they are that rare for anyone who would really look. Pretty sure I got mine at Sam Weller's. Ogden Kraut is a fundamentalist and an independent, or at least he was, he's deceased now. I actually have a lot of his books for the same reason I have a lot of LDS Archival Publishers books, for the sake of history. He does have some out there theories in a lot of his self-published stuff but nothing too terribly weird or unexpected. I liked these 2 books in particular for the Mormon folklore aspect.

For those that don't know John Koyle was at one time a Bishop in Salem. In 1894, he supposedly received a heavenly messenger,that told him of an ancient Nephite gold mine, still full of treasure that would some day save the Church. I have no problem with any of this in theory. I want to believe, to quote Fox Mulder, but I am not convinced and it has nothing to do with threatenings of Koyles excommunication or the geologic analysis of the mountain behind Salem by non-other than Apostle James E. Talmage, declaring there would be no gold from the mine. Despite all of this I don't buy it. Though I do know a couple of shareholders. But I don't buy it because even though numerous prophecies by Bishop Koyle seem to have come true, I cannot find anything to tell me that the man TESTED the spirit that gave him the information. Without testing a spirit, even if it appears clothed in light, I wouldn't trust it all. But this is really starting to go on a tangent, so I'm gonna close this one with the idea is cool, I'll use it in my books eventually but do I believe it? No, I don't.

Out of four, I have volumes 3 and 4. They are rather interesting encyclopedias from 1890. A lot of the scientific fact within is laughable. I think they may have been handy-dandy old west school marm material. A lot of nice wood-cut illustrations inside.

THE GOLDEN BOUGH by Sir James G. Frazer
My copy is only from 1950, so its not too old. I may be the most religious person to appreciate this work. I must say I don't agree with his conclusions anymore than I do with Joseph Campbells, Hero with a Thousand Faces. But I like it for the sake of ancient cultures and beliefs. Ultimately Frazer's goal was to illustrate the shared belief structure of people culminating in religion. In a nutshell, religion and spirituality are hooey. I'm much to spiritual and have had too many personal experiences to believe his agnostic premise. But as a source book on paganism it is wonderful. I have used somethings for HEROES OF THE FALLEN and BLOOD OF OUR FATHERS. Now that I think about it those titles almost seem FRAZERIAN. But they're not, they're JOSEPH-SMITHIAN.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Slicing and Dicing

I'm done with my editing (so far) on my first three chapters. The part that was surprising was how much my editor had me cut out of my leading ladies introduction. I wonder if perhaps, my explanations introducing a female character were overkill. In book one "Heroes of the Fallen" Bethia, gets more screen time than any other woman and I give that its considerably less than the bulk of other male characters but it's a 'Sword and Sandals' tale taking place during Mormon chapter one. Bethia is the daughter of the Chief Judge Onandagus, and a little rebellious. I hope that's not too overdone a stereotype. But in my experience stereotypes exist for a good reason.

So how many women would this saga justify? They are not in the thick of fighting. After all they're not Jaredites being slaughtered down to the last living person. (At least not yet)

So I have, Bethia, daughter of Miriam the Seeress, the wife of Onandagus.

Ofra, wife of Anathoth, a Tultec (Ishmaelite) general.

Lilith, the wickedest woman in the series.

Sayame, a Lamanite princess.

There are others but these five get the most face time and lines. I do plan on expanding the women characters for the upcoming books and hopefully writing them well enough I won't need to keep slicing and dicing on their motivation. I would welcome comments on what you would like to see (especially if it hasn't been done) and what stereotypes you are sick of.

Pic by the magnificent Kris Cooper. I say think Sayame, not Bethia, on her look, just my take.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Black Nephite

"When there's no where else to run, is there room for one more son, one more son? If you can hold on, if you can hold on, hold on."
All These Thing's I've Done- The Killers

(yes, I changed son-sun)

Black Nephites! To the best of my knowledge nobody has ever touched on the subject. There are still a handful of BoM historical works out there I haven't read but I'm working on it just to be sure of what everyone else has done. I have taken the Hemingway advice of "Knowing who to Beat" to heart and so I must know what everyone else has done. Because to me there is no point in doing what has already been done unless you can do it better.

Meet Taharka, a big burly mute bodyguard to Lilith. He is a Nubian and alas the first introduction anyone gets to a black Nephite in book one; is that he is not a good guy but that's just how it is. I named him after a Nubian king that conquered Egypt during king Hezekiah's day, so not long before Lehi really. Will Smith is supposed to be making a movie about him titled 'the Last Pharaoh' but I am not a Will Smith fan.

My genesis for the character came from my opinion on Phoenicians coming to the America's and almost certainly having some Nubian's among their crew's. I use this big time in 'Bless the Child'. So by the time Mormon is a boy, I have Nubian's in Zarahemla and no one bats an eye. I was also inspired by the idea of Melungeon's. They are a creole people living in the Appalachians that I have read up on. For ages their origins have been shrouded in mystery and numerous members have claimed that they predated Europeans in America. Current DNA research and other scholarly evidence says that they are simply indentured servants or freed slaves that merged with the Cherokee but I was fascinated with the idea of them having been here in America ages before Columbus as some of them claim. Tying them to Nubian's and Nephite's to make that particular tale true was just fun and allowed me to insert black characters into my Book of Mormon fiction.

I must admit, I don't even know any African-Americans in the LDS church but if I were a young LDS A-A man, I think it would be great to have an African Nephite in my Book of Mormon story. Just like I, as a half Lithuanian (the rest Scot/English/German/Swedish murder machine) puts myself into the Curelom skin boots of my lead Nephite character. And my sons when they are older and reading can put their quarter Lithuanian and itsy bit of Lamanite into the moccasin's of Zelph. So I am sorry that the first Black Nephite isn't a good guy, but this is gonna be a big series, so just wait till July 2010 for book two 'Blood of Our Fathers'.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Design, Fashion and Weapons

I had to send in some thoughts on designs for my book cover and map. I'm very excited about each. One thing I had to stress is my Nephite Warriors cannot look like Aztecs/Mayan's.

Why you may ask? This post is not meant to start a debate, but for me to explain a thimbles worth of my own logic, which goes against the popular trends. So why don't I think Nephites would look like Aztec's?

Because why on Earth would Nephites look like Aztecs? They wouldn't. Nothing in the BoM suggests that they would wear Aztec clothing. They had thick clothing and armor to put fear into the hearts of the Lamanites because they were protected, Lamanites weren't at least until they got wise. The BoM describes them (Lamanites) as being shaven headed and wearing nothing but skins about their loins. Show me a single stelae in Mesoamerica with a Lamanite like that. So despite lack of evidence in Mesoamerica for metal-smithing (For one thing, thats not where Zarahemla was anyway) why would people suggest that, other than to push their own flawed agenda?

I can't stand the Captain Moroni pictures or statues where they take the classic Friberg pose and redress him as a heathen Aztec. Do you really think Captain Moroni would wear a gaudy, functionally worthless feather headdress because that was the style? Does the man who could make Hell quake, seem like a guy that would wear something so superfluous. And IF he wouldn't who else would? For as much as the Fribergs get bashed online nowadays I can't help but think they are closer to the truth than most other representations.

The BoM says that Nephi forged swords similar to the Sword of Laban. FORGED! So that means he made them like all ancient blacksmiths did. Not attaching sharp pieces of volcanic rock to sticks. Don't get me wrong, a Maquahuitl will mess somebody up. Conquistadors reported skilled Aztec warriors decapitating horses with them, but I still would deem it an inferior weapon compared to a steel Nephite sword.

These are my personal weapons that are essentially the same for a major character in my Book of Mormon series. I trust them more than I would stone. I had to get the warhammer for a character after finding in my voluminous research, an etching of a similar warhammer dating from Nephite times. My first thought was, Yea, thats Amaron's.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Review: Powder Keg, On Sparta, etc etc

Been a little under the weather and did not get as much writing done as I would have liked. My wife says that always makes me cranky and she's probably right.

For reviews, I thought I would just go over what I'm reading for the month. I read Powder Keg by Leo V. Gordon and Richard Vetterli. Its from 1991 but I am not going to only review new books because I don't only read new books, so that said. This is about Johnstons army coming to Utah in 1857. It deals primarily with Porter Rockwell's stalling tactics of said army to put down a non-existent Mormon rebellion. Though it uses quite a bit of intriguing real history this is absolutely historical fiction. The one thing that bugged me was the attempt at making Port (a hero of mine) sound very well read, sorry, the guy is Awesome! but to my understanding illiterate. I could deal with the little bit of fictional romance in his life here and there and even competing for the girl with Lot Smith. Though this was very well researched, some other things stuck out. There was no Bill Hickman and if you're gonna tell the multiple character story arc's of people involved in all of it, the true story Charles Wilckens should not have been left out. Overall it was still good, I really liked some of the tactics used to slow Johnston. Don't know that they were true, but still good. Just a little anti-climactic but I think I would still give it 3.5 out of a possible 5. I would say its definitely more memorable than Richard Lloyd Dewey's first Rockwell novel and don't get me started on that abomination of a movie with Karl Malone.

Plutarch's 'On Sparta" is great, probably ought to give it a 4.5 right out of the gate. The edition I'm reading also includes a section by Xenophon on Spartan society and how by obeying their Law put them into a position of great power within Greece. I can't help but think of mirroring some things about Spartan Law and the Gospel. Such as IF we were capable of living U.O. and Consecration.What I'm especially enjoying my second time reading it, is the Spartan sayings. Far too many good quotes for one book. I'm gonna be borrowing lots of them.

Also I haven't gotten as far into my novel/research list because I've been reading some online short stories and I've got to plug P.D. Mallamo. I really liked his story 'Sign of the Gun'. He is a writer I will be watching for, very different from the norm relating to LDS writers and that's a good thing.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What IF?

As a writer I am equally blessed and cursed with the near constant thought of What If? Mostly for the sake of stories. One important thing I decided upon from near the begining of trying to work towards being published was to keep a notebook for ideas, because new ideas or What If's are always streaming.

I keep spiral notebooks because they open the most easily. I have over a dozen filled with typically one page sections (sometimes more) just on ideas that will evantually be utilized somewhere. Its important to me to always have that to fall back on, because you never know.

My winning first chapter for a recent contest "Dance the Ghost with Me" came from a single late night entry about Porter Rockwell and spirits thick as honey. I took that crude scrawl and hammered it out over two nights, a thursday and friday, spellchecked it saturday afternoon and then sent it out into the ether, just before deadline.

I guessed it would either win or I would be shunned for so brutal and dark a mormon work. Which is still a fine line I worry over. Had I lost, my confidence in ever writing something for the LDS market would have been sorely wounded. Yet even if it had, it was one week later I was offered a contract. So you never know.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Get Busy Child

I once heard round about, that a friend of mine was complaining that he didn't like his wife listening to the Crystal Method's "Get Busy Child" because it was such a Dave song. In essence that it was just too ME; and for some reason that bothered him.

It's all good. They're divorced now but I'm still friends with both, so I don't think the thumping bass-line of "Get Busy Child" had anything to do with it. Just kind of funny now, I can't hear that song, that I really liked without associating it with them. (And Kevvy doesn't even like it) I sure never used to associate it with them. But it came up on the que yesterday and brought me back.

It also got me thinking that I have been slacking too much on my other book "Bless the Child" and I need to finish another set of rewrites and get it out to my advance readers, so that it too can join its brothers in the publishing world. I have been assigned an editor and we begin in earnest upon "Heroes of the Fallen" next week. Gotta Get Busy Child.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Forging Ahead

I am looking forward to the edits on my first 2, soon to be published books and I'm trying to understand marketing better for when they actually come out. Sounds like Sept/Oct for book one 'Heroes of the Fallen' and July of 2010 for book two 'Blood of Our Fathers'. Its exciting and almost unreal to think my dreams are coming true.

I am also putting together some short historical fantasy short stories for e-zines and brainstorming on something to submit to the Irreantum fiction contest which will be posted in August of this year, perfect for generating some pre book release buzz. As busy and 'not enough time' as I'm feeling right now, I wonder how breezy this will feel soon enough. Gotta keep forging ahead with life though and find the balance in all things.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Disheartening News

A favorite new bookstore of mine just down the road is closing its doors. Provident Book down on State street in Pleasant Grove is going to be gone in a week and that puts the fire of Moloch in me. They have only been there for about seven months. I did a lot of my christmas shopping there and probably bought about 30 books since then. We even loaded up on more toys for the kids when we heard they were going to discontinue their toy lineup. Then they were going to have a book swap, which I thought was awesome. Now this. It frustrates me because of how much I had hopes for an independent book store in Utah County. I had hoped, if my publisher allowed, to do my book launch there come this fall.

Curse Ba'al's devils, Gadiantons must be afoot

Friday, May 8, 2009

When I Write

Late. Late at night when the children have cried themselves to sleep after a scary bedtime story and my wife too has passed into fitful haunting slumber. When the pale moon is up, so am I at the keyboard rewriting what was first scratched out with pen and notepad. Whether cyclopean ruins in dust or fair ships gliding across azure waters, stories come alive for me best after dark.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Influential Writers

I read a lot, so there are many writers whose works have influenced me but I have selected several for the here and now, who are closest to what I am working on right now. I do think this is quite an unusual and eclectic group for someone who is writing Book of Mormon fiction.

Right out the door, the number one spot would have to go to, two gun Robert E. Howard. More than anyone else, I would say his influence has shaped the action and yet colorful descriptive realm in which I wished to write. I am a cumpulsive Howardian attempting to get my hands on everything he ever wrote. Favorite titles: 'Beyond the Black River' 'The Phoenix on the Sword' and 'Hour of the Dragon' These are all Conan tales by the man who came up with heroic fantasy back in the 30's and 20's. Though he wrote action yarns all across the spectrum of genres. Other favorites include 'Kings of the Night' 'The Gods of Bal-Sagoth' and 'The Fires of Ashurbanipal'.

J. R. R. Tolkien has influenced generations of writers but I'm not sure how many he may have influenced that are not directly doing fantasy. As a kid I wondered why no one was writing Book of Mormon fiction like Tolkien wrote the weaving together of Norse, Welsh, Celtic, and Finnish myth. Not that I am calling the BoM myth by any means, on the contrary I am of the opinion that it did indeed happen in largely what we now call the United States but my problem was no one was doing a big enough sweeping epic like Tolkien did. This is my vision, that I would like to think carries the same depth and far reaching movements. Yes, I disdain the Limited Geography Theories down to my very soul, but that is another post. Favorite titles: Like I need to tell you.

For pure weight of wonderful imagery and strong important themes, Cormac McCarthy is great. By blending both the great imagery and theme, I am moved beyond whatever his stories are dealing with which to to me defines great literature. Favorie titles: 'The Road' and 'Blood Meridian.

Contributing to my LDS related research and new ways of looking at things I love both Hugh Nibley and Cleon Skousen. I am stunned at how one of them is still upheld within the community and how much the other is bashed, I don't get it. Either one has done more than any twelve men you can shake a stick at; their combined research dwarfs that of any two dozen other researchers. Favorites titles of Nibley include: all four of his 'Teachings of the Book of Mormon' (invaluble material) and though all of his titles are great, I especially have gleaned from 'Lehi in the Desert' and 'Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri' for Cleon Skousen there is 'The First Two Thousand Years' and all in that series and his 'Treasures from the Book of Mormon' series.

H.P. Lovecraft is an odd one to include here and yet, he has given that curious flavor of both metaphorical rhetoric and unearthly horror to that which I hope to accomplish. A contemporary and friend of REH he was also published primarily in the pulps during his lifetime. Favorite titles: 'Dagon' 'The Mound' and 'The Call of Cthulhu'.

Ernest Hemingway fits in here as someone who though I didn't care for the stories half as much as I love how he writes and that brings to my mind on how I want to convey the stories I do which are dramatically different from his and yet still retain that human emotion and power. Favorite titles: 'A Moveable Feast' 'The Sun Also Rises' and 'Under the Ridge' had me laughing out loud and its not a comedy. Least favorite as in I hated it in High School: 'The Old Man and the Sea'. I hated it because of how much my English teacher tried to read all kinds of allegories into it. Years upon years later I found a quote by Hemingway where he said that was all "Bullsh*T", that it was just a story with no hidden meanings beyond. I wish so bad I had that back when I was a sophmore and wouldn't have to be tested on yet another thing that wasn't true.

I grew up on comics, practically learning to read on comics. They may have fueled my need in reading for things to be happening for the story to constantly be moving on. My alltime favorite comic book writer is Larry Hama. At one time or another I have been an avid follower of what he is working on from junior high to the present. Favorite titles: (He has worked on all my favorite titles) 'Wolverine', 'G.I. Joe', 'Conan', and 'Batman'.

I suppose that enough for now, part two later.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Inside Joke of the Singles Ward

No this isn't about things that only those of you who went to a singles ward would get, I'm talking about an inside joke in the movie 'the Singles Ward' and something I don't think much of anybody would get.
I got married in September of 2002, and I never went to a singles ward (and I married at 29). One of the things I wanted to share with my wife Debi was my movie collection, being a Utah County girl I had a lot of stuff she had never seen, one of which was 'This is Spinal Tap' the original great mockumentary of the fictitious heavy metal band Spinal Tap, although for a fictious band they do have a decent catalog, including releasing an album on the movies tenth anniversary, titled 'Break Like the Wind'

Long story short, the first time I tried to get her to watch the movie with me, we did not get any farther than perhaps a half hour in because of their performance of 'Big Bottoms' a tribute to well big bottoms. Admittedly it was rather crude.

Years later she was able to watch the full movie and laugh just not when we were newly married. In any case, ages later we were watching 'the Singles Ward' together (I had never seen it upon initial release). About an hour and twenty six minutes in as ZAK is attaching bungees cords to his beetle and just after Jonathan has had his late night reaffirmation of the gospel. Zak is under the beetle humming 'Big Bottoms'.

Of this there can be no doubt. A good friend of mine, is friends with Kurt Hale and I asked him to ask Kurt about it. Turns out my wife and I were the first ones to ever notice. So it was Spinal Tap. Also in 'Sons of Provo' the mormon boy band historian is Nigel Tufnel Jr.; because in Spinal Tap the lead guitarist is Nigel Tufnel, so yet another connection on the mockumentary level.

Monday, May 4, 2009

At the LDStorymakers Writers Conference

These are the only two pictures I found of me at the conference, (where I won first place for general fiction!) It took a long time to find these two out of like a billion.
Thanks I believe to Shirley Bahlmann for taking the pics.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Some Weird and Rare Books I Own

I love books, I collect them, display them and have them in just about every room in the house. I tried to count them a month or two ago and honestly lost count but its somewhere around 4,000. Thought it might be interesting to tell about at least some of the stranger ones. Now in no particular order.

THE SMOKY GOD by Willis George Emerson
I think I bought this at Sam Weller Books down in the basement. (great book store) This the supposed true tale of a Norwegian named Olaf Jansen that with his father sailed ever northward until they went through a portal at the north pole into the hollow earth. This was told in relative detail on his deathbed to Willis George Emerson, who put it into book. I like the idea, I love the idea of HOLLOW EARTH!!!
I just don't know that its true, it can make for interesting novels though. The Smoky God itself is what the interior inhabitants call the small burning star that lights the inside of Hollow Earth. I like that everything inside is gigantic compared to the surface world and yet what IF that is how things were before the flood. I am not positive how old the book is, but there is a date on the back for perhaps Olaf Jansen's death in 1908.

THE VERONIAN TRUTH by Devero Hollowell
I don't even remember where I found this one, could have been Sam Weller's could have been the D.I. ( a vastly underrated book source) The cover makes it look like another Hollow Earth book but that just hides that absolutely bizarre reworkings of Genesis with quite a racist twist.
Published 1952.

HELEN OF TROY by Andrew Lang
This is one of the oldest books I have, it being from 1883. It is an epic poem done in much the same way as the ILIAD, ODYSSEY and the AENEID; but much more from Helen's presence rather than Achilles, Odysseus or Aeneas.

I don't know how old it is as the cover and front page are missing but it is OLD, somebody took notes and dated them from spring to summer of 1906. (yes John, its really your book but I have had it for like 5 years, rescuing it from Steves trashed floor)

Let me first just say its all well and good that people have their own ideas about BoM geography. Thats what this book is. Its cool that I have this, its old (1898), but I just don't agree with his conclusions. He bases most everything in South America with only brief forays up into Central America and almost nothing but the Hill Cumorah in the north. That dog don't hunt, and you can't teach a hammer to love nails. It happened in this land, see HEROES OF THE FALLEN.

Now this isn't that old only being from 1971 but it is different. How often do you find a purported true tale involving white Lamanites in the Yucatan and this the journal account of visiting and living with them? When a friend first told me about this book I was pretty skeptical and wasn't even that interested. But I evantually gave it a chance and couldn't put it down. Bear in mind this book was so rare I was reading a photocopy of a photocopy. It is not Norman Pierce's story but that of two brothers out of Chinle Arizona, who go to the Yucatan in the 30's and befriend these hidden Lamanites. Their customs and what not, are remarkably similar to another peculiar people's and I found their anticipation and readiness for building up Jackson County intriguing.
There is also a big section towards the end about the Messiah coming and visiting with a large Indian council. I am seriously mining this book for DANCE THE GHOST WITH ME.

I guess thats enough for now, plenty more later

Saturday, May 2, 2009

CD's I bought this year

Time was, (the 90's) I bought at least a CD a week and back before that in the 80's I was buying cassette tapes all the time. I am sure I spent more money on music than I ever did on clothes or anything else. But now my hundreds of cassette's are filling up a trunk in Montana, and even the CD's which have a mediocre trade in value are mostly gone. I used to have a competition with a friend for who had more, we were getting into the 1,000 plus range when his collection got stolen. Years later, everythings on the computer (with all kinds of crazy backups) and since becoming married, a parent, and much more into book collecting the CD collection fell bythe wayside. I have to be pretty motivated to buy an album, so here's what I bought this year.
1. Morrissey: Years of Refusal

I'm a big fan, daresay I think of him as the premier poet of our day. Because I'm such a fan, I got this within a week or two of release and at first only two songs really caught me. Thats a little poor for me with a Morrissey album but in the last couple weeks I find other tracks are getting stuck in my head in a good way. Best track: 'All You Need is Me'

2. Brule: We the People

My wife and I watched them perform on the UEN channel, (thats a weird station, who knows whatever is gonna turn up on it) In any case they put on a real good show at Mount Rushmore and I remembered the songs titles that I liked. They have a Native American/ Symphonic Rock sound that I dig. Nothing much in the way of lyrics, mostly chanting but it's easy on the ears and I look for stuff thats good to listen to when I write. It took awhile to actually find one of their albums none of the local stores had it. I went to an Native American shop in the local mall and they had this one, their first album so I bought it. Not quite as good as what I watched on UEN but still good and I gotta account that it was their first. Best track: 'Red Path' or 'Fire Dancer'

3. Lacuna Coil: Shallow Life

I did buy this on date of release. I first heard of these guys in a joint add with one of my other favorites Nightwish. Both are heavier rock fronted by women, yet they retain a strong melodic sound that so many other groups miss. I listened to their previous album Karmacode a lot writing first drafts of what became 'Heroes of the Fallen' and 'Blood of Our Fathers'. So I was very excited this album was finally getting released, its been 3 years. I don't know if I like this one as much as Karmacode but it still grips me. They have got to be the best Italian band period.Best tracks: 'I Won't Tell You' or 'Spellbound'

4. Lady GaGa: The Fame

Its funny I just got done telling my wife that I didn't care about stuff that was popular in fact I usually disdain it. And she brought this up. In my defense yeah I heard 'Just Dance' a bunch of times and thought it was alright, but what really got me was when I was eating lunch in my car fiddling through the radio stations and heard 'Pokerface' I didn't even know who sang it, I missed that but it stuck with me. Days later, I was looking through a CD rack, saw Lady GaGa and thought that kinda sounded like her, and it was, so I bought it. Best track: 'Pokerface'

Reviewing Poetry by Michael R. Collings

I recieved and read 'On the Morning of Christ's Nativity' by Michael R. Collings. It's an LDS Christmas/Easter piece modeled on Milton's poem by the same name. I'm not going to post it here, but I thought I might go ahead and put my little interpretation of it down. He wrote that my review of it was a pick-me-up. So I must have written something he liked.

Some stanza's just hit me right and I had to stop and think about them, in particular.

II line 3 And I wish that I were now in Other-When
perhaps because when I'm not writing enough myself, and just thinking I could be too much like Miniver Cheevy without the drinking.

X Some seek the safest way
That in stolen freedom lay
Where One will force each Spirit's right decision,
And joined in gleeful mirth
At those whose trial on Earth
Might end with them soul-bound by Sin's derision
While they who chose in fear this plan
Were garunteed safe-conduct back to God, as man.
This one hit me between the eyes. The some seek the safest way, stolen freedom lay. It is some of our oldest lore and yet I liked the new poetic way of referencing it. The theme is whats powerful. The very war in heaven and Paradise Lost itself are just elemental forces that force my attention and thought.

XIII- 7 and 8 Is this too great a burden still
For One so tiny, weak, and helpless to fulfill?
It took me to Bethlehem more than any of the rest thus far

XVI- 8 And fashions thus a vessel for our soul's exchange.
The imagery moves me, contemplating God fashioning the vessel.

XVII -2 He our full forfeit pays,
How true, without him we are forfeit, the wording is perfect here, to me I really hope Im not coming off as some kind of a hack. You're the Professor, I am a construction worker to pay the bills, writing and reading are my passions and I am hard at work to make writing a career but I sure do not presume to tell you 'Job Well Done' I can only say I know what I like (And I am at least a very picky son of a gun)

XX- Until each Heavenly Sphere
Bides, eager to draw near
The seat of Radiance and ethereal Throne;
Across the cosmic waste
Each planet waits in place
I think of Kolob here, that most celestial of planets not mentioned much anymore by anyone current.

XXII - 8 Renew the Plan and seek progression as His own
To me, it recalls Eternal Progression (in my mind and understanding a foundational universal law) can't understand why McConkie tried to nail it as a heresy

XXIII But no! it is not so;
For us there can be no
Other-Where or Other-When than here;
I know, I know, I remind myself constantly (see Miniver Cheevy remark) It is for the best, I chose to come to the here and now and must needs stop daydreaming of living during the Book of Mormon wars, thats what writing fiction is for.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Fair Wind Blows

This is it, my first blog on May the first and I was just offered my first contract today for Heroes of the Fallen, so its a good start. I've got a lot to do, finish the rewrites on my Spartan/Mulekite book, Bless the Child; get farther into Dance the Ghost (With Me); which won first place in the LDSstorymakers general fiction category by the by and start some work on some short stories for some e-zines. The plate is full, plus I've still got to find some work that will pay right now.