Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Strange Sights of the Week

It is good to have Pulp-Ridden options.

This would draw my kids like moths to a flame.
This say's what I'm thinking so well.

HA! One of my favorite musical groups since I was in high school and still a favorite to write too, and now even a law office in tribute with the tagline of one of their best songs.

I almost always have some form of facial hair, but would have to generally concede the road to most other beards. I haven't been truly grizzly since I thought I was going to Afghanistan. Lucky for them.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rediscovery & or bear with Me-I am going somewhere with this

In my last post I mentioned my kinship to some of Ernest Hemingway's works, it wasn't always like that.
High School English was my first taste of "Papa", that and many other "classics". I use the term loosely because near as I can recollect I hated them and had no taste for anything I was forced into reading and over analyzing in Mr. Grant's stuffy sophomore English class.
I'm talking Ethan Frome = I loathed this. My synopsis, cheating on your wife in New England then attempting suicide by sled, failing and being cared for by said wife = suck.
I laugh aloud in a favorite movie of mine-GROSS POINT BLANK, when the main character bumps into his former high school English teacher and asks if she is still inflicting all the Ethan Frome damage? No, its been dropped from the curriculum. = hilarious.
The Good Earth as above, this one did nothing for me, reprehensible characters struggling do not make me care.
Great Expectations I had them-but was sorely disappointed.
and finally
The Old Man and the Sea
What I especially recall was Mr. Grant beating into our brains the symbolism of the Old Man, the Fish, the Sharks and the Sea. I have since purged myself of anything he told me in that class, but I do recall the miserable feeling and general distaste for "Classics" it gave me.
As a writer NOW, I look back and wonder at the disservice Mr. Grant did me and everyone else he taught. His dogmatic bombardment of Montana public-school English status quo rather than appreciation for literature, damned me from reading Literature for enjoyment for about ten years.
Yes, I still read but it was mostly non-fiction or comic books.
Yes, you can argue I made that choice, but I'm not here to discuss existentialism and free will, I am talking about the outside stimuli that turned me away from enjoying fiction.
This will probably boil over into being another post, but fiction matters.
It feeds the soul.
We can be exposed to brilliant insights from fictitious character's that will never mean as much coming from the scruffy guy living in the basement with a lawn that desperately needs mowing (i.e. Me)

I turned back to fiction when I decided that if I had to choose anything I really wanted to do it was writing. I always wanted to write but dreamt I would save it for when I was old and grey.
But you can't put dreams in a cage and expect them to soar.
I came back to the classics's on my own to rediscover Literature and KNOW for myself what came before and why it mattered.
And I found I truly enjoyed a lot of classics, that I would have shunned only a few years before-case in point Hemingway.

In a letter to Bernard Berenson, Hemingway writes- "There isn't any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The sharks are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know."

Damn, I wish I had that quote back in Mr. Grant's stuffy sophomore English class.

Thanks to commenter Vicki Rocho for inspiring this rant. Like Jackson Browne said and I'm paraphrasin' "I had to write a blog post to see how I felt about a thing."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Visiting Hemingway

Once I found out Hemingway was buried in my veritable backyard, I had to visit. Backyard by my terms meaning only a 6 or 7 hour drive away. I have put my foot down all over North America and thus this really didn't seem that far away.

I was already in Montana for my brothers graduation and the return trip home through Idaho could be reconfigured. Instead of the usual left hand way home, I took the right at Salmon Idaho, toward Ketchum, following the river along highway 93.

Up and down jagged mountains. It was beautiful, fair weather with a scattering of clouds kaleidoscopicing sunbeams all day. Going up the last staggering mountain, the gas tank went from a quarter tank to empty. Once we reached the summit and came down the tank returned to quarter full and the gaslight went dim.

We found ourselves in a wondrous green valley. A sign said Ketchum 2 miles, but I could see nothing but trees. Then rounding a bend, multitudes of fancy homes spread before us. It was a yuppie paradise. I imagined Hemingway rolling over in his grave at the sight of some of these fancy-pants shops and foo-foo emporiums.

It didn't take long driving the main road to find the cemetery. Pulling up close to the gate, the place was deserted. I was glad, I wanted this to be personal and private. It is not a very big cemetery, maybe 100 yards by 300 yards, but it had some cool pines and lush grass.

I had little trouble finding the grave site, they were near the center under the pines. Big marble slabs, his wife and son and a few others nearby. I felt the polished stone, read its simple inscription and reflected.

I didn't need to be here to feel close to him. His books did that already, the kinship in similar perspectives on life. But I wanted to come here as a tribute of my appreciation, to pay my respects for his work.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Katy Perry vs. Elmo

Sesame Street pulled this. Personally, I'm more disturbed when my kids come to me, begging to start recycling everything.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Writing Life

Sometimes when you lead such a grueling writing life as I, you need to take a break and recharge the batteries. I do so by getting out and mingling with the people, or fans as they prefer to be called. I usually accomplish this by signing books for said fans.I had a lot of fun with Tristi Pinkston and Daron Fraley this last time out-I was even blessed with having so many people who already had my book that none needed to come out and get any this time.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vintage Ads: Are these Sexist?

Well, she didn't even try to cook it yet.
The Interweb? Is that still around too?
This isn't like my local library at all.
You can't handle the soup.
Were there any Ad-Women back then?
Maybe this was in a National Geographic?
Census Takers? Maybe in an adult film.
You just can't find these anymore. And with good cause.
Yes...It is.
Wish I knew what this was.
Wonder why this didn't take off.
Who is buying this fabric, and why?
Jennie's social life kinda took a nose dive after this one.

Could this be any more messed up?

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Stone Traveler: Book Review

The Stone Traveler by Kathi Oram Peterson, is an LDS YA time-travel adventure. It begins a few years from now, drops back almost two thousand years, and returns to the future.

Lost yet?


Kathi is guiding a travelogue through the realms visited by Stone Traveler on her blog HERE.

I'm kind of excited, I think my place is the first glimpse of the wicked city of Jacobugath, you'll get on the tour.

A reward for following her on the entire blog journey, visiting and commenting on all the stops are weekly prizes-and a grand prize of a kindle. Fear not, you can play catch up on the previous sites and you have until the 30th.

Comment like you read my review too.

So my review.
We follow two main characters- Sabirah, a young woman from millennia ago and Tag Quincy, a teen from the not too distant future. Tag has probably about two thirds of the book, but most of the time they are together you see different views on one situation. Tag usually being the fish out of water in a fantastical ancient-american landscape.
Behind the time-travel adventure arc lies the familial issues that each one must face. I like that the way Kathi has her characters act and react-it felt real, no matter when you are from.
It's good because I don't believe people as individuals have really changed, society and customs sure, but we all feel love and loss the same way.
And with the characters dealing with loss AND overcoming it, I think makes this is a great book to be both entertained and think about.
I suspected the answers to Tag's problems a little early on, but that won't take away from the book at all for anyone.
I did think it started a little slow with Tag and I didn't really like him at first-being more interested in Sabirah-but that only helped for Tag's character growth.
I would have liked to have seen a little more with the villains-but I'm just that type of guy.
I'm sure this is a book my kids will enjoy when they are a little older.

Zouche Jaguar God of Jacobugath

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Revision and Frazetta

I have a number of stories waiting to be sent out to various prospective markets-some have been previously rejected and some of have only been read by a handful of people-either way, before I send them out I am going to give them another once over or two. Do what I can to make them shine brighter, sharpen the sword blades a bit and let the crimson steam a little hotter.
I don't want to get hung up rewriting everything but let some amount of revision light that fire that inspired the piece in the first place.

Here is a snippet of what David Farland had to say in relation to re-imaginings.

Dave Farland wrote, - "Yet very often, we need to be able to re-imagine a scene. Many professionals may do this on a regular basis. A few years ago, I was at a function in Los Angeles, admiring some of Frank Frazetta’s paintings. I was impressed by the detail and the use of color, and I mentioned to Frank, “You know, these are much better than I remember them from the sixties and seventies.” I pointed out the use of colored washes and lacquers that added depth to the paintings, reinventing the color scheme, and some of the details, and said, “You know, I don’t remember this. Was all of this color lost in the printing process, or have you been working on this?” He smiled, grateful that I had noticed, and said, “Oh, yes, every year or two I’ll think of some way to improve these, and I’ll take out the paints and work on them. I’ll bet that I’ve put months—maybe even a couple of years—into this painting since I did the original.”

It didn’t matter that the paintings had already sold thousands of prints, or that he’d won awards for them. Frank just kept working toward perfection.

I liked his attitude. It makes me want to tear apart an old story and figure out how to make it new."

Here are a couple examples-just in case someone didn't know what a fan of Frazetta I am.

If you aren't already, I would highly recommend signing up for Dave Farland's Kick in the Pants Newsletter.
Quote used by permission.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Big Book Signing Saturday

September 11th, 2010
12:00 - 4:00 pm
Eborn Books
Provo Towne Center, Upper Level, just outside Dillard's

I will be signing books with friends and fellow authors - Tristi Pinkston and Daron D. Fraley.
There will also be some sweets and prize drawings on the hour.

Tristi's mysteries.
Daron's Novel, which I gave a back cover endorsement to.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Books Read Lately

Nail Your Novel, by Roz Morris
This is a must for writers. Roz hates wasting energy. This is a fantastic battle plan for assisting a novelist, gleaned from years of experience. Virtually any situation you may find yourself in is covered, so that you can get the most of your writing time.
She tackles all the aspects and distractions, beginning with - Why people start novels and don't finish, shaping and focusing your inspiration, getting through your first draft, What to do before you rewrite--This was the section that especially spoke to me right now.
The Beat Sheet Game, this is about checking all the story mechanics and guiding you to ask critical questions for the sake of having the most powerful and resonant scenes possible. All in all it helps write a better novel.
Then there is the rewriting section, that guides revision and finally sending your novel out to seek its fortune.
The tips contained are not geared for any genre or style per-se, it's all about technique, craft and confidence.

People of the Jaguar, by Nicholas J. Saunders
How about that? I could not find an image online for the cover and I was too lazy to scan one-so I have one of the pics contained within that itself establishes what the focus is about.
Subtitled, the Living Spirit of Ancient America, this is a historical anthropological look at how ancient Americans viewed that top-notch predator, the jaguar and how it affected their belief structure. While I have read more comprehensive books on the Maya and Aztec, this one focus's on the great cat. The pic I have posted shows a beast with manlike attributes, eating a human heart.
The sorcery and mysticism involved with these legends are rivers of inspiration for a fiction writer.

Taming the Sasquatch, by Lee Nelson
A very brisk read. Nelson opens with what is the end and we are along for the ride in what really happened at the top of the Dam on Deer Creek reservoir, I have to laugh because the scene in the book is somewhere I am personally very familiar with in Utah, and then, get this, where the Sasquatch comes from (in Montana) is another place I am very familiar with, having camped where the Sasquatch lives many times. I sure never noticed one, but it made everything in the book very easy to picture.
It was enjoyable but at the same time nearly everything was just too convenient, I would have liked a tad more suspension of disbelief-and this is coming from a guy that as Fox Mulder says, "I want to believe."

Batman: Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul, by Grant Morrison and Paul Dini
I gotta say I love the character of Batman, one of my absolute favorite comic characters (along with Wolverine) and I love other Batman graphics that these guys have worked on DETECTIVE for one, but something about this one wasn't quite right. I was excited for the concept-one of Batman's best villains coming back from the grave but the execution here was a little weak. Things jumped around and were never clear to the audience and not in a good way either. Flashbacks gave snippets of information about things we have no way of knowing enough about to care. A new character was introduced that didn't make a lick of sense in the first place, one of those guys where we are supposed to accept he has always been there-you just never noticed him before? Come on.
So it wasn't bad, but it wasn't nearly as good as the other Bat books I have read the last few years.

Sword of Shannara, by Terry Brooks
I have put off reading Brooks for years because I wasn't interested in someone aping Tolkien-at least that's what I always heard he did. I had to laugh over how much Lin Carter* raged against Brooks in The Years Best Fantasy 4, the collection that came out the same year as the Silmarillion and Conan of Aquilonia.
So while I own a copy of SoS (my library is vast...vast) I haven't really wanted to pick it up.
Then I was working with some friends a couple days, who wanted to listen to an audiobook-that's cool, I love audiobooks. What do they have? Sword of Shannara.
I have listened to at least 6 or 7 hours of Brooks and I'm done. Everything was as I suspected a twist on Tolkien, every single concept. Oh and can the guy Al-Anon (Alcoholics Anonymous?) do anything without it being labeled "mockingly"?
I kinda hoped it would be better than I expected, but NO. My friends assured me that the books later in the sprawling series are better, but I don't have the time.

* Thanks Lagomorph Rex

Monday, September 6, 2010

Interviewed by Linda Weaver Clarke

I get interviewed by author Linda Weaver Clarke on her blog here today. And there is an autographed book giveaway involved, so if you are so inclined...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Anniversary Darlin

Happy Anniversary Darlin Hard to believe it's been eight years already. Time flies. Thank you for being there and encouraging my dreams. I love you.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Trends: Who Gives a Rip?

I always notice people talking about trends in regards to writing and what's hot. I say who gives a fig? That's still kinder than how some agents have spoken to friends of mine who asked that very question, but you get the idea.

These agents were right though, its not about what's hot because if you aren't writing from the heart and telling the best story possible-who is ever gonna care? Let alone you have to write the story well too.
I am convinced that when you try too hard to be cutting edge or what is hot at the moment, the soup du-jour as it were, all you do is make your art look dated-and thereby making it irrelevant shortly thereafter. You don't want that do you?

So when it comes to trends, I am convinced you have to be a leader and not a follower. Can you name any follower who is better known than the leader of any genre? I can't.
Stephen King lamented in On Writing any book with "In the Tradition of..." upon their cover. I can tell you right now that I own a passel of books with "In the tradition of Conan" on their lurid pulpy covers and the only thing I remember about any of them is the cover-the stories aren't up to par. At one time S&S novels were very hot and people jumped on it. Now its Vampires and Steampunk-great.
I wouldn't touch a paranormal romance with a garlic dipped, fifty foot crucifix-it ain't my thing, but how many writers are out there right now trying to sell theirs, because its hot? I'm not saying don't even try but as PYR editorial director Lou Ander's said in a recent interview "You have to be better than brilliant."
That goes for anyone writing anything. I won't write anything if its not from the heart (scary I know).

I say, who cares about following trends-be a leader do something blazingly original.

And I don't wanna hear about everything is taken-we reinvent the wheel all the time-the cycle of what people like always comes back round again eventually, who would have guessed that as Ann Rice waned Meyer would wax so strong with the Dark Side?

In the late 70's who would have thought a quasi fantasy-sci-fi epic would get so big? But it was the right time for a great story that resonated with people. Little things like making it look like a "Used Future" also helped-genius in my book. I think its pretty fair to say, it was quite different from the sci-fi that came before.

And even when it comes to your literary heroes-IF you don't take up the mantle-How will you ever climb from their shadows?

Write what matters to you, write it better than anyone and reinvent the wheel. Be a leader.