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Friday, December 11, 2015

Book Review: Life Lost and Found by A.K. Williams


Have you ever finished reading a book and thought, Man, that main character felt so... real? This is one of those books. I know Madeline Elizabeth Parker. I know her past. I know the terrible things she has gone through. I was there with her, through some of it anyway. As a fly on the wall. No, more than that. More than just an eye-witness. I was a thought-witness. And through the tough experiences she goes through in the book, I longed to reach out and pat her on the back, or give her a hug, share some words of comfort or advice... but I couldn't. So I had to trust the other characters to do it for me.

This story is told from the heart. A.K. Williams delves into some deep darkness everyone has likely felt at some point or another in their lives. But it isn't all sadness. It isn't all about hopelessness. It's about a person becoming more than she was. It's a person discovering for the first time that she is more than just a hate-magnet. A person who is lost, but finds herself.

Treat yourself to this book. It'll have a lasting effect on you. It'll change the way you view yourself, as well as those around you.

Now, Mr. A.K. Williams, I want to know Gina's story.

All proceeds for this book go to charities. Please consider purchasing this book

To find out more about this book and the author, go here! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

2015 Recap

What a year! I got a lot accomplished this year, and it has been... well, FUN! There's never a dull moment at home with a 5 and 2 year old. I got a new job, I was able to walk for my college graduation back last December, and I wrote a 100,000 word novel!

From my nerdy favorite things, several things released this year that made it even more epic. Halo 5, along with several Halo books came out, and the depth of the stories told in that universe have been very enjoyable. Sanderson released the 2nd book in The Reckoners series, Firefight came out, and it's fast-paced awesomeness was... awesome! (Calamity is set to come out February 2016! Yay! Final book in the series!) The 5th Mistborn book, Shadows of Self, came out in October and it did not fail to impress! The next book comes out in January! Next year is looking mighty fine, too!

I spent a ton of my free time writing The Shadow Wielder this year. I completed the first draft 2 weeks into November, during NaNoWriMo. I haven't even looked at it since, which is too bad, because it needs a lot of help. I finished it, and was happy with how things ended, but it needs some major cleanup. Unfortunately, busting out massive word counts usually results in poor writing. At least for me, that is. The good new is, I didn't stop there. I am coming up on the end of the prequel to The Shadow Wielder. It is a much smaller book, more of a novella. But it gives good insight about the chain of events that resulted in bringing the Shadow Wielder to power. So cool! My working title for the novella is Lose to Find. That may or may not change.

Looking at my Goodreads list, I have read 45 books this year! That's the most I've read in any year, at least since I started recording back in 2006. I can't believe I read that many and was still able to write one. To check out what I read in 2015, click here. There were some bad ones, but also some really good ones! You might find something you'd like to read based on my ratings/reviews.

So, what's left this year? Well, I just finished watching The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies Extended Edition along with all 9 hours of special features. Star Wars Episode VII comes out in two weeks! And then it's Christmas and New Years! It's gonna be a fun month, and a good close to 2015. There is much to look forward to in 2016, and a novel to revise and prep for alpha readers! And, the sequel to The Shadow Wielder is waiting to be written.

Friday, October 2, 2015

It's Autumn Time!

Why hello there, little icon on my dock that says "OCT." How does the time fly by? How? I swear, as I get older, time goes faster. It's kinda scary, actually. Almost like Sci-Fi, but more like Sci-Non-Fi. Is that even a thing? .....<Jesse shrugs>..... Well, it is now!

Over the past 9 months, I've been dedicating time to writing The Shadow Wielder, a fantasy novel that has evolved into something very dear to me. I love the characters and people I have created. I feel for their predicaments. I think of them often. And even though I have an outline of the story, I'm not precisely sure what will happen to them. In other novels, strange things have happened, changing the outcome of plots, surprising me... the writer!

So an update. I'm 76,000 words into the novel. For those who don't think of books in terms of words, this roughly translates to 304 pages. Pretty cool! I am about 2 chapters away from finishing part 2 of 3. That means I'm swiftly approaching the climax of my plots. Which is both a lot of fun and a lot of work. Tightening things up and not leaving any plot holes open is hard work. But it is this part that makes writing the other 2 parts worth it... coming to the end!

Distractions are abound, particularly this Autumn time. On Tuesday, October 6th, Brandon Sanderson's next Mistborn novel, Shadows of Self, is being released. After rereading all 4 previous Mistborn books over the past couple of months, I'm all ready for it! On October 27th, Halo 5: Guardians is releasing, so I'll have hours of campaigning on the hardest difficulty in that game. The Halo story is amazing, and I love spending time in it! Ramping up in November is the StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void expansion. Another solid story I love! In December, Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens releases. With all of these awesome distractions, I have the goal to finish The Shadow Wielder in November, and at the very latest, before the end of the year. I do, after all, have a wife and 2 kids I love spending time with, and I refuse to sacrifice that time for ANY reason!

Some food for thought from my most recent chapter in The Shadow Wielder: Sometimes we need to traverse through darkness to find the light. Also, freedom is relative. Breaking free from one form of oppression might lead us into another. Keep your eyes and mind open!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Inspiration Shows


So I took a 2 week break from writing... which isn't a good thing. I had to reread what I had already written to make sure I was being consistent once I started back up again. That being said, I was able to read a couple of books that have been on my to-read shelf for awhile now. It got me thinking how cool it is to glean inspiration from other authors. Last night, I wrote quite a bit, and part of my writing I tried to do something JRR Tolkien loved to do in his writing: creating songs. Brian Jacques, author of the Redwall series, also had a passion for this kind of addition to his novel writing. I got to a point in my story that begged me to follow suit.

I'm 36,000 words in to The Shadow Wielder, and a few of my characters have found themselves upon a ship on the water called "Ol' Slugger." This, of course, called for a sailors song. So here it is, in all of it's glory (the accent has been included in memory of Jacques brilliance):

I ‘ear yer ‘ave a bonnie lass
An’ tha’ yer like ter hug ‘er.
Bu’ I ‘ave one o’ higher class
I love me dear Ol’ Slugger!

Yer lass’ll ‘ave yer watch yer tongue
Bad language’ll nought bu’ bug ‘er.
Bu’ upon this ship yer mouth ‘as no bung
Speak freely while on Ol’ Slugger!

The longer yer spend with yer bonnie lass
The more yer’ll wan’ ter slug ‘er.
Instead o’ fightin’, unfurl the mast
Relaxin’ with good Ol’ Slugger!

An’ when yer lass forever sleeps
Inside the grave yer dug ‘er,
Follow the trail o' tears tha’ yer weeps
Back to me true-blue Ol’ Slugger.

Finding the balance between reading and writing is still an ongoing battle for me. I really try to read in the mornings, and write in the evenings, but sometimes I get too invested in one of those tasks. This is likely something every author deals with, and I'm sure each one has their own way of dealing with it. With Brandon Sanderson's 5th Mistborn book coming out in a few months, I was wanting to go back and reread the series. Hopefully I'll be able to get to it!

Lastly, I wanted to mention a few things about musical inspiration. Movie soundtracks are what do it for me. They help me stay in the zone and help with the overall moods involved in my writing. This past week or so, my son has gotten obsessed with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Can I just say, the song Pure Imagination is simply awesome! One of my favorite things about writing fiction,  particularly Fantasy, is that it literally is a world my creation. Endless possibilities! As much as I have structured The Shadow Wielder, there are scenes that end up surprising me. Characters appear that were not originally planned for. I can't describe how fun such experiences are! So, in conclusion, here are the lyrics to Pure Imagination. Maybe they'll inspire you, too!

Come with me
And you'll be
In a world of
Pure imagination
Take a look
And you'll see
Into your imagination

We'll begin
With a spin
Traveling in
The world of my creation
What we'll see
Will defy

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanna change the world?
There's nothing
To it

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You'll be free
If you truly wish to be

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanna change the world?
There's nothing
To it

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You'll be free
If you truly
Wish to be

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Writing Continues

Six months since my last blog post... wow, that went by fast. A lot has happened to me in that time. I graduated from college, got a sweet promotion at work, and have been writing like crazy. Yesterday, I reached the 25,000 word mark (half of a NaNoWriMo. It's funny to think that the initial draft of my first novel, Core of the Nations, ended around this word count).

I've been a fan of the Fantasy genre for most of my life. It started when I was 7 years old, when my brother introduced me to Brian Jacques Redwall series. Funny, at almost age 30, I'm on book 18 (High Rhulain) of the same series right now. When I was about 10 years old, the same brother introduced me to The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander. I've revisited those 5 books multiple times over the years, and they still have a profound effect over me. When I was 15, my brother finally convinced me to read The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, and my life was changed forever by its depth and brilliance. These days, Brandon Sanderson's novels are the fine dining I attend to as much as possible. The Mistborn series and Stormlight Archive are by far some of the best fantasy collections currently being worked on.

Now, since graduating, I really wanted to dive into writing a Fantasy novel that I've been playing around with in my head for a little while. For some strange reason, I've been terrified of writing in this genre, probably because I have read from so many good authors in the genre I don't feel like I can really contribute much. However, I just decided to go with it, to try it out, and I'm so glad I have done so. But, prior to beginning, I went through some writing training, which was so beneficial.

Brandon Sanderson teaches a Sci Fi/Fantasy course at Brigham Young University. He has all of his lectures from two of these semesters posted on Youtube. I went through them both and it helped me organize my ideas into well thought-out plots, settings, and characters -- all driven behind some awesome conflict. I then read a book called Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Her perspectives really helped me, especially with the concept of first drafts, and how the expectation on quality with them should not be high.

And so, since then, I've managed to populate 25,000 words, a general 25% of my first draft. Things are going well, I'm loving my characters, the locations they go to, the stakes they are up against, and the magic system.

I'm in a writing group, and the feedback I've been receiving from them has been extremely helpful. I had to revise the first 5 chapters quite a bit initially (this is a no-no... just write and get it all out before revising, otherwise, revising is all you'll do!). It took me a while to get through that, and now I'm back to the creation of the story. It's taken me to places I hadn't initially planned for, and the story is stronger for it. The only other set back that knocked me out of writing for a week was all because of Patrick Rothfuss, author of the King Killer Chronicles. I started the first book in February and had to stop reading from its gloriousness because it gave me writers' block. I discovered that this is actually a common phenomenon. Trying to write in the same genre of a book/series you are brand new to can negatively impact your ability to write. Your mind thinks about the other world, the new magic system, everything new, and it interferes with your own world. If you are already familiar with that world, it doesn't have the same effect. So I can read a new Mistborn book without any problems because I'm already familiar with things. Sure, characters and plots are new, but I know the magic system, I know the lay of the land, etc. Interesting phenomenon. Needless to say, I had to put the book down (I will return to it once I finish The Shadow Wielder).

That's it! I'm pumping out a fair amount of words every day. I'm excited with the story. Besides my writing group, I have one person reading through the first drafts of the fist 6 chapters and awaiting feedback. If you are interested in the story, or want to know more, let me know. I'd love to fill you in. Also, just a side note, the prologue in my December blog post has changed quite a bit, but the spirit of my story still sits there, so if you want a taste of what the story is about, go ahead and read it.

Okay, that's it for now. Back to my favorite kind of writing! Cheers!