Thursday, December 23, 2010

Least Favorite Christmas Songs?

It is Christmas week! For many of us we will finally be getting relief from the incessant Christmas music that had been blaring through every story and every other radio station since Halloween. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas music but I have two problems: 1. I love Christmas music but there are songs that I cannot stand, and 2. I pledge to fight Christmas Creep, I do not turn on Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving.

So now after nearly two months of Christmas music I have to ask, what are your least favorite Christmas songs?

This is one of my favorite questions because so many people (including myself) get so upset about it. Lets face it there are some really terrible songs out there! I know that one persons terrible is another person's favorite, but I love that you can bring up this question and turn a room of friends into a bunch of bickering children as each tries to defend their favorites.

While I could list several I will restrain myself to my top three:

3. Christmas Shoes

I think this is the dumbest song, but while I dislike it I don't hate it enough to give it anymore space on this blog.

2. Do They Know its Christmas in Africa

I know that I am attacking a humanitarian aid project and the beloved music icons who came together to form BandAid, but while the intention was good the execution of the song was awful. Sure it is catchy but have you listened to the lyrics? Its like reading the Heart of Darkness, it is arrogant and self indulgent, and shows how little we still understand about these people. And as the song says, "Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you."

As bad as that is, it still does not make me turn off the radio or leave the room like my least favorite song.

1. Last Christmas

Ugh just writing those words makes me sick to my stomach. Again this as a very catching and beautiful song musically, but the lyrics kill it for me. Lets take a look at the narrative in the song:

Last Christmas the singer gave their heart to someone who broke it. Sad yes but things happen in relationships. It does sound like the singer got used instead of the breakup being part of the normal course of a healthy relationship that just is not right, but we don't know that for sure. I mean we only see it from one perspective.

But then we get to the line, "This year to save me from tears I will give it to someone special." Ok, I know that most people want to be with someone special at Christmas, but doesn't it seem that by putting some kind of artificial deadline on finding a relationship the singer is setting his or herself up for failure again? Love and relationships take time so it seems unlikely that the singer is going to find the love that they so desperately seek when they are working on a deadline.

Then the song takes another turn, the singer runs into the person that broke their heart last year and starts entertaining the idea of trying it again this Christmas with the same person. Its assumable this person is good looking, a good kisser and good in bed, all laudable traits, but is that really the only basis of human relationships?

Oh it gets better, as the singer laments how they were hurt, we find out that the singer is IN A RELATIONSHIP. The singer is willing to throw away what is described in future lines as exactly what the singer was looking for. The singer says that they would do to their current partner exactly the same thing that was done to them the year before.

I hate this song. What Christmas songs bother you?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Getting published definately takes luck, but what makes luck?

I am a upbeat, optimistic, and fairly observant person most of the time. I consider myself to be relatively lucky and so I am hopeful that if I am ever disciplined enough to finish my stories, that I will someday get published.

So what about people who are not lucky?

Well there has been some research done on the subject and while some things (like winning the lottery and being in the right place at the right time) cannot really be controlled, there are things that you can do to make yourself more lucky.

First, I found this article on yahoo:

A lucky find huh?

Then, I was in the right place at the right time to have a coworker show me this video:

So do you consider yourself a lucky person? If so keep an eye out for a money tree.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Faces in Weird Places

I see faces in the strangest places. Perhaps it is because I am creative. Perhaps it is because I am ADD and my attention span is...about as long as...what was I talking about? Faces right!

Here are two that I have seen recently:

The first one was pretty easy to see. The second is a bit harder, but inspired me so much that I use it as a visual for one type of creature in my fantasy writing.

Did you see it? Here is a closer look.

These are just two examples. Do you ever see faces around anywhere? I would love to hear about your stories

Monday, December 13, 2010

#NaNoWriMo Results

Well as you can see from the widget on the left side of my blog my attempt to write 50000 words during NaNoWriMo failed. I ended the month with 24385 words. So what happened? I was on pace until I had to work a few overnight shifts at work. This threw off my groove and that was immediately followed by family coming in for thanksgiving. By the time the family left, I have four days to write 25000+ words. I was exhausted and had to go back to work immediately the next day so I was forced to throw in the towel.

In spite of falling short of my goal, I feel very good about what I achieved in NaNoWriMo. I wrote 24000 words in roughly 15 days. I learned that I enjoy writing YA and that I find writing first person easier than writing third person. I learned that when I write I do not have to reinvent the wheel or write the great American novel, I just have to write a story.

I had a wonderful NaNoWriMo experience and I can't wait to do it again next year. Although I may do it in October instead of November.

As for what happened to my NaNoWriMo project. I sent the first 25k to my CP and I am going to try to get to 50k by the end of the year. I will keep you posted.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Am I a Jerd, a Nock, or a Jerk?

I am a weird mix of jock and nerd. I love sports but I also love fantasy. These two things sometimes seem like they cannot or should not coexist. I get pushback form both sides my jock friends cannot understand how I can stand to read and write when I could be playing or watching sports. My nerd friends wonder why I would ever want to leave my temperature controlled office to go run around with a bunch of Neanderthals in the heat, rain, or snow. I am a bad jock because I will turn off a bad game to watch something with my wife or to read or write. I am a bad nerd because I will get so emotionally invested in sports that it can run my day and prevent me from reading or writing.

I suppose I can engage so strongly in both of these cultures because both draw me with the same things: vibrant characters, intense storylines, and intellectual stimulation.

The reason for this post today (not only to get back to writing on this blog, since Thanksgiving broke me of the habit) is to lament the passing of one of the vibrant characters that I had admired for a long time.

He was diagnosed with a deadly and misunderstood disease when he was little more than a child, but kept that knowledge secret as he pursued his dreams. He pushed himself to be the best even though his disease severely limited what might have otherwise been limitless potential. Never bitter but always intense, he reached his career aspiration in spite of his limitations. He fought daily against not only his disease but as word got out about his disease against an unfair stigma even though he was one of the best at what he did. He was a happy person, he was an intense person, he was a fierce competitor who boisterously celebrated victory and angrily rejected any defeat. He was despised by his peers for his passion and success, but he did not stoop to firing back at his critics he let his success speak for him.

Eventually time wore away his greatness and so he left the career he loved. His legend continued to grow and he became like a king and ruled well, trading the trappings and power of office and fame to become a voice for those whom he originally entertained. He did not grow bitter at losing his place of esteem like so many others but instead became the most ardent and joyful supporter of those who came after him.

Yet his two greatest aspirations were denied to him, for he sought for the group that he was associated with to be hailed as the champions and he sought to be rightly acknowledged amongst the best of history in his career. But in a cruel twist of fate, luck and poor management defied him the former, and the peers who had despised him so, blocked his attempts at the latter.

His disease eventually began to destroy his body and he lost both his legs. But still he remained joyful and jubilant, and dutifully continued to represent the people who loved him. Other sickness eventually began to attack his body and today he finally could fight no longer.

Ron Santo died today at the age of 70.

Ron was the great Chicago Cubs player and broadcaster who lived and died with the success and failures of his beloved team. He was a character unlike any that I have found in fiction, and his warmth and passion will be sorely missed. People like Ron are why I can love sports and love fantasy because he could have been a beloved character in a novel just as easily as he was as a beloved sports personality.

To read a less fanciful account of Ron’s life visit my other blog where I delve more into why he meant so much to me. And comeback soon to hear about my NaNoWriMo results!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Teen Fantasy: Percy Jackson and the Olympians The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

B About the Book: Percy Jackson must lead the battle to protect New York.
The King's Ruling: The last of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Last Olympian is an action packed ending to a great series. I give the book and the series an 8 out of 10.
Spoilers (Highlight to View):--->This is not the last we have heard from the Olympians, so be on the lookout for the next series.<---

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teen Fantasy: The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

About the Book: Have you ever wondered why almost every different belief system and mythology have similiar circumstances, similiar monsters, and similiar heroes? Maybe it is because all of the legendary stories of mankind are based on, at least in part, all of the same legends. And what if those legendary heroes, monsters, and legends still lived in secret in the world today? Josh and Sophie, twins from the modern day city of San Francisco are about to find out.

The King's Ruling: A nonstop adventure from page one, the Alchemyst is the first of six books in the The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. As the story is about a fantasy adventure taking place in present day there are moments that the reader must suspend his or her disbelief, but as a whole Michael Scott creates a great fantasy adventure that is accessible to everyone yet still grounded in historical mythology.

Spoilers:--->Even though Josh is the annoying twin I think he may turn out to be the hero of the story. I love the historical characters in this story but the gods seem to be pretty easy to kill off. <---

Monday, November 22, 2010

Teen Romance: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

About the Book: If you do not know what this book is about then you have been living under a rock
The King's Ruling: Chapters 15-22 saved this book from a 1 out of 10. While the first 14 and last 3 chapters were mindless drivel, chapters 15-22 were as compelling as any teen fiction that I have blogged so far. I hope to be writing a piece for the Springfield Greene County Library Teen Thing blog comparing and contrasting Twilight and Harry Potter soon so after I post that I will share it on this blog too.
Spoilers (Highlight to view):--->Edward is a vampire, Jacob is a werewolf, Bella makes it, Edward and Bella fall in love. While I extremely dislike Bella and Edward, I love the Cullens and wish the story was about them.<---

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Teen Manga: Crimson Hero Vol. 1 by Takanashi Mitsuba

About the Book: All Nobara Sumiyoshi wants to do is play vollyball. All that Nobara's wealthy mother wants is for Nobara to follow in the family business. When Nobara goes to play volleyball against her mothers wishes, she finds that the school that she has chosen has quite suddenly eliminated girls volleyball and the boy's volleyball team is determined to keep it gone. How can Nobara convince the school to bring girls volleyball back, and how will she deal with her mother's rejection of her aspirations?

The King's Ruling: Cute, but I found the author's narration of her writing process more engaging than the actual story. I think this series has potential though. Nobara is a spunky heroine who I was cheering for. There is some subtle (and not so subtle) older teen content. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Spoilers (Highlight to View):--->This book seems to follow the typical shojo beat pattern, defy family, deal with shame, meet the mean guy, meet the nice guy, have feelings for both.<---

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Teen Fantasy: The Tapestry Book 1: The Hound of Rowan by Henry H Neff.

About the Book: Max McDaniels is just an ordinary kid, sure his dad works a little too much and talks like his dead mom is still alive, but that is his dad's issue not his. Max's life has not been easy he has had to deal with the loss of his mom and bullies, but his is just a regular kid. Or he was...until his trip to the art museum where he is chased by a strange man with one eye and he finds an old tapestry that no one else can see. This puts him on a path to adventure that will change his life forever.

The King's Ruling: Part Harry Potter, part Lightning Thief, the Hound of Rowan is a fun romp through Irish mythology. The characters are interesting and Max is a wonderful hero. The plot drags a little at times and sometimes the story seems to jump, but all in all I really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to the next one. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Spoilers (highlight to view):--->I hope that Ronan has a much larger role in the second book, he is like the second coming of Sirius Black<---

Friday, November 19, 2010

#deathlyhallows Review (Spoiler Alert) #RIPDobby

So Greenbeanteenqueen and I went to the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last night, and I have to say it was awesome. I have never been so impressed with a Harry Potter film since the first two, and since I did not get into Harry Potter until after those movies I have never up until this morning left a theater feeling satisfied after a Potter Movie.

We dressed up as Lupin and Tonks as we did for the book 7 release, but our costumes were a bit half hearted this time due to lack of time and money restrictions. There were a lot of people dressed up at the movies but none of the fantastic costumes we had seen at previous movies.

The movie itself surpassed all my expectations. Yes, if you have not read the book you might get a little lost with all of the hows and whys of the story. Yes, by itself this movie is nothing special (meaning if it did not have a book series backing it up it would not stand alone). Yes, it ends on a cliffhanger and it has some pacing issues during between the capture of the locket and the trip to Godric's Hollow. But that does not change the fact that the movie stayed true to the book and had vast majority of everything that I wanted to see from part one. And yes Dobby's death is just as poignant a moment as it is in the book.

Rupert and Emma are fantastic, I think they really nailed the Ron/Hermione dynamic in this one (Particularly Emma)
Voldemort is amazing
Nagini is terrifying
Dobby is just perfect
They ended part one at what I think is the best possible spot.
I felt like the movie ended too soon and would have been happy to stay for another two and a half hours and watch part two
The scope is much more epic and the emotions more raw
So much action
The courtroom seen and its aftermath was wonderful
The story of the three brothers could not have been more well done
Bathelda Bagshot was super creepy
The Bellatrix/Hermione interrogation was great.

Scrimgeour is too nice
Potter Watch is replaced by an ongoing newscast in the background that has important information but is more distracting than helpful
The Harry/Hermione dance/near kiss was superfluous
Harry never tells Ron that he does not have feelings for Hermione
I wanted Harry to realize that when he was in the ministry he was someone important
Bill's introduction was awkward
Tonks and Lupin's baby was hinted at but was never explicitly stated
They never showed Dobby's grave
They showed but never explained the name taboo on Voldemort

This movie was awesome. I want to go back and see it again today. I don't think I will, but I will see it in theaters at least one more time. I can't wait for part 2

Teen Fiction: Notes From The Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick

About the Book: Sixteen year old Alex Gregory is forced to learn some hard lessons after getting drunk, crashing his mom's car, and destroying a neighbor's lawn gnome. After losing his licence and being sentanced to 100 hours of community service Alex learns is true sentance, he must learn about life, relationships, and himself
The King's Ruling: A sweet story that is kind of a teen version of Tuesdays with Morrie. This book has a little bit of everything but a lot of heart. I give it 5 out of 10.
Spoilers (Highlight to view):--->I love gnomes<---

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Teen Fiction: Born to Rock by Gordon Korman

About the Book: Leo Carraway is everything a young republican is supposed to be. Intelligent, articulate, and about to attend Harvard on a full-ride scholarship. What could go possibly go wrong? Well, if a full body cavity search is any indication...everything

The King's Ruling: This book was a fun read with a nice twist. Korman sets the standard for contemporary teen fiction. I give the book a 5 out of 10. It was fun and interesting but not did not leave me wanting more.

Spoilers (Highlight to View): --->I love King Maggot's character and I kept thinking that Korman was taking shots at the Rolling Stones.<---

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Teen Manga: Fantamir by Eun-Jin Seo

About the Book: Fantamir is the story of Mir, a magical priestess who loses her powers and so chooses to attempt to become just a regular student at a very unusual and very special private school.

The King's Ruling: Just when I was starting to accept the idea of reading Manga backwards this one comes along and is read in the American style. While the story was creative, the author leaves much of the story unsaid making the reader infer more of the content than what is actually written in the book. I give it a 3 out of 10.

Spoilers (highlight to read): --->While the school's ties to her family is interesting, I will not be continuing with this series<---

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teen Fantasy: Nightmare Academy: Monster Hunters by Dean Lorey

About the Book: Charlie Benjamin is not a normal kid. When he goes to sleep and has a nightmare, terrible things tend to happen to the people around him. Because of these disasters Charlie is forced to be an outcast, living in an underground house with his parents so that he can never be a danger to the other normal children around him. One night however Charlie's nightmares threaten the life of both him and his parents and Charlie is forced to make a decision about his future that will change is life, and perhaps the world, forever.
The King's Ruling: Part Harry Potter, part Men in Black, and part Monsters Inc. on steroids, Nightmare Academy: Monster Hunters is an exciting and vivid read that explores what really happens in your nightmares. Lorey creates an imaginative world that even the most reluctant reader can relate to. With a movie in the works and the second of what looks to be a three part series on the shelves this a an action packed franchise that I expect to hear big things from in the future. I give this book an 8 out of 10 and I can't wait for the next one.
Spoilers (Highlight to read): --->There are no spoilers for this book although I want to know who the 5th is.<---

Monday, November 15, 2010

#NaNoWriMo Update and HP Answers

I have failed today. I barely got in 150 words. My dogs got me up at 4:45 this morning and I am just not right to write. Hopefully I can pick up the slack tomorrow. Here are the HP answers that I promised:

Easy: Who is the Potions Master?-Snape
Easy: What was the last Christmas present Harry opened?- His father’s invisibility cloak
Easy: What did Hagrid name his Norwegian Ridgeback?-Norbert
M-When Harry asks the Dursley’s the question ‘How did I get my scar?’ what did they tell him?-Car Accident
Medium: Who is the Gryffindor house ghost?- Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington aka Nearly Headless Nic
Medium: Who is the Gryffindor Quidditch captain?-Oliver Wood
H-What year was Hagrid in when he was expelled from Hogwarts?-Third year
Hard: What is the first password for Gryffindor tower?- Caput Draconis
H-How many Knuts do you need to make a Sickle?-29
Ridiculously Hard: What kind of wood was Tom Riddle/Voldemort’s wand?-Yew
Ridiculously Hard: When does Harry study the night skies?- Wednesdays, at midnight
Ridiculously Hard: What does troll boogers look like?-Lumpy Gray Glue
Easy: What is Dobby?-House Elf
Easy: Which Quidditch team does Ron support?- The Chudley Cannons
Easy: How did Ron and Harry get to Hogwarts?- In Mr. Weasley flying Ford Angelina
Medium: What store did Harry end up in when trying to get to Diagon Ally?- Borgin and Burkes
Medium: How many times in a row has Gilderoy Lockhart won Witch Weekly’s Most-Charming-Smile Award?-5 Times
Medium: What item of clothing set Dobby free?-A Sock
Hard: What did Dobby have to do when he got home because he went to see Harry?- Shut his ears in the oven door
Hard: How many times did Filch make Ron buff the Quidditch cup? -14
Hard: Why does Ron not like spiders?- Fred turned Ron’s teddy bear into a spider when he was little
Ridiculously Hard: What book hit Mr. Malfoy’s eye when he and Mr. Weasley were brawling?- Encyclopedia of Toadstools
Ridiculously Hard: In what book does Gilderoy Lockhart say that his favorite color is lilac?-The Year with the Yeti
Ridiculously Hard: When did Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington (Nearly Headless Nick) die?-October 31, 1492
Easy: Who is the new Care of Magical Creatures teacher?-Rebeus Hagrid
Easy: What happened to Harry’s Nimbus Two Thousand?-It Flew into the Whomping Willow
Easy: What did Trelawney see in Harry’s cup?-The Grim
Medium: What did Hagrid give Harry for his birthday?- The Monster Book of Monsters
Medium: How many people did Sirius Black kill with one curse?-13
Medium: What creature is Buckbeak?-hippogriff
Hard: What school did Vernon say Harry went to?- St. Brutus’s Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys
Hard: What potion has Snape been making Lupin?-The Wolfsbane Potion
Hard: What were the third years learning in Divination the day Hermione left?-Crystal Gazing
Ridiculously Hard: How many mph does the Firebolt go and in how many seconds?- 150 mph in 10 seconds
Ridiculously Hard: What classes did Hermione have at nine o’clock on the first day of school?- Divination, Muggle Studies, and Arithmancy
Ridiculously Hard: Where was the Fat Lady hiding?- In a map of Argyllshire
Easy: Who was the gardener for the Riddle House?-Frank Bryce
Easy: How does Bill style his hair?-He puts it in a ponytail
Easy: Who did the Weasleys Harry and Hermione meet at the portkey?-The Diggorys
Medium: Why did Dudley have to go on a diet?- The school outfitters didn’t stock knickerbockers big enough for him
Medium: What were the Bulgarian mascots?-Veela
Medium: How many hands does the Weasley’s clock have?-9
Hard: What are people who work for the Department of Mysteries called?-Unspeakables
Hard: What book had Professor Moody lent Neville?- Magical Water Plants of the Mediterranean
Hard: Who are all the judges for the Triwizard Tournament?- Professors Dumbledore and Karkaroff, Madam Maxime, Ludo Bagman, and Mr. Crouch
Ridiculously Hard: What hill was the portkey on?-Stoatshead Hill
Ridiculously Hard: How many years had it been since Britain hosted the Quidditch World Cup?-30 years
Ridiculously Hard: How many people does the Quidditch World Cup stadium hold?-100,000
Easy: Who founded the Order of the Pheonix?-Dumbledore
Easy: What did Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister look like?-She looked like a toad
Easy: What did Harry and Dudley meet in the ally?-Dementors
Medium: What is a Metamorphmagus?- A person who can change their appearance at will
Medium: What is Sirius’s brother’s name?-Regulus
Medium: Who told the prophesy about Harry and Voldemort?- Sybil Trelawney
Hard: Where was the headquarters for the Order of Phoenix?- Number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London
Hard: What is Kreacher’s life ambition?- To have his head cut off and stuck up on a plaque like his mother
Hard: What is Dumbledore’s full name?- Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
Ridiculously Hard: What did Mrs. Weasley find under the couch in the drawing room?- A nest of dead puffskeins
Ridiculously Hard: What are heliopaths and who do they work for according to Luna Lovegood?- They’re spirits of fire that work for Fudge
Ridiculously Hard: What kind of charm did Hermione put on the fake Galleons? - A Protean Charm
Easy: What kind of vow did Snape and Narcissa make? –An Unbreakable Vow
Easy: Who is Bill getting married to?-Fleur Delacour
Easy: Who previously owned Harry’s potion book?-The Half Blood Prince
Medium: Where did Harry tell Kreature to go?-Hogwarts
Medium: What did Horace Slughorn disguise himself as?-an oversized armchair
Medium: What language (besides English) can the Gaunt’s speak? –Parseltounge
Hard: What store’s merchandise is banned from Hogwarts?-Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes
Hard: What did Hermione send flying toward Ron?-Charmed Birds
Hard: Why did Ron fail his Apparation test?-He left half an eyebrow behind
Ridiculously Hard: What was the name of the vampire Harry met at Slughorn’s party?-Sanguini
Ridiculously Hard: What was Herbert Chorley doing when he was under the Imperius Curse?-Quacking
Ridiculously Hard: What was the matron’s name at the orphanage Tom Riddle was raised?
Easy: How is everyone turning into Harry going to turn into Harry?-Polyjuice Potion
Easy: Which twin lost his ear?-George
Easy: What is Tonk’s and Lupin’s baby’s name?-Teddy
Medium: What subject did Charity Burbage teach at Hogwarts?-Muggle Studies
Medium: Who is writing a book about Albus Dumbledore?-Rita Skeeter
Medium: What did Dumbledore leave Hermione in his will?-His copy of Tales of Beedle the Bard
Hard: What is Lucius Malfoy’s Patronus?-a Peacock
Hard: Where did Hermione get books that had information on Horcruxes?- She summoned them from Dumbledore’s office before leaving Hogwarts
Hard: Who was with Ted Tonks, Dirk, and the two Goblins on the run? –Dean Thomas
Ridiculously Hard: What did Hermione put on Ron’s wounds?- ‘Essence of Dittany’
Ridiculously Hard: What did Rita Skeeter give Bathilda to tell her stories about the Dumbledores?- Veritaserum
H.-What are the Deathly Hallows?-The elder wand, the resurrection stone, and the invisibility cloak
Ridiculously Hard: What do you have to dial in the red telephone booth to reach the Ministry of Magic-62442
Hard: Who is in the cell in the Malfoy Manor?- Mr. Ollivander, Luna, Dean, Ron, Harry, and Griphook
Hard: What did Dobby’s grave say?- ‘Here lies Dobby, a free elf.’

Teen Christian: The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson

About the Book: The Door Within chronicles the adventures of Aiden Thomas within a magical alternate reality known as "The Realm". Aiden is enlisted to fight against the forces of evil and help the Glimpse (the humanoid alteregos of real people) decide to side with King Eliam, the Godlike king of Alleble.

The King's Ruling: I went in hoping for C.S. Lewis and came out disappointed with a the Book of Revelation with some of the names changed. If you do not want to have to think about a story and just enjoy obvious biblical parallel this book and series (The Door Within is book 1 of a 3 part series) is for you. While there was some imagination to the story and Batson creates a world of great beauty contrasted with supreme evil, he largely sacrifices the quality of the plot for an emphasis on his message. I give this book a 2 out of 10.

Spoilers(Highlight to read):--->If you have ever read any of the bible, then there is nothing that I could spoil for you in this book<---

Sunday, November 14, 2010

#NaNoWriMo Day 14 and the HP trivia questions

Today I wrote 1691 words for a total of 23550 for the month.

Here are the Harry Potter Trivia questions that we used. I will post the answers tomorrow. Good Luck!

Book 1
Who is the Potions Master?
What was the last Christmas present Harry opened?
What did Hagrid name his Norwegian Ridgeback?
When Harry asks the Dursley’s the question ‘How did I get my scar?’ what did they tell him?
Who is the Gryffindor house ghost
Who is the Gryffindor Quidditch captain?
What year was Hagrid in when he was expelled from Hogwarts?
What is the first password for Gryffindor tower?
How many Knuts do you need to make a Sickle?
What kind of wood was Tom Riddle/Voldemort’s wand?
When does Harry study the night skies?
What does troll boogers look like?

Book 2
What is Dobby?
Which Quidditch team does Ron support?
How did Ron and Harry get to Hogwarts?
What store did Harry end up in when trying to get to Diagon Ally?
How many times in a row has Gilderoy Lockhart won Witch Weekly’s Most-Charming-Smile Award?
What item of clothing set Dobby free?
What did Dobby have to do when he got home because he went to see Harry?
How many times did Filch make Ron buff the Quidditch cup?
Why does Ron not like spiders?
What book hit Mr. Malfoy’s eye when he and Mr. Weasley were brawling
In which of his books does Gilderoy Lockhart say that his favorite color is lilac?
When did Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington die?

Book 3
Who is the new Care of Magical Creatures teacher?
What happened to Harry’s Nimbus Two Thousand?
What did Trelawney see in Harry’s cup?
What did Hagrid give Harry for his birthday?
How many people did Sirius Black kill with one curse?
What creature is Buckbeak?
What school did Vernon say Harry went to?
What potion has Snape been making Lupin?
What were the third years learning in Divination the day Hermione left?
How many mph does the Firebolt go and in how many seconds?
What classes did Hermione have at nine o’clock on the first day of school?
Where was the Fat Lady hiding?

Book 4
Who was the gardener for the Riddle House?
How does Bill style his hair?
Who did the Weasleys Harry and Hermione meet at the portkey?
Why did Dudley have to go on a diet?
What were the Bulgarian mascots?
How many hands does the Weasley’s clock have?
What are people who work for the Department of Mysteries called?
What book had Professor Moody lent Neville?
Who are all the judges for the Triwizard Tournament?
What hill was the portkey on?
How many years had it been since Britain hosted the Quidditch World Cup?
How many people does the Quidditch World Cup stadium hold?

Book 5
Who founded the Order of the Pheonix?
What did Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister look like?
What did Harry and Dudley meet in the ally?
What is a Metamorphmagus?
What is Sirius’s brother’s name?
Who told the prophesy about Harry and Voldemort?
Where was the headquarters for the Order of Phoenix?
What is Kreacher’s life ambition?
What is Dumbledore’s full name?
What did Mrs. Weasley find under the couch in the drawing room?
What are heliopaths and who do they work for according to Luna Lovegood?
What kind of charm did Hermione put on the fake Galleons?

Book 6
What kind of vow did Snape and Narcissa make?
Who is Bill getting married to?
Who previously owned Harry’s potion book?
Where did Harry tell Kreature to go?
What did Horace Slughorn disguise himself as?
What language (besides English) can the Gaunt’s speak?
What store’s merchandise is banned from Hogwarts?
What did Hermione send flying toward Ron?
Why did Ron fail his Apparation test?
What was the name of the vampire Harry met at Slughorn’s party?
What was Herbert Chorley doing when he was under the Imperius Curse?
What was the matron’s name at the orphanage Tom Riddle was raised?

Book 7
How is everyone turning into Harry going to turn into Harry?
Which twin lost his ear?
What is Tonk’s and Lupin’s baby’s name?
What subject did Charity Burbage teach at Hogwarts?
Who is writing a book about Albus Dumbledore?
What did Dumbledore leave Hermione in his will?
What is Lucius Malfoy’s Patronus?
Where did Hermione get books that had information on Horcruxes?
Who was with Ted Tonks, Dirk, and the two Goblins on the run?
What did Hermione put on Ron’s wounds?
What did Rita Skeeter give Bathilda to tell her stories about the Dumbledores?
What are the Deathly Hallows?

What do you have to dial in the red telephone booth to reach the Ministry of Magic?
Who are prisoners in the cell in the Malfoy Manor?
What did Dobby’s grave say?

Teen Horror: 666: The Number Of The Beast by Various Authors

About the Book: 666 is a compilation of several horror authors short stories.
The King's Ruling: While it was nice to get a quick overview of the genre, the stories themselves were less than terrifying with some bordering on the inane. There were two great short stories, with the rest ranging from average to lame. I give it a 4 out of 10.
Spoilers (highlight to view): --->
Channel 99 by Peter Abrahams (Lame)
The legend of Anna Barton by Laurie Faria Stolarz (outstanding)
Saving face by Christopher Pike (average)
The little sacrifice by Joyce Carol Oates (lame)
If you knew Suzie by Heather Graham (better than average)
Slam dance by Bentley Little (less than average)
A trick of the light by Chet Williamson (less than average)
Erased by Jane Mason (less than average)
Empire of dirt by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Average)
Incident report by Joshua Gee (less than average)
Scapegoat by Robin Wasserman (average)
Imagining things by T.E.D. Klein (outstanding)
Grandma Kelly by David Moody (less than average)
Shelter Island by Melissa de la Cruz (average)
La fleur de nuit by P.D. Cacek (less than average)
Ever after by Isobel Bird (less than average)
Haunted by Ellen Schreiber (better than average)
Wolfsbane by Sarah Hines Stephens (less than average) <---

Saturday, November 13, 2010

#NaNoWriMo and Harry Potter

Today I wrote 1718 words for a total of 21759 for the month.

Earlier today I got to be a judge at a Happy Potter trivia contest. There were 84 questions asked and the winning team got 68.5 out of 84. The questions were pretty hard, and I will try to post them to see if you would be able to beat the winning team. But I have to say it was a blast and there was a huge turnout. It is nice to see that the books are still popular, because I flat out love them.

Teen Fiction: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

About the Book: Junior, who is a budding cartoonist leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. He must learn to deal with racism from his kids at new school, claims that he is turning is back on his people from kids on the reservation, and making and succeeding on his new school's basketball team.

The King's Ruling: This would be a really fun story if it did not so accurately reflect the state that many native americans find themselves in today. Junior is very funny and the cartoons add a bit of humor to a bleak portrayal of Junior's life. This book is appropriate for any teen and I give it a 7 out of 10.
Spoilers (highlight to see)--->Junior's growth as a basketball player seems a bit exagerated, and this book would have gotten a 9 if its protrayal of native american life was not so accurate. (which i hate to say but its the truth)<---

Friday, November 12, 2010

#NaNoWriMo and sleeping

Hello everyone!

Sorry that I did not get a post up yesterday. I had to work late and then when I sat down to write everything seemed forced and not very good. I was telling and not showing what was going on so I decided that since I was a day ahead on NaNo I would take the day off from writing and come back fresh today.

Yes I came back strong today. I wrote 1684 words today and finished with a total of 20041 so far for the month.

I have found that I have been falling asleep while I have been writing lately. Does this happen to anyone else? I know that I have not been getting enough sleep, but I never thought I would be able to write while dozing.

Teen Historical Fiction: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson

About the Book: Who Cares.

The Teen King Says: I rarely put down any book. But I had to put this one down. Not because it was offensive, but it was just too slow and I didn't care for the characters. I am a huge history fan and I enjoy the American Revolutionary period particularly, but this book could not keep me interested. I found myself reading the same line over and over again. Sorry Octavian fans, but to me this one gets a 1 out of 10.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taken from the pages of the GreenBeanTeenQueen

Here is a guest blog I wrote for GreenBeanTeenQueen's blog:

In honor of it being Audio book Friday, I have chosen to review the Audio books for Harry Potter series. (I love the British adult covers for the Harry Potter books, so that is why I have used them as the picture rather than the American covers. Although I have to say that Mary GrandPre does a wonderful job on the cover art on the American covers as well.)Now I know that this series is old news by now and most of us have found out Harry’s ultimate fate already, but what most people do not know is that the Audio books performed by Jim Dale are some of the best ever made.

About the books: This series chronicles the story of Harry Potter, a orphaned British boy with a lightning shaped scar on his forehead who discovers that he is a wizard. Harry, who is a famous hero in the secret “wizarding world”, leaves his muggle (non-wizard) family to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As he makes his way through a world of magic that he never knew existed, Harry discovers that his fate is somehow entwined with Lord Voldemort, the most evil wizard to have ever lived.

Andy says: J.K. Rowling crafts a masterful story and Jim Dale’s execution of over 400 different character voices are a joy to listen to. Jim Dale’s dulcet tones describing Rowling’s vibrant characters and majestic backdrop weaves its own spell around the listener. My only criticism is that Dale’s voices for the young female characters still sound a bit masculine. However, the whole of his performance more than makes up for this one shortcoming. I give these audio books 10 out of 10 and I cannot wait to listen to them with my children. And because I can’t wait I will get them from the library again soon.

I would love to hear what you think about Jim Dale's performance. Please put any comments below.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#NaNoWriMo results and YA Characters as a Metaphor for Teens

I am very pleased with my writing today. Not only did I write about the pain of loss but I wrote 2043 words which puts me at a total of 18357 so far this month.

I am still thinking about a perfect name for my main character. Part of my problem with giving my main character in my NaNoWriMo project a name is I want him to be able to be a metaphorical stand in for any teen reading this story if they so choose.

My goal of perhaps having a nameless main character is to give the reader an easy path to turning the character into themselves. I want the to consider what they would do if they were presented with these challenges. However I want this project to also be fun and engaging for the reader without the reader having to put him or her self into the book if they do not want to. I find is to be a stimulating line to walk.

Does this idea even make sense, or do I just need to get out of my head and just enjoy telling the story?

Which leads me to another thought.
Do you think that it is wrong to use YA books and characters to push morality?

I am not writing this story with an agenda per say but I can see where someone could take the ultimate "lesson" of my story to be that, 1. there are consequences for your actions and you have to take responsibility for them, 2. that sometimes restrictions are in place for a reason, and 3. that just because you are born a certain way or just because other have placed certain expectations on you does not mean that you have to be prisoner to circumstance. You are free to make your own choices and be who you want to be.

So what do you think?

Do you think that YA characters are stand in for teens to allow them to process difficulties of everyday life? Do you push any specific morality in your writing?

Teen Science Fiction: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

About the Book: Katniss Everdeen a 16 year old girl who does what she needs to do to help her family survive in a post apocolyptic world that used to be North America. When her younger sister is selected to participate as a tribute in the brutal hunger games Katniss volunteers to put her own life on the line in a contest where there can only be one survivor.

The Teen King's Ruling: While I did not love this book I definately liked it. I worried through the whole book if the ending would live up to the rest of the story. The first book of a trilogy, Hunger Games is a light read than never the less has some graphic descriptions. Suzanne Collins creates a believable and engaging world that is laden with suspences and excitement. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Spoilers (Highlight to View) --->While I was not completely satisfied with the ending (I would have liked to seee Katness, Peeta, and Rue killed by the gamemakers after a final act of defiance.) I thought that the ending was appropriate and set up the rest of the series nicely. I believe the mockingjay pin is poisoned or is some type of communications device. I think the avox are former arena contestants, and I hope the Katniss ends of with Gale who was my favorite character.<---

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

#NaNoWriMo Day 9 results

1753 words today, which means I am at 16314 for the month. I am nearly a full day ahead and while I will write at least 1667 words tomorrow, I only need 353 to meet tomorrow's goal. But right now my wife wants me to get to bed so goodnight everyone.

Teen Romance: What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones

About the Book: What my Mother Doesn't Know is the story of almost 15 year old Sophie and the adventures that she has in life and in love during the first half of her sophomore year. Sophie takes the reader through her struggles with her family, her friends, and her search for Mr. Right.

The Teen King's Ruling: Written in enchanting verse, Sonya Sones presents the angst of teenage life in a clear and concise, but completely fun way. Sophie is a thoroughly enjoyable character and the brief glimpses into the different episodes of her life leave the reader reliving high school memories, or looking forward to future high school experiences. I give this book a 6 out of 10.
Spoilers (Highlight to View) --->I found myself extremely annoyed at two parts of the book. First, when Sophie allows her romance will Dylan to fizzle because of her online beau, and second when her instincts tell her to go for Robin, but she waits until the end of the book to do so. But maybe that's just because I am a guy and I see things differently than a girl does.<---

Monday, November 8, 2010


I am so glad Conan is back! You know, just FYI.

#NaNoWriMo Updated and Why Titles are the Bane of My Existance

Today I wrote 1836 words for a total of 14561 so far this month. I keep wishing my adult project was this easy to write. But that is a post for another day. Here is my writing issue that I was thinking about today.

I hate creating titles for my projects.

There are several reasons for this. First, I know that most of the time the title is going to get changed before the book gets published. So I feel like I should not put too much work into a title.

Second, the title is going to stick with you forever. I have never gotten a tattoo because I cannot think of anything that I would want to have on my body forever. I am so ADD that ten minutes after I got the ink I would be trying to scrape it off so that I could get something else.

Third, I can never think of a good title because I am too close to the project. I do not want the title to give too much away but I also want it to be a good representation of what the book is and I want it to be memorable.

Fourth, I know I need a title, and while I can put it off for a while, I will eventually give these monsters a name.

Of all of my projects I only have two titles and both of them are for my children's projects. Both titles are kind of no brainers so I cannot really take pride in them.

So how do you determine your titles? Do you think that I am overreacting? If you have been published what has been your experience with titles and title changes? I would love any comments that could help. You guys are the best!

Thoughts from the Teen King

I used to have a book blog called The Teen King. I am going to be migrating those reviews over to this blog over the next few days. So feel free to comment on them, but keep in mind most of them are over a year old so on a few books that have already had second or third books in the series come out my guesses (and opinions) may be out of date and may not reflect my current feelings (for example my opinion of The Hunger Games).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Another Day Another #NaNoWriMo word count.

I have to make this short. I was falling asleep in my chair as I was doing my writing tonight. I am not sure of the quality of my words but I made it to the requisite number...just barely. My word count today was exactly 1667 and that brings my total up to 12725 for the month. *Yawn* I am tired...see you tomorrow!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

#NaNoWriMo Does the Streak Continue?

It does! Today I wrote 1783 words for a grand total of 11058. I really did not think I was going to make it today because my wife and I had friends (seriously what is with friends and the whole wanting to spend time with you think? Again another Scrubs quote) over tonight so I had to spent a lot of the day cleaning house. Then I fell asleep and by the time I woke up I had no time to write. Fortunately, I am at a part in the story that is really fun to write.

I just introduced my main character to one of the pantheon of gods that rule my fantasy world. Needless to say that interaction was fun to write. The only thing that really got me thinking is teenagers have the know all mentality, so do you think that if the teen was meeting one of minor gods that he would show a lot of respect or would he be standoffish?

I wrote the scene so that he is respectful, but I think as he rationalized the experience he is going to go from annoyed to angry that he only met one of the minor gods when he was hoping to meet one the major ones.

What do you think, does this seem realistic or am I pushing teen rebelliousness too far?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Another Day of #NaNoWriMo

I have done it again, for the 5th day straight. I wrote 1815 words today which brings my grand total up to 9275. I would like to write more and respond to some of your posts but that will have to wait for tomorrow. It has been a long day and I am ready for bed. Good night (and good luck, I love that movie, and that quote from the TV show Scrubs which I also love.) I will reply to all tomorrow.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

#NaNoWriMo Four for Four and the Invisible "I"

Got in another 2076 words today which brings my total to 7459 for the month. I am very pleased with my results so far and with the weekend coming up I think I am in for a really positive first week.

There is one thing I am worried about though with this new story. I am 7459 words into my new story, and my main character, the narrator from who's perspective the story it told from does not have a name. That's right, no name.

Now there really has not been call for a name so far. He is an apprentice and everyone who around him knows either him or his parents and so there is a certain familiarity that he has with everyone or that everyone has with him.

So my question to you is: Is this a problem? Could you enjoy a book that is told from first person but you never actually learn the name of the person giving you this perspective. I almost see it as a challenge at this point to see if I can make it through the whole story with my main character nameless.

He has a name by the way, I just don't know what it is...I am so picky when it comes to names. I like to use names that look normal but have a strong meaning. In my adult project I picked the names of the characters first because if you deconstruct the names down to their meanings you can actually learn a lot of their storyline and their actual fate by the end of the books.

So what do you think, should I get a name in for the character ASAP or should I wait and see if I even need to give him a name?

Blog Award!

Thank you to Colene @ The Journey for giving me the I'm a Literacy Builder Blog Award.

Colene is my crit partner's other crit partner and was one of my first followers. She is an awesome blogger and has been a huge support for me as I have really gotten serious about this whole writing thing.

So thank you Colene you are awesome!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 3 #NaNoWriMo Update

I am happy to announce that I wrote 1797 words today making me 3 for 3 so far with NaNoWriMo. As you can see on the left side of your screen that brings me up to 5383 words. I am a bit mystified by my success thus far, granted being home sick with the flu has helped a little. Not actually with writing because I have written very little during the time that I would have been at work, but with getting the dogs to get thier energy out during the day so that I can write at night.

I think I am so motivated to do this for several reasons:

I want to see if I could,
I needed some time away from my adult fantasy project,
I knew I wanted to do a YA project as well and I already had a story in mind,
My wife and I have a bet going to see if I can really do it,
My critique partner is bored and needs more writing from me so that she will have something to keep herself busy,
I find that I am having an easier time writing in first person (NaNoWriMo YA Fantasy) and I am in third person omniscient (Adult YA Fantasy),
I am enjoying telling a more simple story (my adult fantasy is very complex with four main storylines that weave around each other, two of which are not in chronological order)
My YA Fantasy is set in the same world that I created for my adult fantasy project and actually fits into the adult project's storyline.

So if you are doing NaNoWriMo how are you doing with it? Is it easier or harder? Where do you draw your motivation to keep up the relatively torrid pace?

Day 2 = #NaNoWriMo Victory

1807 words today! WOO HOO! That brings my total up to 3583 words. I will keep you posted as I keep working

Monday, November 1, 2010


Day one of NaNoWriMo has been a smashing success. I was able to crank out 1776 words in around three and half hours tonight. That is fantastic for me because normally I only get around 250 words an hour when I write.

I read the first part to my wife and she said that it sounded teen like but she was surprised by how simple it was compared to my other writing.

Thank you everyone for your support! One day down 29 to go.

Follow My Progress!

If you want to follow how I am doing on my NaNoWriMo challenge there are two ways you can do it.

First if you are participating in NaNoWriMo find me by name: Writingmyselfcrazy

If you are not participating follow this link.


After much encouragement from my wife and my critique partner, I have decided to engage in NaNoWriMo this year.

I have spent the morning signing up on the NaNoWriMo site, and I have decided to work exclusively on the YA Fantasy series that I have planned. This means that everyday I will have to crank out 1667 words, which is going to be extremely difficult due to my long writing process.

I will complete 50000 words this month, so please leave any encouragement that you possess because I will need it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Writing Exercise

I read writer's digest and each month they have a writing exercise to try in order to hone your skills. A recent exercise was the write a first person story from the perspective of someone in a coma who could hear everything around them. I really liked the idea of the exercise, but instead of writing what they suggested, I turned it into a one-liner contest.

So here is the challenge: Write one line of dialogue that would be the worst possible thing to hear if you were in a coma.

Now the rule is that it has to either be humorous and/or horrifying, but not mundane. For example, writing that your spouse says that they are leaving you while horrifying is also mundane, but writing that your spouse is leaving you for the coma patient in the bed next to you is humorous if written well.

So have fun with this and I look forward to your ideas.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Last week on Twitter the hash tag #sadchildrensbooks was all the rage. What you do is take a current childrens book title and change it so that it describes a sad or wrong book that would no longer be suitable for children. Here are some examples (mine are starred):

Stuart Belittled
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie You Can Track His Web Usage and Invade His Privacy
Wikipedia Brown
The Mixed-Up Meds of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler
Mr. Popper's Penguin Pies*
The BFP (The Big Fondling Priest)*
Homophobe and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Gay
Danny and the Dinosaur meet the Great Asteroid *
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Awkward Family Secrets
Sarah Plain and unable to find a date *
Harold and the school's cancelled art program*
Are You My Mother (no change needed)
Are You There God, It's Me, Anne Frank

So my challenge to you is to try to come up with your own sad children's books, and have fun with it!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Great Critique Partner

I have the greatest ever critique partner. Sure, she is nice and sweet whenever I talk with her, and she wades through my drivel and somehow comes up with useful writing suggestions. She has a great blog. But those are the characteristics of a good critique partner, so what makes her great? She visits me in my dreams and kicks my butt.

Two nights ago I had a dream where Abby was beating me over the head with a published copy of my own book. As she beat me around my headparts, she was yelling, "WRITE!, WRITE!, WRITE!" Then as if in frustration that I did not immediately jump out of bed and start writing, she opened the book towards the back and shouts, "If you don't write, you will never get to this part, and you have not even thought of this yet!"

Yesterday, I confronted Abby about her nighttime foray into my head and her subsequent buttkicking of my brain. She laughed when I told her the story and then said that it was future her come back to tell me that I need to write more. I thought this was appropriate considering today's re release of Back to the Future. So to current and future Abby, thanks for being a great critique partner, and for believing in me and my writing, but please don't feel the need to come back and abuse me in my sleep. I got the point.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Writing for Guys

I know that without punctuation that title can be a bit nebulus, but I do plan to cover both major means in this post.

First, I want to address writing for a male audience. When I write, I want everyone who reads it regardless of gender to get lost in the story and love my world and my characters like I do. However, I do also try to make my writing accessible to a male audience. In my adult fantasy series I have 3 male main characters. I plan on having some beautiful women, (one of which I have already introduced) I have internal narration from the male characters that you will not get from the female characters. As a male reader, as I walk down the fantasy aisle at Borders, this is what I am looking for as a reader. I look for a male author with a male main character in a series that does not cross into Scifi. So really I am writing the book that I am looking for to read.

Second, I wanted to talk a little about being a male writer. Writing seems to be such a female heavy profession. Yes there are very successful male authors, in fact there are a lot of them, but just walking around bookstores it seems like the number female authors greatly outweighs the number of male authors. I think I understand why, I think that people do not believe that guys should be authors unless it is nonfiction and or about sports, video games, or they are writing articles for Playboy. When I tell people I want to write a book their eyes glaze over, twice. First, they think, "oh great an artist, no future here." Then I get the double glaze, "yeah real guys don't read or write." I would like to change these stereotypes. Guys get out there and write for guys. Write because you loved it, not because you want to get rich as an author. (because most of the time you won't.)

And if you see someone looking for writing direction, encourage them to try to write for guys. How many great books are we losing because there are a lot of guys not being pulled into our realms of imagination?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Time Travel

My friend and critique partner Abby at Above Water was talking about time travel and it got me thinking.

How do you choose to portray time travel in books.

I think there are three different methods: Time accounts for any time travel and so time travel is irrelevant, time travel creates a new time space continuum and so each timeline is possible and different, or time is not an active force and so travelling time allows the traveler to change the past and future.

Which time travel theory do you use in your writing? Why?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Meet My Newest Distraction

Distraction comes to me in many forms.

I have ADD which makes sitting down to do anything tough.

I work full time. I love playing video games (World of Warcraft and Console based...FYI WoW Cataclysm release date is Dec 7th!)
I have a beautiful wife. I have a sweet three and a half year old Wheaten Terrier named Wrigley.
But Saturday we got my newest and biggest distraction. Meet Zedd:

He is our new 11 week old Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier puppy. He is a bundle of energy but worth all of the hassle. So welcome to the family Zedd.

My First Blog Award

A huge thank you to my Critique Partner, Abby Minard at Above Water for giving me my first blog award. She may think the blog award is girly but it is the thought that counts! I will happily put it on my blog.

Now the rule is that you have this blog award on to 5 others, and here are the five I have chosen.

First, I want to give this to back to Abby! So definitely check her blog out.
Second, I want to give it to my wife Sarah at GreenBeanTeenQueen she has an awesome blog and I do not say that just because she is my wife.
Third, to my brother who is blogging about his life and faith. You can find him at God, Love, Life, Joy.
Fourth, to my good friends The Lundgrens who blog about the struggles and triumphs that their family has had due to the difficulties that face their twin sons who were born two and a half months early. You can find them at Life With The Lundgrens.
Fifth, goes to Colene Murphy at The Journey. She is an aspiring YA author who has an extremely entertaining and beautiful blog.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Celebrating Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books week. And even though I have already made my post on #SpeakLoudly, I did want to touch on what this week means to me as an aspiring writer. I must warn you this will be a bit random - my internet has been out for a week and my wife and I are watching the season premier of 30Rock. (Oh how I love it!)

@wawoodworth on twitter asked what is the most important lesson you want people to take away from banned books week.

My answer was that only the evil and the ignorant need fear ideas.

But here is my secret: I want to have one of my books banned.

And not for some high brow, intellectual reason. I want the cash; and there is no cash cow like a banned book. Just think about it, your book gets banned and then all of the librarians, professors, and the other assorted intelligentsia of the United States go and buy it. They read it and find that it well within their sensibilities and advise all of the people within their sphere of influence to buy it. Then all of of the wacko conservatives get it from the library (because they would never buy such filth [um romance novels anyone?*]) and so libraries have to but more copies. Finally someone starts a twitter campaign to support your book that has been so cruelly banned and eventually it get talked about to the point that the masses being to hear about it regularly and are forced by simple curiosity to buy it and see what the controversy is all about.

With all that said, I do support everyone's right to be able to read what they want. You can choose to restrict what you and your family reads but please do not try to restrict my right to choose for myself and my family.

And go and read a banned book you just might like it.

*I do not think romance novels are filth, but a lot of super conservative people who would ban books think that romance novels are filth. However, studies have shown that conservative women are the most likely to read and buy romance novels...hmm makes you think huh.

Monday, September 20, 2010


It is a very interesting time to be an aspiring writer in southwest Missouri.

As you may have heard there has been a rash of book banning at schools in the towns of Republic and Stockton MO.

The various social networks have exploded with condemnation towards the schools, the school boards, and the people who are challenging the books.

So what is my opinion?

I love censorship. Don't stop reading yet, I do have a point to make.

Censorship is an important part of a functioning society. Consider what would happen if publishers did not censor the manuscripts that they received. We would be buried in terrible books and publishers would go out of business.

On the legal side, if you could advocated the violent death of the president of the United States the police would be so busy responding to threats that crime and anarchy would be the order of the day. Censorship has a purpose, and when it is appropriately applied by rational people it can be a valuable tool to maintain a healthy society.

However, I believe that censorship has very little place in the vast majority of American life, and perhaps the least appropriate place for censorship is in education.

The point of education is to expose people to a variety of ideas and teach them how to learn how to think for themselves. When you remove books from the marketplace of ideas that people are exposed to you limit the potential of those students to succeed in our society.

In the case in Stockton MO, a book that advocated doing whatever you can to try to succeed in life was banned because it accurately reflected the thoughts and actions of most teenage boys. In Stockton not only was the book removed from the classroom, it was removed from the school library. This is an example of censorship gone wrong, and I think that it is am egregious violation of the spirit of the first amendment.

The more recent case in Republic MO is even more troubling. A Missouri State professor has challenged three books in the school district. Slaughterhouse Five and Speak are part of the school curriculum, and Twenty Boy Summer is part of the school library collection.

Currently Slaughterhouse Five has been removed from the curriculum. Speak is being reviewed but is still being taught.

Here are the questions on this issue:
Does Mr. Scroggins have a right to challenge these books?

Yes. Mr. Scroggins is a tax payer in the Republic school district and even though his children attend private school he does have a right to challenge the books.

Does the school board have to remove a challenged book?

No. A school board is not required by law to remove a challenged book.

So what is the problem? By exercising his right to challenge the books in a school curriculum he is trampling the rights of the parents and students of the district. I could understand his attempt at proactive parenting if he was merely trying to protect his kids, however his kids are not enrolled in the public school district. That means that he is trying to push his beliefs off on everyone else. I could accept his argument if he was fighting to give the kids in a district a choice in the curriculum. (Having been previously trapped in a curriculum I was not ready for I would have benefited from having an alternative.) But instead he is fighting to remove choice from the curriculum.

Books and ideas are meant to be consumed as part of the marketplace of ideas and the public discourse. If you want to shelter your children from engaging in the culture around them that is your right, but do not tell me what my children can and cannot be exposed to.

The worst part of this challenge is that the books in question are so valuable. Slaughterhouse Five is an anti-war novel. Speak is a novel about about how to learn to survive after rape and how to speak out. Twenty Boy Summer is about how to deal with loss and grief and the negative consequences of rash emotional decisions.

Each of these authors have had the bravery to write about terrible things to try to help teenagers cope with very real problems.

Perhaps worst of all is that he cloaks his attacks in the mantle of Christianity. What he is doing is the farthest thing from what true Christians would do. Christianity teaches that people should not judge others and that people should live life free from fear. Christianity teaches compassion and understanding, which these three books represent to many teenagers who read them. Do not lump the rest of us Christians in with Mr. Scroggins, he does not speak for me.

Thank you Ms. Anderson for writing a book that deals with such a terrible issue. Thank you for having the courage to support those girls who needed someone, anyone to help them.

Thank you Ms. Ockler for writing a book that helps teens deal with loss and grief. Thank you for taking the time to show them the consequences of destructive decisions so that they can hopefully avoid making the same mistakes.

Thank you Mr. Vonnegut for taking a stand.

And to Mr. Scroggins, remember it is your right to shelter yourself and your children, but please do not repress the rights of others due to a moral repugnance to certain aspects of everyday life. I fear that the "evils" that you chase away may leave a space in which true evil can flourish.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


My wonderful critique partner Abby interviewed me on her blog. Check it out and follow her:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Perhaps My Favorite Writing Quote Ever

"Writers don't make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don't work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel guilty about throwing the schmuck's book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealousy, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch facedown and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man's stupid words. And for this, as I said before, we are paid a dollar."

Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Follow Abby!

You might remember the great Abby Minard who did a guest post for me a couple of months ago. Well she has now started her own blog which like her writing is much better than my own. But her launching a blog and her dicipline to updated it several times a week has inspired and motivated me to make this blog a once a week blog and to reopen my sports blog. So you can catch me here once a week and you can catch my sports blog at everyday.

But if you want a great read you need to go to that is where the good stuff is.

See you next week!

Monday, August 2, 2010

What A Weekend!

My wife and I are exhausted after a super busy weekend!

Saturday was a magical evening as we went to a surprise party for Harry Potter's 30th birthday. Ginny and Hermione went all out with decorating and food. (Even though British food is not really my favorite, it was still pretty good!)

All of the kids were there, James Sirius, Albus Severus, Lily Luna, Hugo, Rose, Teddy, Victoire, Dominique, Loius, Molly, Lucy, Fred and Roxanne just to name a few. (it was quite a room full)

Of course all of the Weasleys came, Authur and Molly (being grandparents really suits them), Bill and Fleur, George and Angelina, Percy and Audrey, and even Charlie tore himself away from his dragons in Romania to be there.

Neville and Hannah came for a while but could not stay long owing to the fact that the venomous tentaculas were teething. Luna and her family could not make it because they were off chasing a creature that was reported to be a cross between an Erumpent and a Crumple-Horned Snorkack. (which if true would be a great discovery for it would be the first evidence of a Crumple-Horned Snorkack) Kingsley was there and Percy would not stop pestering him with ministry business, much to Hermione's frustration. Hagrid was there with a new pet of some sort that Ginny would not let the kids get near, and Headmistriss McGonagall seemed a bit exasperated by Hagrid bringing his new pet but she bore it with good grace and even danced with him by the end of the night. Horace Slughorn sat in the corner observing the festivities with cheer all while keeping a sharp eye on the kids, taking a measure of eachs' abilities. Even Aberforth showed up, but left early muttering something about seeing a baseball game that he had been trying to get into since 1945.

Hermione and Ginny nearly stole the show. They both looked radiant and they were the perfect hostesses. Sure, Ginny had to keep threating Ron so that he would stay away from the food, and Hermione almost jinxed Percy into silence, but after so much hard work it would be hard to blame them for these little tense moments. But it was Ron who really made sure that Harry had not found out anything about the party, and Ron even got Harry to go after a fake report of a dark wizard operating in Hogsmeade. Harry arrived him in a bit of a sour temper after being sent on this wild goose chase, but took the surprise with good natured humility and after dinner offered a toast to Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and friends and loved ones far and near. It was such a great moment that we didn't even mind when George revealed that he has spiked the champagne with U-No-Poo.

It was a perfect evening, and we hated to leave but Sunday was another huge event for us too.

Sunday we got up early and traveled to Springfield for Lisa Simpson's wedding. It was beautiful. The decorations were tastefully understated and the food was wonderful. (It was supposed to be all vegetarian, but Homer snuck in some pork chops and I was lucky enough to get one.) There ceremony was beautiful and even though Lisa did not end up getting married, but it was great to spend time a family that means almost as much to me as my own.

We got back late last night and we had really blown out imaginary budget for this amazing imaginary weekend, but for a trip through our imagination with some of our favorite characters it was worth every fake penny.

It is not often that a book or TV series have actual dates on which we can take a fond look back at the stories and characters that we have grown to love. So two have two of my favorite series have landmark dates fall on the same weekend was pretty special to me. I hope you enjoy my reminisce of what might have been and as always your comments are welcome.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What to write first?

I am in a bit of a quandary. As a new writer I am still trying to find my voice. I am trying to perfect my craft. So my question is should I hone my craft on the story that I care most about, or should I write something else first and then take my more practiced skills and apply them to the story that I want to be my magnum opus.

The adult epic fantasy that I am writing is my favorite project. I have been working on the world and refining it for over a decade. I had it planned for a trilogy but I believe it will be 5 books now. It is what I have been working on since I started this blog. It is my dream.

But I feel like I owe the story and the characters better writing. I feel like I need to improve before I tell this story.

Now it is possible that by the end of the three to five books I will be the writer who I think I need to be to tell the story, but is it better to write something else first?

I have something else that i would like to work on. It is a YA fantasy series set in the same world as my epic fantasy and so I would not only be refining my writing but I will still be refining my world.

So should a switch gears? What to you think?

Monday, June 28, 2010

ALA part II

Today is our last day of ALA and we are coming home loaded with swag. I think that we have too much but it is never too much for my wife. We will be paying to ship everything fedex because the wonderful USPS pulled out after one day at the conference.

The most inspirational author that I met this week was James Kennedy. He wrote the book The Order of Odd Fish. It is a fantasy book and it seems a little weird but that is ok. I met him at the ya coffee klatch yesterday and he had such great energy! He brought a bunch of fan art about his book and even made mix cds of the music that inspired him during his writing for everyone that he visited with. I do not think that I will be inspired by much on the CD, but it was great to meet another writer who used music as such a strong muse while they write.

Well, I suppose that is it. My last suggestion based on my ALA experience is to pick up Charles and Emma: Darwin's Leap of Faith. I met the author and she was great and said that the reason she was so drawn to this book was because Charles and Emma Darwin's marriage was very much like her own with her husband. She comes from a religious background, he comes from a science background and how they make it work together and find aspects of each others' "faith" (ie. faith in God versus faith in Science) to reinforce their own beliefs and find that perhaps the differences between science and religion are not so great. I have not read the book myself, but I think my wife has it so I think I am going to read it.

Hope you enjoyed my recap of the trip, I look forward to any comments.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Hey everyone,

Here is my update on ALA. It has been a great so far. Lots of free stuff and I have met a bunch of really cool authors. My favorite so far has been Brandon Sanderson. I got an advanced reader copy of the first book in his new 10 book series. He was very nice and personalized his signing.

I was also looking for Mockingjay (not here because the book is so popular they are keeping it secret like with Harry Potter), the new Bartimaeus book, (not here because it is too popular but they are going to mail me a hardcover when it comes out thanks to my wonderful wife), and the third tapestry book by Henry Neff (not here because it got pushed back, i will get it at Midwinter in January). So those were major bummers.

We have gone to all of the monuments and the Library of Congress. Monday we will hit the Smithsonian.

Met a lot of great librarians and bloggers too, and in the morning we are going to the ya author speed dating event that enjoyed so much we did last year.

Best moments/Random thoughts:
Best Carry-on at the airport: A dog head from a mascot costume
Best Quote: @the Lincoln Memorial, Kid 1: Wow that's a big Lincoln! Kid 2: Yeah he was even bigger in real life.
Best Book: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Best Meal: Tonight at Austin Grill with a bunch of bloggers, librarians, and authors; 17 of us in all.
The convention is really loud! Is it too ironic to shush it?
Apparently ALA is where librarians go to spawn...last year there was a secret twitter account posting anonymous sex confessions, this year it is a twitter hashtag for everyone to see.
Book bloggers are either really cool or really awful and greedy.
The #ala10 twitter feed is either extremely funny or extremely boring
I guess librarian's like soccer because the USA match today was really popular
Lots of kids are here, most seem bored...poor things.

Well that is it I guess. Off to bed because I have another full day tomorrow. If you want to keep up with my adventures follow me on twitter: @crazywriterblog

See ya and look for another update soon.

PS I have been WAY to busy to write so far but I am hoping for time tomorrow. I tried on the plane, but I was too tall to look at the screen...I had no legroom.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Guest Post! Finding the Time by Abby "I rock at writing" Minard

Hey guys,

It is my honor to introduce you to my friend Abby who, as I have mentioned on this blog before, is an aspiring young adult author and my critique partner. I asked her recently to do a guest post and she took the time out of her very busy schedule to do it. She is a great writer and a good friend, and your lives will be better for having read her guest post.

Finding the Time

As I sit here, surfing the net for bedding sets instead of writing, it made me think of this post I’m supposed to be writing for Andy. So, I thought I’d start it now. What a better time to write a blog post about time management when I am wasting my time as we speak! Well, not anymore since technically now I am not wasting my time since I am writing a post I told Andy I’d do.

Anyway, we all have different ways of managing our time. Some of us are great at it, and get everything done on their “to-do” lists and then some. I like to call those people “overachievers”. Then, there are those that procrastinate and do everything other than what is on their to-do list. I call those people…well, me. Okay, I’m not that bad I guess. But let me tell you, trying to juggle a “day job”, a 4year old, a house, writing a novel, a social life, and oh, did I mention a husband in there somewhere?…is just plain hard!

I just read a really great blog post by Maggie Stiefvater about time management, and she really hits the nail on the head for me. She talked about having children, and making time to write when you are just starting out. It’s what I am going through now, as well. The number one thing for me, is that I need to carve out specific times during the day or week that is “my writing time”. If I designate a time to do it, it’s like going to my job. It’s on my calendar-in pen- so I have to do it. If I dedicate myself to that, then most of the time it gets done (with a little bit of procrastination on the side).

But the big question for those of us with children is, when exactly do I have time to write? My answer- if you love it, you’ll find time. I love my daughter, and I love spending time with her, as well as my husband. But my Little Monster (I call her that because she is obsessed with Lady Gaga, and she calls her fans her “Little Monsters” so, she is her Littlest Monster) is not my WHOLE life. I am not her slave. I do not wait on her hand and foot. I know some people whose children are what they live for. They are their whole lives, and they know nothing else. They don’t know what’s going on in the world, they don’t keep up with the latest trends in whatever, and they don’t have much interaction with adults. If my life was like that, I think I’d explode. No one would like mama, then.

So, I make time for myself. Little Monster has quiet times during the day, and I utilize that time to work on what I need to, be it writing, reading, keeping up with blogs, or keeping up with My Shows (I have to have My Shows, people!). I am trying to narrow that down to mostly writing right now, so I can get this first novel up and running, but it takes time to adjust (the procrastination thing really gets me some days). I also have Monday nights as my night to write. Little Monster goes to bed early, and then after that I just write until I’m dizzy and the screen’s all fuzzy. Hubs is at work, so I have no distractions.

And that is how it has to be for now. Hopefully, once I can get my first novel published, the goal is to be able to write full time. That will open up a whole new slew of time management issues. But for now, I deal with the reality of my situation and do what I need to do. Because I love to write. I love telling stories, and yes, it’s very hard and sometimes I just want to give up. But in the end, I come back to it and coax it back to life. Because it’s what I want to do, and it’s who I want to be, and it makes me happy.

Thanks Andy, for letting me invade your blog to drone on and on about making time to write! Seriously people, if you love it, stop making excuses and just sit down and do it! Now to listen to my own advice…wait, Old Navy’s having a sale? Let me just check on their website…