Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Favorite Characters

Who are your favorite characters of all time?
Mine include are not limited too:
Zeddicus Zul'Zorander
Jimmy the Hand
Tyrion Lannister
I would love to  hear some of yours

#NaNoWriMo Day 1 #amwriting

Day 1 was a smashing success with over 2000 words. I am at a strange spot in the story where it is revolving around three characters at once. Sort of a Harry, Hermione, and Ron sort of thing. Except the Hermione of my story keeps getting lost in the shuffle. She has to be there, and her presence is important, but her minute to minute activities are getting lost in the story of the two guys.

It is appropriate for the scene, but not much like her character who is very boisterous. Do you think this is a problem? Have you noticed things like the before when there are multiple characters all traveling together in what you are reading or writing?

I only ask because they are about to take a journey together. Now I can write the story of the journey and throw in some mini adventure involving the magical horse they have with them, or I can skip the deals and get them to thier destination when the Hermione character is really going to take off.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Warming up for #NaNoWriMo 2011 #amwriting

I am back to blogging this month!

Since NaNoWriMo is just around the corner I am starting to get myself ready for the event. I am going to be continuing my work on last year's project so if everything goes well I will have 76000 words done by the end of November. You can look forward to daily updates as I blog to clear my head before writing.

So for the people who are doing NaNoWriMo this year: Are you doing a new project or are you working on something old?

I have not read nor edited anything from last year's project, but I am going to have to go back and reread it to get the thread of where I was in the story and to remember some of the nuance. Should I do any editing or should I just cringe my way through and edit when it is over? I would love your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Adult Fantasy: The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

About the Book: What happens to legendary heroes when they grow tired of saving everyone? How do you motivate a hero? How does someone go from being an ordinary, albeit talented child to being the greatest hero in a generation? The Wise Man's Fear is Day Two of the back story of the legendary hero Kvothe.

My Thoughts: Again relayed mostly through a series of flashbacks, this story continues to be fun fast paced and exciting. Rothfuss reclaimed his wonderful writing style and again the voice clearly changes when he is writing in the past versus writing in the present. Kvothe is flushed out much more as a character, but his story takes a darker and more dangerous turn. Adult relationships flourish in all of their complexity. While there were a couple breaks in voice as the book went on, for the most part Rothfuss quickly brought the story back to where I expected it to be. My biggest problems are that the middle of the book is a sexual romp in a fairy realm and the story seems to be progressing too slowly. I can handle sex in a book, but it seemed like 200 pages of the book was devoted to sex, it just kind of dragged on and on. The other problem with progressing too slowly is this. In the present, Kvothe is around 30 years old. By the end of the second book, he is not even twenty in his flashbacks. That means in the next book he has to cover 10 years worth of back story and I am not sure how he is going to do it.
Since this series is called The KingKiller Chronicle, I am hoping that the series will be longer than a trilogy. I have not heard how many books this series is scheduled for, but I image it will take at least 2 more.
Overall this book was very good and had a much better ending. Rothfuss has won me back and I well be impatiently awaiting the next book. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Friday, March 4, 2011

An "Appropriate" Ending *SPOILER ALERT*

I don't care if the ending is happy or tragic. All I care about is an appropriate ending. I can't stand when everything changes at the end of the book. I don't like when the solution comes out of the blue without any foreshadowing, or when we find out the whole conflict really was no danger after all.

An inappropriate ending ruins books for me.

I have known where my ending was going to end up since the beginning, but I am wondering how to execute that ending.


It comes down to this question: How bothered would you be as a reader if the book ended on a very public murder, but you as the reader never knew which of the characters was killed?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Adult Fantasy: The Way of Kings By Brandon Sanderson

About the Book: Roshar is a world dominated by weather. Powerful, enchanted Highstorms sweep across the land with such fierceness and regularity that the plants have evolved to retract into the ground to avoid them. The energy of the storms provide powerful magic to Roshar's citizens and captured Stormlight can be used for everything from adding value to money to making legendarily powerful weapons and armor.

Kaladin is a brilliant soldier betrayed by his commander and sold into slavery for knowing too much. Shallan is a minor noble and talented artist who can capture a scene with a glance and duplicate it hours later, who's family no longer has enough money to survive, has a daring plan to steal a powerful magical item to try to save her family. Following the assassination of the king, and six years of war with the people who sent the assassin, Kaladin and Shallan must each risk everything just to stay alive.

My Thoughts: This book is massive, over 400k words and over 1000 pages. It is the first book of a ten book series, but it is amazingly written and the story is masterfully crafted. The characters are vibrant and leap off the page even if the background is more sparse than one typically finds in fantasy. The setting reminds me of the seafloor just without the water.

Part Lighting Thief, part Ben-Hur there is a lot of action and adventure. While not quite the page turner that Goodkind's Sword of Truth was for me, this book is definitely one of my favorites and I will be eagerly awaiting each new addition to this series. I have not spotted any major flaws other than perhaps its length, and a desire to see a few of the background characters flushed out a bit more particularly, Wit and Szeth. (of course assuming that the rest of the books will be just as large, Mr. Sanderson will have plenty of time to flush out these characters). I have had the ARC of the book for about a year and just never made the time to get to it, but now that I have I am drooling over the next one. I give it an 9 out of 10. Oh, and the audiobook is awesome too!


I got Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss today! Even though I only gave Name of the Wind a 5 I am hopeful that his second book will be as good as I hoped his first book would have been.

A Tribute to Dave Duerson

My blog has been a real downer lately. I don't post as often as I should and most of my posts lately have been about recent deaths.

I believe that the greatest stories are the ones around us. The stories that we live everyday. What triumph lives in the mind of man that cannot be found in real life, perhaps even in the lives of our friends or neighbors in real life? What horrific dreams of evil born in literature could not already be found the darkest souls of the depraved?

My tribute today will not be complete, it will be a fractured tale that comes from childhood memories that long ago obscured, like looking at the past through a frosted window.

Dave Duerson was a professional football player, but when I first met him that was only slightly important to me. Sure, I was excited to get to meet a professional football player, but I was young and I had yet to fall in love with football. My grandparents took me to a party that some wealthy friends had every year. At these parties I met many professional athletes, but since I was so young and the party rather formal, I was bored. I know at some point I ended up at an arcade playing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was not very good, but as I played I received some help.

That help came from professional football player Dave Duerson. He came over with a bucket of quarters and played the game with me until we beat one of the bosses. We eventually ran out of quarters and he went back to the party, but for a little while he took time to bring joy to a bored little boy. I don't remember if I ever met him again. I know that the next year when the time for the party came around I had to stay home sick with the flu and Mr. Duerson asked about me and sent me a get well card along with an autographed photo.

Mr. Duerson had a fan for life and I began to pay more attention to pro football. I remember being sad that he retired, and he settled into obscurity off my radar.

He had not really settled into obscurity, he started a successful business and in his free time was busy working with former NFL players who were having trouble with brain injuries sustained while playing football.

That was until he began to show the same symptoms that the other former NFL player struggled with. He began to have trouble speaking and writing. His business floundered and his marriage fell apart. He was arrested for domestic abuse, but his exwife maintains that the incident was due to her husbands brain injury and that he was not responsible for what happened.

Two weeks ago Dave Duerson took his own life. He was 50 years old. A suicide ending the life of a former NFL player is not unusual, but the method that Mr. Duerson chose to end his was. Despite his problems with brain injury, Mr. Duerson shot himself in the chest. This way of committing suicide is particularly unusual because of the chance of suffering before death is so much greater and where the psychology of suicide by firearm normally leads. The following quote probably says it best: “Think of the old cliché about the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master. This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head. They shoot the terrible master.”

So why did Dave Duerson take the harder death and spare the terrible master? Because he wanted to donate his brain to science so that they can continue to work towards finding out more about the injuries that made him take his life. His suicide note and his last text messages to his family both said to make sure that his brain was donated.

This is a tragic story of a desperate broken man. This man showed me a kindness as a child and I have never forgotten it. I grieve for his family and friends. I remember a life well lived until brain injury began to remove what made him who he was. I hope that his donation will save the lives of others.

Back when I made my post about Brian Jacques I realized that he was the second person that I had recently posted about and since superstition says that deaths come in threes I was wondering who I would next be writing about. I am hoping that this means that other people that I was worried about dying will be able to hold on. (I am looking at you George R. R. Martin). I am sorry things have been so somber. Look for my review of Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings soon, and I will be back to writing about writing soon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Tribute to Brian Jacques

For the second time in 3 months, I write with a heavy heart. A couple weeks ago one of the authors who had a huge impact on me passed away.

When I was in fourth grade I was given a copy of Redwall by my parents. Within minutes I was lost in the rich world of brave mice, noble badgers, and diabolical vermin. It was in the series that I learned the value of librarians.

I have always been a fast reader and so I quickly made my way through the Redwall stories in my school library. My school librarian then began offering suggestions of other series that I could read, but also letting me know whenever a new Redwall book was coming out. But the school resources were limited and so I went to the public library. The librarians at the public library took up my cause and helped me fill in the gaps of the Redwall stories by getting books through interlibrary loan. Soon I had read every Redwall book published.

Through the help of librarians, and because of the vibrant stories that Brian Jacques wrote; I developed a deeper love of reading.

Eventually, I grew out of my love for the adventures in Redwall (although this was after literally wearing out several copies), but I never lost my respect for the author who influences my writing to this day.

I was sad to hear of his passing, and I was sad by how few people I saw lamenting his passing. But, I wanted to pay tribute in my way, and I hope that someday my writing will impact someone the way that the writing of Brian Jacques has impacted me.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Guest Post on GreenBeanTeenQueen

I just did a guest review of The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima for GreenBeanTeenQueen. Feel free to check it out by clicking here

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Adult Fantasy: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

About the Book: What happens to legendary heroes when they grow tired of saving everyone, no matter what the cost to themselves. How do you motivate a hero. How does someone go from being an ordinary, albeit talented child to being the greatest hero in a generation. Kvothe already has most of those answers, but the answer he needs the most is the one that he cannot seem to find within himself. Maybe a chronicler who is asking about the past, a plague of demon attacks, and a worried magical friend will help him discover the passion he needs to reclaim who he used to be.

My Thoughts: Relayed mostly through a series of flashbacks, this story is fun fast paced and exciting. Rothfuss has a wonderful writing style and the voice clearly changes when he is writing in the past versus writing in the present. Kvothe is a vivid interesting character, who you cannot help but want to know more about. I had this book highly recommended to me and after reading a bit about it I was excited to read it. I was really enjoying it so much so that I actually turned off playoff football. (granted the game was out of hand and so I did not feel bad about turning it off, but still I turned off football!) My enjoyment of the book was not to last however, as the ending was perhaps the most disappointing end that I have read recently (well, excluding Mockingjay). It was like Mr. Rothfuss lost his voice with 70 pages left to go in the story. One moment he was writing a riveting story with a past and a present voice, then suddenly it switched into a slow boring monotone. Furthermore, the ending was soft and the climax seemed sudden and disjointed. It seemed like this book was cut from a larger book and definitely could not stand on its own but had to because the full book would be too long. Kvothe is a strong enough character that I want to keep reading the series to find out more about his past, but so much of the book is dedicated to Kvothe's past that I am not sure that unless the series goes for 6 books or so that there will be enough pages to tell the rest of the story of the present and the future. The other major flaw of the book is that we are told that Kvothe is a legendary warrior and hero and we are told that there are legendary stories about him. However, since the reader has yet to hear these stories and since references to the stories are frequently made in the story, I felt frustrated that I could not use these stories as reference points the way that many of the characters could. The flaws are not enough to stop me from reading on, unless Mr. Rothfuss cannot find his voice again. I give this book 5 out of 10, which is disappointing because if the story had continued as strongly to the end and it was in the beginning and the middle it would have been an 8 or a 9.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

NaNoWriMo and SEX?

I suppose this is one of those big YA questions. Should sex be in YA, how much, and how much should be "on screen."

I think that writing about sex is part of writing for young adults. So I have no problem dealing with sex in my writing. But I have come to a part of the story that I am not sure how to get to the sex that I know is coming.

My main character is currently traveling with a beautiful but distant/mean girl that he studied with at school. He thinks she is beautiful but has not worked out whether he likes her or not.

The girl feels that the main character is interesting due to his potential, but really sees him as inferior to her because she is street smart and he is book smart. She thinks he is cute, but cannot get over how naive he is. So there is room for this to grow into something, but in her mind he is more casual friend material. However, if he started up some trouble it would be a different story.

Now comes the interesting part. While traveling they have met a handsome farm boy who is charming and witty, but also has shown an ability to protect himself when danger is around. The girl is completely smitten with him, and has been reduced to giggles on more than once occasion.

So here is the question. The girl would totally have sex with farm boy, like right now, if the opportunity arose. But, if this happens, main character will be turned off of her for good. However, if I throw the brakes on the sex for now and let the relationship develop more it could turn into an interesting series of love points to explore in the story.

So that is my dilemma, any advice?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Family Distractions

My return to NaNoWriMo today was less than successful as I was interrupted by family members calling, wanting to talk, or just wanting to cuddle (this would be my dogs/wife).

First, my wife wanted to cuddle on the couch, but I told her I needed to write so she let me go.

Next, my brother texted me and wanted me to get on skype to talk. While we were talking my other brother got on and so it conversation went way longer than anticipated.

Then, my father-in-law called and spent 25 minutes talking to me about sports.

Then the internet went out. (which I use the internet a lot when I write so not having it is like missing a hand.)

So now I am frustrated, my creative energies have been totally thrown off, and I just want to go to bed.

How do you deal with family distractions? Would this series of events put you off your writing, or am I just being silly?

Well, I suppose some good can come from this, I can tell my wife I am ready to cuddle now. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Midwinter Institute Gushing part 2 #alamw11

This is the part where I get to tell you about my honorary Master's degree. but not yet.

First to the swag. The book that GreenBeanTeenQueen got was called Glow, but I am not sure of the author. I received a free audiobook copy of the latest Wheel of Time book called Towers of Midnight. On the last day of the conference most display items are for sale or are even given away free so I made the most of that time too. I got the whole set of the Ranger's apprentice books, I got a hard cover edition of The Ring of Solomon the final book in the Bartimaeus series, I got the hard cover graphic novels of The Amulet of Samarkand and the Lightning Thief. So I was pretty happy. Wife got a lot more we wound up shipping or packing over 200 lbs of books for her teens at the library.

As for the rest of the trip, it was fun but rather uneventful until we went to a meetup with some of GreenBeanTeenQueen's blogger/librarian friends. We had dinner a couple times and walked around San Diego, until they decided that they were going to start their own library called The International Library of Awesome or ILOA for short. I was feeling a little left out since I was the only one who was not technically a librarian due to the fact that I do not have a Master's in Library Science. They solved that problem for me by granting me an Honorary Master's of Information and Library Science.

They also came up with an idea that will be a new segment on the blog. Once a month you will get to watch a video blog entitled P&G. This stands for Puke and Glitter, I will coordinate with another ILOA member to read the same YA book and give it a review on a one to five scale of buckets of puke if I did not like it, and buckets of glitter if I did like it. The book choices will generally be books that we expect will elicit a puke response from me and a glitter response from my co-host that month. However, you never know when I might give out some glitter (it will be manly glitter though, like blue glitter or camo colored or something.) So watch for that.

I guess that is it. Starting tomorrow I am going to try to finish the second half of NaNoWriMo. So I will post back with updates and you will see how I progress...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Midwinter Institute Gushing part 1 #alamw11

WARNING! Major gushing to follow.

Sorry it has been so long, but I hope to make up for it this week with my updates from the American Library Association's Midwinter Institute from sunny San Diego California.

GreenBeanTeenQueen and I arrived Wednesday night and made our way to our fabulous hotel - The Gaslamp Hilton and our room has a wonderful view of the convention center and the bay behind. We have been treated to beautiful sunsets and gorgeous mid 60s weather.

Thursday we woke up and made our way to the San Diego Zoo which was even better than advertised. I grew up going to the Brookfield Zoo which is considered the third best zoo in the United States, but I can fully understand why San Diego is number one. The landscape was beautiful, and I saw animals there that I did not know even existed. It was so much fun, I highly recommend it.

Then we went to the San Diego Maritime Museum and got to go on several ships. First we went on a 1874 merchant ship, then we went on a replica of a pre-civil war era warship, we went on a retired soviet submarine from 1974, then a retired American submarine from 1968. We also went on a steam liner from circa 1870. It was incredible to see all the craftsmanship and we got some great pictures that I will post later.

We closed our evening walking around the beautiful gaslamp district.

Yesterday we woke up and did all of our registration for ALA. Then we went to lunch at the wonderful Yard House. It was amazing, a lot of bar food, but it was bar food the way that a culinary school would do it. So good! Wifey got 3 cheese grilled cheese with tomato bisque soup and I got Parmesan crusted chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and 3 mushroom sauce.

After lunch wifey had a committee meeting so I wandered over to Petco Park where the San Diego Padres play. They have a beautiful stadium and you can walk all the way up to the outfield fence to take pictures of the field.

After wifey's committee meeting, we got to go to the opening of the exhibits. It was awesome, we ran into some friends, and then when the doors opened rushed to get all of the freebees. Within 11 minutes I was heading back to the hotel with bags bulging. After 3 additional hotel runs we went to the Yalsa Not so Silent Silent Auction. It was fun but a bit to rich for us so we left early for our YA Librarian/Blogger meetup. When we got there we found that a publisher had come and comped us drinks up to $500. We had a couple authors and many blogging librarians, it was an absolute blast. The publisher who came had worked for Tor and for Random House before moving to Baen, so I was his shadow for a lot of the night learning all that I could about those publishers. He also recommended a epic fantasy series by Steven Erikson which I am very excited to read. Eventually as the meetup slowed down we went back to the room, ordered room service, and went to bed.

Today has been amazing. We got up and went over to the convention center, and we got tweeted that Macmillan wanted to meet with us. We went over to the booth and found that that the amazing library marketing team had seen my tweets. I had tweeted about how upset I was that neither Tor nor Wizards of the Coast had come to midwinter institute. I had also tweeted how I was carry bags for GreenBeanTeenQueen and that I could use encouragement should anyone see me weighed down with books. Turns out that they had a surprise for each of us. For wifey, they had an ARC of a book that will not be published for more than a year to do a special review on. For me, they had a free audiobook from Tor! I can't give titles until after the conference so come back and I will tell all.

This totally made my day and gave me a whole new respect for Macmillan. I am so grateful for the gift and I promptly tweeted Macmillan's praises.

Now, I am off to lunch, and wifey is in committee today so I think I will take in some NFL playoff football. I would love to hear your thoughts.