Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's Resolutions I Have No Intention of Making Or Keeping

1. Get up an extra half hour earlier so I can do something that is only slightly more important than sleep.
2. Exercise any more than absolutely necessary.
3. Be nicer to loosely organized, hive based insects.
4. Stop 'using the Force' to find our ultimate driving destination.
5. Work towards World Peace; or for that matter, even a block watch program.
6. Anything else that might in the slightest bit inconvenience me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wii Positive

Our household has tested Wii positive this Christmas. This is a rapidly spreading contagion that has infected almost every member of the family; my wife will not be able to hold out much longer.

Son Number Two beat the tar out of mii in just about every one of the Wii Play games. Finally I lucked out and the target shooting game came up. Since I am a five time rifle expert, I assumed a comfortable off hand position and proceeded to slaughter my son. He couldn't even come close to my score. With that, I decided to declare victory and move on. He complained but I have a writing deadline to meet and not even a round of Wii Golf is enticing enough to miss that.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Wise Men Still Seek Him




This picture made me think of the following captions.

1. Men only stop to ask for directions when there is no longer a clear sign to lead them.
2. Garmin GPS: 2000 years of Most High Technology.
3. Are we there yet?

Picture discovery courtesy of StumbleUpon.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rumblin', Bumblin', Stumblin'

A surprisingly busy week has prevented me from telling you about StumbleUpon. It's been around for a while but I've never really tried it. While I still am not thrilled about another freakin' toolbar to take up screen space, I've decided to sign up for it. The stumble feature is pretty good; the web sites I'm randomly directed to are relevant to the interests I've checked. The networking feature is coming along and I've seen an increased level of traffic to this blog. All in all, I think it is worth the time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wayfarer's Journal

This month the CSFF Blog Tour is highlighting Wayfarer's Journal, an online source for Christian science fiction. This is an excellent website that features SF with a Christian perspective. So much SF these days seems to take non religious view of the future. That's on a good day; the rest of the time they are actively anti-religious. This webzine is an attempt to take speculative fiction and present it with a viewpoint that a huge percentage of Americans share. That is a Very Good Thing.

The stories are thought provoking and timely. The layout is professional. The feeling and attitude are warm and welcoming. This is a place you should visit and support.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Writing Lessons From Christmas Cookies

In our house we have a tradition this time of year. My wife spends hours baking frosted sugar cookies and I spend hours trying to avoid helping her so that I can eat them later with the appropriate feeling of consequence-free pleasure. After getting caught in the kitchen on other Sunday afternoon business I was coerced into sifting together some flour, baking powder, and salt. Then I figured out that the deck needed sweeping. While I'm busy doing this marginally important task, Daughter Number One comes out and asks, "Are you trying to avoid helping Mom with the cookies?" I of course try misdirection and state, "No, I just have other things to do right now." She sees clearly through this with The Sight that only a six year old has. "OK, so you're trying to avoid helping Mom with the cookies." Then she turns back into he kitchen.

If you are getting lazy and uninspired in your writing, your characters will be obviously not doing what they should be doing. Readers will note this. Remember that fiction is not like real life and your characters have to stay on task. They can eat someone else's cookies, but they have to make it a little more dramatic than coming in from the deck with a defensive 'What?' look on their face.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The New Phone Book's Here! The New Phone Book's Here!

Well, it might not be quite as thrilling as finding new phone books on my doorstep every few weeks but I just received my copy of The Servant of the Manthycore. This is a good looking, well made book. Double Edged Publishing did a good job of putting it together.

This is most fortuitous. I was looking for a reason to not do any real work this weekend, like put up Christmas lights, and now I have my excuse.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Discovering Deadlines

My search for a different market to send That Roman Story to led somewhere yesterday. I discovered an online magazine called Serpentarius. It looked good and I just couldn't resist the Latin connection. The only unexpected difficulty was that they were about to close the submission window on Monday. That meant the final edit needed to happen today. It did.

The story has been renamed "Exitus Lux Mundi" and is probably not conjugated correctly but I think it sounds catchy. Also, since another story with the same character has begun gathering notes on my laptop, this gives me a theme to hang future titles on: Partially Grammatical Pseudo Roman Phrases.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Market Search

Since Paradox is closed to new submissions I am looking for another place to send That Roman Story. (I'm thinking the title might end up being "Destiny's Collector" or something along those lines.) Ralan.com is a great resource but after scanning through several market listings I'm finding that there are some magazines that I just don't particularly care to be published in. I guess that is a self imposed limitation which is not in my best interest but some of these submission guidelines just make the magazine sound like no fun. A couple of them are so pretentious and condescending my first thought as I read them is, "Well, then screw you." After a bit of Christian reflection I usually temper that to a more sarcastic, "Yeah, OK, good luck with that." Anyhow, the search continues.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Good News

The good news yesterday was that the very responsive people at Flashing Swords accepted "The Battle of Raven Kill" for the May issue. The contract was offered and I signed it and sent it in yesterday afternoon. I'm thrilled to be part of that publication; especially because the whole story was begun with them in mind. Many thanks go out to the many people who helped make the story what it became.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Self Censorship

An interesting thing came up while I was making the final revisions to "The Battle of Raven Kill." The story centers around the hero and his drive to succeed; if he gives up, he loses, if he keeps fighting, he wins. There were a few bits where he prayed to "The Great God" which was a fantasy analogy to the God of the Bible. (By the way, when did He start making His internet appearances under the stage name 'G-d?' Did I not get the memo?) Anyhow, the hero comes to a point where he really is waffling on whether or not to continue the struggle. He sees something that cements his resolve and gives him the determination to finish. Originally as written the line went like this:

"He could not give up. God d*** him for ever thinking that he could."

As you can see, even though I typed it... I had reservations about it. I suppose it's not technically taking the Lord's name in vain but I still sat there for several minutes and went back and forth about it. In the end I just didn't feel comfortable with it and changed it to this:

"He could not give up. The Great God damn him for ever thinking that he could."

I think the first line has more emotional punch when I look at it with a clinical view. Still, I just couldn't bring myself to leave it in.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

OK, So That Was a Bit Ambitious

Didn't quite get to That Roman Story but I did finish the final edit of "The Battle of Raven Kill" and it has now been sent to Flashing Swords. With helpful pointers from the best beta reader in the free or oppressed worlds I think I have captured a touching, heartfelt story and still managed to bash a few brains in at the same time. I just hope the good people at Flashing Swords don't mind a story with no swords.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sunday Morning Goals

All right, I've got some work to do tomorrow morning. I've got two stories on the verge of final draft and I need to get them in shape for submissions next week. That Roman story has been reviewed by both my wife and my very good friend from across the pond. It feels good and just needs some smoothing. "The Battle of Raven Kill" needs a touch more work but I know what elements I need to add so it shouldn't be too difficult to finish. Then I need to target them and fire away. I wrote that Roman story with Paradox in mind but they still have "Such Great Faith" under consideration so I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do. "The Battle of Raven Kill" will be sent to Flashing Swords. That will make three stories out on the submission circuit; more than I've ever had before.

I think I might be getting the hang of this writing thing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Scarlet Blog Tour

Scarlet continues to excel. The vile and most foreign French continue to behave badly. The noble and almost pure Welshmen continue to needle the sides of the invaders. I'm continuing to work my way through this book at a slower than usual pace but I can assure you that it is worth your time.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Paradox Editor Interview

As some few of you may remember, I submitted my story "Such Great Faith" to Paradox magazine. I found a good interview with the editor, Christopher Cevasco. I think everyone who's interested in the mind of an editor should read both Day One and Day Two at Favorite PASTimes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My New Favorite Song

Sometimes we're lucky enough to see true beauty, like the faintest glimpse of what Heaven must be like. For me, it happened recently on the five hour drive back from Long Beach. Towards the end of the trip we were losing our patience and getting into a general grouchy mood. The kids were unruly and the baby was more fussy than usual. Just then my daughter decided to sing to him. After a few rounds of "If You're Happy and You Know It" and "Jesus Loves Me" she struck upon a song that still rings in my mind. She just kept singing 'everything is magical and wonderful' again and again and again. That was both the lyric and the chorus. It went on and on.

With her cute little six year old voice and wide open belief that everything was magical and wonderful, it's one of the few times I wish the car trip could have been just a bit longer.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Just Like That II

And so just like that I'm finished with the rough draft of this new Roman Empire story. This weekend we packed up and went down to my mom's cabin in Long Beach. My first morning there the story snapped into place, the characters firmed up, and about 1700 words flowed like oil from Saudi sand. Now I have to fix the beginning where I was floundering around and waiting for a story to appear.

I love it when the writing comes this easy because those times are few and far between. I was practically giddy when I typed in the last words. I really like how it turned out. Not only that, it freed up the rest of the weekend to play Civilization IV.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Just Like That

And just like that I'm in Barnes & Noble last night and I see a new book called Decline and Fall. It's about the downward spiral that Europe finds itself in today after hundreds of years of ruling the entire world. So now I will have to find a new working title that I can change at a later date. "The Roman Story" just doesn't do it for me but that might have to stick for a while.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

New Writing Project

The winner of My Next Writing Project is a story set in the last days of the Western Roman Empire. Right now I'm calling it "Decline and Fall" but that will surely change. This is the second story I've written that requires a good deal of research into all things Roman. The thing is, I could literally spend all day reading about the time period I've selected; and I've narrowed it down to somewhere around 380 to 400 AD in northern Italia. I'm trying to get the history of the setting correct because if I don't, there are plenty of people who will point it out. It's not a straight historical piece--there will be elements of the supernatural in it--but the intent is to be accurate. That gives me all kinds of excuses to waste time on 'research.'

Friday, November 09, 2007

Michael Ehart, Part Five

What was the process of getting the stories collected together with the new novella?

It was all Bill Snodgrass’s idea! (Ed. note: Bill is the founder and editor of The Sword Review.) I ended up writing five stories in an arc for The Sword Review. The second story was even better received than the first, and the next three let me build on some ideas about redemption and sacrifice that I had wanted to explore. Bill suggested that we issue them as a chapbook, which seemed like a pretty good idea, but in the months between I kept writing Servant stories, two of which are included in the book. I tweaked the shorts a little, and put one of the new stories and the novella “The Tears of Ishtar” in the middle, and added an epilogue which turned the book from a collection into an episodic novel.

At what point did you start thinking and writing with the entire arc in mind? How much revision needed to happen to make them flow?

Right after the second story, when I realized that I had a lot more to say. I realized that the Servant herself would not be able to say some of the things I wanted, and that it might be interesting to see her from another perspective. By adding the adopted daughter, it let me do a number of things, including add a glimmer of hope to the story, and work the contrast between the nine year old girl and the 600+ year old murderess. The arc pretty much created itself after that, once I decided exactly where the story needed to go. I had the foresight to leave substantial time slots for other stories, so later, when I added the novella and the new story that takes place just before the meeting of the Servant and her daughter, it was easy to plug them in. It helps that I did actually think out the time-line ahead of time. The main revisions for the book involved small continuity details and trimming some repetition in the stories that was needed as stand-alone shorts but redundant in an episodic novel.

How much collaboration did you have with your editors and illustrator?

Bill Snodgrass, the editor, has been great. I have already mentioned how this project was his idea. He also made some excellent suggestions for the novella, which he rightly saw as a chance to do what he calls “God pointing”—illustrating and conveying elements of our Christian faith without beating the reader over the head too brutally. The Servant lives and travels in Old Testament times, and is able to re-tell some of those stories in an oddly charming idiosyncratic manner.
A couple of months ago I had the most amazing experience. I first envisioned the Servant over 10 years ago, with that scene of her sitting on a rock, weeping and bleeding. When Rachel Marks, who did both the cover and the interior illustrations, sent me the first drawing, I was expecting something nice, but what I got was overwhelming. There on my computer was the scene, exactly as I had pictured it years ago. I was nearly in tears.

Rachel has done a fantastic job, both with her visions of the characters and situations, and in making sure I was comfortable with what she has done. She is a careful reader, so there wasn’t much that needed to change, other than a few small historical details. She was an absolute joy to work with, and I cannot imagine more exciting illustrations than she has provided. The readers of this book are really getting something special.

finis

And so that's it. Many thanks to Michael for participating. Now everyone needs to go out and buy The Servant of the Manthycore next week, and I know you're out there because I've never had more hits on this blog than during this interview.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Michael Ehart, Part Four

Where did you come up with a Manthycore for your antagonistic force? What is the legend behind it?

The ancient story tellers loved any sort of chimera, or beast made of the parts of different animals, like the Sphinx, Pegasus, fawns, and centaurs. I needed something that was more horrible than just getting whacked by some sword babe. The word manticore (I just used an archaic spelling for no better reason than I liked how it looked) is very old, and actually means “eater of men.” Some of the legends, which stretch in origin from Egypt to India, have the beast so ravenous that not a single trace is left of its victims other than their clothes. From there it was a short trip to making the beast a fastidious eater.

How did the series grow beyond the first story?

I honestly thought I was done. “Voice of the Spoiler” came from the single scene at the beginning, with the Servant sitting on a rock, weeping among the bodies of the slain, and a desire to tell a story about how love can sometimes make people do incredibly dreadful things. The scene was so powerful that I spent a couple of days working it out in my head how she got there, then decided to write the story in that same circular fashion.

More stories came because people liked it. It was a top ten finisher in the 2005 Preditors and Editors Poll, and a few folks emailed me and asked to see more. At first I couldn’t think of anything more I wanted to say about her, but then realized that even the slightest variations in the monotone of her pain and despair would stand out, and there might be more things that she could tell me. The funny thing is, the more I write about her, the more things I see that deserve to be told.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Michael Ehart, Part Three

What prompted you to select the ancient Near East as your setting for 'Servant'?

I became aware of the changing face of ancient history about 15 years ago, when a friend of mine gave me a subscription to Biblical Archeological Review as a birthday gift. This marvelous magazine was full of glossy color photos of artifacts and digs throughout the Near East. I was enthralled, and soon was raiding used book stores and abusing the inter-library loan program for anything on the subject I could lay hands on. The more I read, the more fascinated I became with the bronze age and the amazing civilizations that thrived there.

The first few books of the Bible are another great source, both in historical detail and in inspiration. It is hard for me to imagine a richer time and place in which to set a story. Our earliest myths and legends come from there, as well as the beginnings of law, mathematics, medicine, science and literature. The Epic of Gilgamesh was the first story we know of to be written down, and I remind everyone who will listen that it was a Sword and Sorcery tale!

How historically accurate do you try to be and do you consider 'Servant' to be historical fiction in any way?

In that I try to be as historically accurate as I can be within the framework of the fantasy story I am telling, yes, this might be considered historical fiction. I do take liberties occasionally, though, because the story is the thing. For instance, in one story chickens are mentioned, even though they were not domestically kept until a few hundred years later. But the line “You are not the man with the chickens!” delighted me. Sometimes I have changed the spellings of places or people’s names to make them more friendly to the modern eye. And in one story I moved a city to the other side of the Euphrates simply to streamline the narrative.

On the other hand, I spent a very enjoyable hour or so researching soap, none of which actually made it into the story except that a character was bathed and smelled good after. There is so much strange and wonderful stuff out there about the period, and it really has been under-utilized.

Do you plan on drawing anything further from the time period? Another series of stories perhaps?

There are a couple of minor characters that have appeared who may have their own stories to tell. Right now, though, I am buried under the novel based on the novella. It is kind of cool, because instead of working on the usual sequel, this timeline goes at right angles to the main story arc. The two additional stories (not in the book) that will appear in November in other magazines, “Stand, Stand, Shall They Cry” for Flashing Swords #8 and “Who Comes For the Mother’s Fruit” in Every Day Fiction both are following the new arc of “The Tears of Ishtar” and have a slightly different feel.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Michael Ehart, Part Two

The story continues...

When you decide on the ‘statement’ that your story can make how deliberately do you work it in?

Always, the story is the thing. It has to be entertaining enough to hold the interest of the reader and to be honest, my interest as well. I am a fiction writer, not a polemicist, plus I am writing in a pretty narrow genre, with a certain expectation of action and pacing. I certainly cannot go all expository on my readers.

At the same time, the thought is always in my head of what true thing am I trying to say here. Unlike Epic Fantasy, in Sword and Sorcery our protagonists are seldom trying to save the world, so making the stakes high enough lots of times involves a moral dilemma of some sort. Just as in most of the other pulp-born genres, there is usually a poor decision made, followed by the protagonist’s struggle to rectify the mistake, whether the story is a western, hard-boiled detective, noir or S&S.

I've seen you refer to your stories as 'inventory'. Do you then consider writing a profession or a hobby?

I think that comes from my years of writing freelance non-fiction for newspapers and magazines. The only way for a freelancer to make any money is to be prolific, and treat it like a job. And in truth, most people who write with the idea that it is a hobby will tend to produce hobby-quality work. As a reader I have very little time, and I want to feel that regardless of how much I paid to read something, or how much or little the writer was paid, that what I am reading is a professional-quality story.

What sort of process do you follow, beginning to end, for your stories?


There are two things that I need to have before starting a story. One is at least one interesting idea of a scene or a character in an uncomfortable position. The other is an idea of what truth there is to be told from that situation. It sounds corny, and a little contrived, but I really think that for any story to really have an impact it must tell the reader something deeper, in some way illuminate the human condition.
The process itself is pretty simple. Because I have very little time, the main obstacle is slotting in writing time. Fortunately I am a pretty fast writer, and having spent some time as a reporter I am not one to agonize. I do almost no re-writing; usually one draft and a clean-up.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Michael Ehart, Part One

Here is the first installment of my interview with Michael Ehart, author of The Servant of the Manthycore. I'm really jazzed about this collection of stories set in the ancient Near East and highly suggest that anyone interested in fantasy get a copy of it.

What path did you take toward becoming a writer?

It is a family curse!--- my mother is a romance writer, and like most kids, I thought what my parents did was perfectly normal. I sold my first magazine story at around age 15, nearly 40 years ago and made my first international sale around the same time. I’ve taken occasional breaks for the purpose of actually making a living, but I have also supported myself as a newspaper reporter, a technical writer, and for several years had a movie review column that ran in a dozen papers.

Is it a difficult transition to go from reporter to fiction writer?

In the end it all comes down to words in a line. The skills involved are not exactly the same, but the ability to write good sentences arranged in coherent paragraphs that tell a story carries over. The most valuable skill involved has got to be the ability to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Many writers, especially those starting out, tend to overwork and over analyze what they write. While it is important to fix persistent mistakes, you can pretty easily suck the life out of a story through too many revisions.

What changes have you seen in your early writing and what you're doing now?

I like to think it has improved! Early on I wrote very little fiction. I discovered that in the non-fiction world you could pre-sell a story to a magazine, which was enormously appealing, especially when I could look at my mother’s experiences in the realm of fiction. Rejection is a writer’s first experience, but you can gather a lot more of that rejection experience very quickly writing fiction.

In terms of the stories I tell, there has been a considerable growth in both how I tell a story and the risks I am willing to take with characters and situations. I have a lot more in life experiences and observations to bring to the table than even ten years ago, and therefore write with a much more confident voice than I did. One of the kindest things that anyone has said about my writing was in Michael Moorcock’s foreword to The Servant of the Manthycore, where he said, “The genre story usually dodges the facts of genuine tragedy while the myth, or the story which retains the quality of myth, does not.” Even ten years ago, in many ways I was faking it. Now I am more likely to have a foundation of real truth in the tales I spin.

It's Michael Ehart Week! Tune in tomorrow for the continuation.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Writing Lessons About Potential Readers

My wife and I rented the movie Next last night. It is very good by the way, especially if you're a fan of Nicolas Cage. What struck me as interesting was the way we tend to watch movies. I sit down and remove all distractions. I watch the opening credits and let myself get into the feeling and the flow of the movie. I pay attention in order to soak in everything that the film maker was trying to present. My wife, on the other hand, messes about with some mail on the coffee table, clicks over to a couple of things on her laptop, gets up and walks into the kitchen for something to drink, you know, does everything except pay attention. This has been standard procedure for almost twenty years now.

It struck me that there are people who read like this as well. While some will read with careful attention to your words, others will traipse through your prose like an unmedicated bipolar patient. Long, complicated sentences that are designed to evoke emotions from the depths of one's soul are probably lost on them. (My wife, however, is still more emotionally attuned than I am, so maybe this lesson just falls flat in her regard.) I suppose the thing to remember is that what you set up in Chapter 1 may have been glossed over and forgotten by the time we get to Chapter 10 so don't assume that your readers are following you. I'd advise sticking in a reminder or two along the way. Kind of like stopping the movie after an hour and saying, "No, he only sees two minutes into his own future."

Friday, November 02, 2007

Scarlet: Opening Remarks

The first few chapters of Scarlet are proving that the book is sure to live up to high expectations. There are a couple of things I've noticed that I can comment on now. First, it's written in both first and third person. It is the tale of Will Scarlet who's in prison awaiting the hangman's noose because of his association with Rhi Bran y Hud, otherwise known as King Raven the Enchanter. Will is reciting his story to a scribe who's been assigned to take his confession. The first person narration is a combination of standard narrative and 'meta narrative'; the first is the story the scribe is writing down and the other is Will and the scribe talking about writing down the story. Then after a couple of chapters Lawhead switches to third person and follows some other characters for a while. It is an interesting POV choice and I think it works quite well.

The second thing is that I was completely wrong when I thought Will Scarlet was actually King William the Red. The King is still in the story but he is not the title character. Will Scarlet has the given name of William Scatlocke and he is of Norman and Saxon lineage. His tale begins when he leaves his landless lord in search of this mysterious phantom that menaces the greenwood on the marches...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Reasons For an Early Failure

Once again it is NaNoWriMo time and once again I have considered participating. Instead of actually trying to accomplish 50000 words in one month I would much rather put my time into surrendering faster than the French Army against [insert opponent here].

1. When I write I like to think that maybe the first words I put down are publishable.
2. When I write I like to think that maybe the first words I put down are coherent.
3. There are so many other things I could fail at this month and all of them require less effort.
4. I think it would only take eleven days before I did nothing but type "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" and that can't possibly be good.
5. I'm good enough at ignoring friends and family right now, thank you very much.
6. The NaNo site is probably down anyway.
7. 'Motivation' and 'inspiration' will sometimes come to me through randomly flailing at the keyboard but experience has shown that it doesn't happen often enough.
8. Why participate in a good thing when you can ridicule it and still improve your self esteem?
9. After a few attempts at writing a novel have fallen flat I'm wondering what the advantage is to rapid failure with no hope of recovery vice slow progress that retains the glimmer of possible success.
10. Who are we trying to kid, 50000 words isn't really much of a novel.

Other reasons you may think of will be gladly reviewed and likely satirized.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Baby on the Ceiling

If you want to hear the most satisfying baby belly laugh you have to play this game. You take one Draper baby and grasp firmly about the middle. Then you lift baby up above your head and slowly raise him until his back is flat against the ceiling. Then shout in your happiest voice, "Baby on the ceiling!"

Works every time.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Least Surprising Event of the Week

No, not that Britney went back to rehab. I received a kindly rejection email from the agent who was looking over 1000 Things About Me. Now that I've decided it's really a memoir more than anything else I can go back through and craft it that way. Even I can admit there is always room for improvement in my writing, stellar as it often is. And for my next serving of humble pie, some time tomorrow I will get my beta reader's report on 'The Battle of Raven Kill.' I can tell already that it's going to be brutal. She asked me how 'receptive' I was to 'suggestions.' Oy! That's the equivalent of an oncologist insisting you sit down before going over the test results.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Triond: The Pennies Keep Rolling In

More earnings for Sep/Oct! Twenty and Seven were the cents earned over the last month. That puts my grand total at about $1.75. I posted another article in Life Lessons From the Marines and I'm thinking about how to do a few more. Interestingly enough, even some of my earlier articles from last June are still getting a hit or two every month.

Monday, October 22, 2007

CSFF Tour for October

This month we take a look at The Bark of the Bog Owl by Jonathan Rogers. This has a well developed website that I suggest everyone go to. The book is about a regular boy who must become King. This is a comfortable theme and has been seen many times in YA fiction, mostly because all ten year old boys dream of becoming a powerful Warrior King. The Wilderking Trilogy does not disappoint and will be loved by boys everywhere.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My Two Favorite Words

This afternoon Bravo had a marathon of Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton. I love that show. It is always fascinating to listen to accomplished people discuss the creative process. (Plus Robin Williams unleashed is hilarious.) At the end of each interview Lipton goes through a series of questions that includes "What is your favorite word?" Although the trend at the moment seems to be Stephen Colbert's 'truthiness', I have two that I cannot decide between: Wrath and Sorrow.

Wrath is just a fun word to say. Plus it's got that cool W at the beginning. It's like it's saying 'hey I could be just four letters but I pack so much emotional punch I had to reach out an grab an extra.' It's also almost single handedly responsible for making Star Trek II the best Trek movie ever.

Sorrow is larger than life in much the same way. It conveys so much more than just saying 'really, really sad.' It has that sense of gut wrenching sadness along with regret and pain that is never, ever going to stop.

So those are my two favorite words as far as I know. Any auditions for additions will be considered.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Battle's First Draft Finished

I finished 'The Battle of Raven Kill' in first draft form and have sent it off for the undoubtedly substantial improvement that will come when my very good friend goes over it and points out where I've been dense, daft, and just plain dorky. Now I have to seriously think about the next writing project. Or rather, which of my current writing projects to pick back up. I have two stories now that are still in rough draft form and need my attention. (By the way, I consider that first blast through to The End to be the rough draft and only after going back through and trying to bring the Story out of it do I consider it a first draft. In other words, rough draft and first draft are two different things. Until it is in first draft form, there's no point in sharing it because there's nothing there to share.) My inclination is to turn towards the reworking of 'Skyman' because I have a clearer idea of how to get it into first draft form. I seem to be thinking up bits and pieces of scenes for my novel project Broken so I'll let it continue in that fashion. In other news, I still haven't heard anything back from the agent looking at 1000 Things About Me. Onward and upward.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Writing Lessons From Chopping Things Off

This morning I made a decision that greatly improved The Battle of Raven Kill. I chopped off the first four pages. Like an executioner's axe already bloody from a busy punch list, I carved away the pages of setup and description that I had previously thought necessary. Why? Because they were slowing down the story and kept bringing up more questions than they answered. Many people feel that they must explain things to their readers early on in the story or else the reader won't 'get it.' What I found when I tried to do this was that I wasn't making things clearer, I was making them murkier. Questions like 'who are these people?' and 'what is their relationship to the main character?' kept coming up. Every time I tried to work on that section I found I needed to expand things when I knew I wanted to contract them. The solution was beginning to become apparent and this morning I just did it. Reading through the reworked opening showed me that everything I was trying to set up could be done in one paragraph. It is simply much better this way.

Added bonus: I saved the writing to another file and now I have Deleted Scenes that I can add to the DVD.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Last Dragon

I just finished reading the first chapter of the book Last Dragon, by J.M. McDermott, which is going to be published by Wizards of the Coast in February 2008. Wizards of the Coast is a gaming company that began just down the road from me. They were the people who brought us Magic: The Gathering. (I'm pretty sure they also were the U.S. distributor for Pokemon cards.) Later they bought the company that created Dungeons & Dragons. They have also branched out into publishing; first with books about their various gaming systems and now with a general speculative fiction line.

Last Dragon is a fantasy about a woman searching for her lost love. She apparently builds and destroys a few kingdoms along the way. The story opens with the main character, Zhan, having a bit of a mental breakdown. She's also been reduced to vagabond status, working for pennies and fighting to stay alive on the streets of a foreign city. McDermott is absolutely amazing at creating the look and feel of this rancid and rotting underclass society. The opening scenes are a bit confusing but if you follow along you see the character begin to unfold. Then you get to some action scenes and the Meeting of the Mentor (thought I'd throw in a little Christopher Vogler) and that's where I got the feeling that the story was really going to take off. McDermott's writing is quick and his imagery is outstanding. Last Dragon shows a lot of promise.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Scarlet

Rain today. Endless grey. But all is not lost! My review copy of Scarlet by Stephen R. Lawhead arrived. This cannot be a bad book. The reading will commence and the review will be forthcoming. This of course means that Gardens of the Moon and Dune are on hold.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

WOTS and the Long Dark

It's been a long weekend and the sun has set. Kids have been fed. Saved episodes of The Daily Show have been watched. Here's the rundown on the last two classes of the day, The Way of Story and Crafting the Short Story.

The Way of Story had two very good points. Conflict is crucial to a story and there are three levels: external, interpersonal, and inner. Next was another take on story structure: Problem, Desire, Opponent, Plan, Final Battle, Self Revelation, New Life. These are all good things to internalize as a writer so that they come out naturally without having to laboriously slave away to include them.

Crafting the Short Story turned out to be more of a motivational session that covered a lot of the same ground I've seen before. So it was good but not dazzling.

Over all the classes and workshops were good and the weekend was worth the hundred bucks or so. Right now it's a lot to take in so I will try to absorb it all by going over my notes next week. As for now, it's time for lights out and go back to work in the morning.

WOTS Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

OK, in a rush to catch up, here's the skinny on Sunday morning. The two workshops were Who's Zooming Whom by Garth Stein, and Dr. Frankenstein's Character Lab by Craig English.

Garth is a fantastic speaker and was very engaging. His background is in documentary film making and screenwriting. I've found that anyone with a background in the visual arts is a great person to teach writing. They point out how your reader will be visualizing what you write and 'running the movie' through their head. Forget about that at your peril. He also led the class through dramatic structure which is very specific and defined in screenwriting. It is a tremendous help to fiction.

The character lab was primarily about personality types. Craig went through some of the differences between men and women; which we've always known were huge but now science is proving it through research in brain chemistry. Of course, when you put up a white board and encourage the audience to throw out male and female characteristics for a list, you are just asking for trouble. In a good natured way, he got it. His take on personalities was all about attachment theory which is good stuff but way too in depth for this post.

Lunch at Petosa's deli was so-so.

WOTS Saturday Afternoon

I was unable to post anything about yesterday afternoon because I had to run home and host a wine tasting party with several friends. (Of course, the most expensive wine was fairly middling.)

The two sessions I attended were Technology and Being Unforgettable. The technology class was primarily centered around blogging and establishing a web presence for the purpose of marketing your work. There were some good ideas and I'm going to use some of them but the really interesting part of the class was a couple of people who had no idea what a blog was, what internet forums were, or even how to spell www. Most of us were somewhere around my skill/knowledge level and a few were obviously experts in 'web platforms.' This made for a difficult time for the presenter, Scot Herrick, as he tried to keep things worthwhile and interesting for us all.

The next workshop was taught by Laura Whitcomb. She had five techniques, like distilling dialog down to the very essence and creating interesting characters by giving them baggage, for making your manuscript stand out amongst all the others. Her central premise was that if you have an interesting beginning, and really hook the ending into that beginning, you can create a sense of closure and completeness that will leave an agent thinking it was a great read and forgive you any mistakes in the middle. Clever advice and well worth working towards.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

WOTS Morning Sessions

The class on anti-heroes was outstanding. It was an excellent summation of what I've kind of known about anti-heroes but never put down in words. The presenter, Jessica Page Morrell, has done her homework and captured the character well. We all know about the rascally rogue or charming criminal who is your stereotypical anti hero but she also catalogs several other categories as well. To me, they seem to fall into two types, aforementioned rogues like Han Solo and the everyman/loser like Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman. Morrell has some great advice about writing in general that will surely be summarized here in the near future but this lunch break isn't as long as it first looked. More to come later this evening.

The class on mystery writing was forgettable.

Writers Conference: Start Your Engines

Today I'm off to a local writers conference called Write on the Sound in the beautiful city of Edmonds. This will be my second time there and the sessions I've signed up for are:

Color Them Gray- The Anti Hero
Mystery Writing
Technology For Writers
Being Unforgettable
Who's Zooming Whom?
Dr. Frankenstein's Character Lab
The Way of Story
Crafting the Short Story

More in-depth reports will follow later today.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

How to Confirm That You Don't Know All That Much

One easy step: High School English.

So I'm like all about writing and stuff. Son Number One is working on his High School curriculum by correspondence. He's all, "Hey, Dad, what's a predicate?" And I'm all, "Dude! How should I know?" And he's like, "Well then what's the subject of this sentence?" So I go, "Subject is like a noun or something." So he gets all puzzly looking and points to some stupid rule. And I'm like, "Hey don't get all up in my face, man." And he's all, "Do you even know what you're talking about?" And then I'm all like up in the hizzy and ready to throw down. Then like dinner's totally ready so I can escape and hopefully not have to go through that again. I spent all that time ignoring my teachers in High School so that I wouldn't have to do this kind of thing.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Vampires Just Won't Die

Daughter Number One went to the emergency room last night and that provided me with a chance to watch some new show on CBS about vampires. This brings us an interesting phenomena that has applications to the writing world. Just about every fantasy agent and publisher says no more vampire stories and yet here we are. These things just do not die. I keep a close eye on the Just Released shelf at B&N and I don't think a week ever goes by without a vampire story on it. They're everywhere. I don't see what the appeal is since I don't read them; I have my suspicions but this is a family blog. In any event, somebody in the publishing world must be accepting these manuscripts and that brings me to the point of this post. Are these vampire stories really 'fresh and different' like most writers guidelines demand? Or are they simply rehashes of every vampire trope ever done. (They've even been portrayed as alien beings and genetic mutations so that science fiction writers/readers could have their fun as well. But in the end it's always the same kind of stuff.) I have a feeling that vampires are on a certain wave of popularity now and the publishing world will keep them there as long as possible.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Writing Lessons From Dune

As I seem to do often, I've started reading two books at once. I found a nice looking hardback copy of Dune by Frank Herbert on the special rack at Borders. I sat there and read it for a while and then decided to buy it. I first read the book when I was a kid and I remembered thinking it was incredibly boring. I skipped through huge chunks of text trying to find the battle scenes. That's a lot like how I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Since Tolkien grew on me with age I figured I'd try Herbert again as well.

The book is very good and there are a few lessons to be drawn from it:

1. Herbert shifts POV to several different characters within the same scene. I think it works fairly well and it is leading me to lighten up on the strict point of view rules I've grown accustomed to.

2. The chapter headings have quotes from future history books written about the period about to be covered. Some would say this lessens the impact of the various plot twists but I think it's really cool. You know what's about to happen and you're anxious to find out how.

3. Herbert uses extensive direct thoughts in italics. You just don't see that very often anymore but I think it helps effectively unveil the character.

I'm sure there are other lessons as well but none I could find by page 65.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Triond Update

My series on Life Lessons From the Marines has netted me an earth shattering 52 pennies for August/September. It's further proof that you can get paid by Triond for posting content on their sites. It's also further proof that you don't make enough to quit your second job. I've got one more article to post on Combined Arms and then I might start tackling current events that can be handled the Marine Corps way.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Trip Through the Tri-Cities

Well, what can I say about the Tri-Cities? A couple of cool bridges. Hanford nuclear facility. Zip's Burgers. Poor little West Richland hanging out there as the fourth city in the Tri-Cities Metropolitan Area.

I was in and out of town in about six hours so there was a lot of driving but not a lot of sight seeing. There does look like a lot of potential for a branch of some kind so it was a good trip. The mission I was assigned was accomplished and some good intelligence was gathered. Now we just have to move on to implementation. (And that always seems to be the hardest part.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Not So Evergreen State

I'm here in Eastern Washington again, scouting out potential prospects for my company's expansion plans. It was a long drive this morning and after passing through Moses Lake... I may have to apologize to the city of Yakima.

Today was Spokane and tomorrow will be the Tri-Cities. The last time I was in Spokane was for the '76 World Expo. (Or was it '74?) No matter, I don't remember a thing. What I've found during my quick trip is that Spokane has the following:

1. Lots of old brick buildings in the downtown core, which is cool.
2. Lots of graffiti on anything that remains stationary for longer than 42 seconds, which is not so cool.
3. Far too many one way streets.
4. Barnes & Noble.
5. Gonzaga University (which is embarrassing for me to say but I had no idea where exactly it was all these years.)
6. Interminable waits for trains along Havana St.
7. At least one rainy day per year.

There were other things I noticed as well but those mostly have to do with the number of underground utility contractors there are and that just isn't nearly as entertaining.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mars Hill Classified

This series is an excellent one and it is featured in this month's CSFF tour. The particular book today is The Return by Austin Boyd. The series centers around one of my favorite science fiction topics: Mars and life thereon. You just can't go wrong with stuff like this.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Writing Lessons From a Rainy Sunday

Sunday produces other things in this house except watching Peyton Manning embarrass the 'Defense of the Week.' This morning I woke up early enough to go running in the rain and write a bit more of my current novel attempt. I had a scene in mind and it had gotten to the point where I felt I could write it. The scene involves a new character that I want to add to the story, a bad guy that will be the main character's foil, and I had envisioned an extended conversation with a goodly amount of detail. What happened was something different. This lesson goes along the lines of previous ones where I point out that you should say what you need to say and then shut up. I got to the halfway point of the planned conversation and realized that it was an excellent stopping point. (I was also running out of time before the kids woke up.) The rest of what was said could remain unsaid. This creates more suspense as the reader tries to figure out what might happen next. I know how the scene went but the reader doesn't have to until later.

So next time you're writing, try cutting a scene in half and see what you're left with. It might work for you as well.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Gardens Goes All Middle Eastern On Me

Gardens of the Moon is holding up fairly well. The second part has opened up with the action shifting to the quasi Middle East city of Darujhistan and an assassin's guild war that is fought along the shadowy rooftops of the city at night. There is a very annoying character that appears to be central to the action and I'm hoping he gets killed off very soon. The pace of the book is slowing but it is still interesting enough to hold my attention. The writing is good and Erikson has several cool way of turning a phrase. The characters from the first part were really starting to grow on me so I hope they get back on stage soon.

In other news, I've got two things I'm trying to write this weekend. One is a time travel flash fiction piece that is taken from a story I wrote about fifteen years ago. The other is a new scene with a new character in my slowly simmering novel Broken.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Life Lessons

I've started adding more articles to my series on Life Lessons From the Marines. They can be found at the link here or to your right. Once again, if your life is all screwed up (and statistics say that everybody else's life is) you can find help. Apply these principles for the ages and your problems will either melt away or be consumed in the pryoclastic glory of an M18A1 Claymore mine.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Identifying the Middle of Nowhere: A Comparative Methodology

Method One: Define nowhere. It is typically a barren wasteland filled with unending rolling vistas of scrub trees and brown grass. If you find yourself driving through it you must keep a careful count of abandoned wellhouses and dirt roads. This is your track to the middle. When they thin out to four per mile you are getting close. There will also be a marked increase in beer cans, always domestic, and plastic grocery bags swirling in dust devils. Eventually you will be filled with a sense of impending dread and hopelessness. You have arrived.

Method Two: Look for a sign on the road that says 'Yakima, Washington.'

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Anatomy of a Thorough Proposal

Well I've given my best shot at the required new version of a proposal for 1000 Things About Me. It is now in the hands of the United States Postal Service and the unpredictable whims of the Mail Truck Faeries. If it arrives safely then I should know within six weeks if I am due for boundless fame and glory or something far short of that. I have plumbed the depths of my brain to come up with more stuff to put in the proposal and I think I came up with some valuable verbiage. If nothing else, this exercise has helped me focus on what I really think this list is and what the marketing angle should be. If crossing fingers did anything to influence the fae, I would do it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Fairy v. Faerie

I suppose I should explain why I use two different spellings for faerie. To me, they're two different things. 'Fairy' describes a Disneyish magical being, quite small, that is pretty and happy and beaming with light. They dance and fly and are really only useful as window dressing in stories I tell my daughter.

'Faerie' describes a being of ancient myth and eldritch magic. They are not happy all the time. They can be rather spiteful. They have no problem playing tricks on mortals that end up Very Badly for said mortals. I also refer to them as 'The Fae' when discussing them in general. This is intentionally done in order to make them sound a bit spookier. By giving them free will and potentially malevolent natures, they become much more interesting as story devices.

So that's why the two spellings. Maybe some day I'll also describe why I think gray and grey are two different colors.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Not Quite As Interesting


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere are
23
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Well, This is Interesting...

Robyn Russel at The Amy Rennert Agency just sent me an email requesting a full copy of 1000 Things About Me. Even though I've been sending out proposals for weeks I have to admit that this caught me by surprise. I've never actually printed this thing out so I'm not sure what it looks like. She also asked for a thorough proposal. Hmm.... That's what I thought I already sent in. Guess I have some work to do this weekend.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gardens of the Moon

I'm taking a break from The Dresden Files to read Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson. I forget who suggested this series to me (I think it was Howard von Darkmoor) but I thought it looked good so I picked up the first book. It is good.

But it is also a bit confusing. I normally suggest that writers should just get right into the story and worry about explaining things later. This is exactly what Erikson has done but I'm on page 147 and I still a bit in the dark about what's going on. There have been some explanations about the magic system and character backgrounds and there have been enough historical references for me to gather what's happening on the political front but I'm a bit lost on the overall arc of the story. There have been three or four times where I've sat back and wondered what that scene was all about. At first I thought it would clear itself up but that hasn't happened yet.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a good book with great characters and compelling writing. I'm just a little mystified.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dresden 4: A Fairy Tale

I finished the fourth book in The Dresden Files, Summer Knight, while in Hawaii. It is very good but it doesn't have the knockout punch of Grave Peril. What I noticed is a sense of maturity in the series; there are several elements from previous books that make their way into the story. Plus, Jim Butcher's writing style is growing on me.

The plot involves a war between the faerie courts that Harry gets involved with. He'd rather not be anywhere near dueling fae but there's a little matter with the wizard vampire war that he started in the last book. If he doesn't make nice with the Winter Queen he will be found guilty by the White Council and given over to the Red Court as a peace offering. Quick note: peace offerings to vampires work wonderfully unless you're the offering. Another quick note: this all makes perfect sense if you've read the first three novels.

Butcher's best decision with this work is to reveal more of the continuing characters he's developed. That is the key to the survival of any series. They cannot become a rehash of the same story told again and again. (BTW, that's exactly what happened to Star Trek and James Bond, which is why both franchises are getting restarted.) In this book, we find out about Harry's first love, his first mentor, his current love, and some kids he helped a couple of books ago. All of this brings the reader in for a satisfying journey.

Three stars for Summer Knight.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Swimming At Sunrise

This morning I drove out to Ala Moana Beach just before sunrise and went for a swim in the ocean. The sun comes up over the hotels of Waikiki this time of year and the sky was just beginning it's turn from black to blue. Out over the water crawled a massive thunderhead with rain dragging beneath it like it was smudged by a painter's brush.

The beach was populated by surfers and an early morning yoga class. While swimming I was able to watch the clouds change from purple to peach to yellow. When the sun rose over the glass and steel of Honolulu the colors in the sky drained out of the clouds and hid in the storm below as rainbows from God.

It is a good thing to be reminded in whose hand true power and majesty lies.

Friday, August 24, 2007

This Guy Can Write

I have added Micheal Ehart to my list of Links Notorius because he has some excellent stories that have run in The Sword Review. They're set in a quasi-fictional Ancient Near East world (which is like The Bomb or something, whatever the kids are saying these days) and the main character lives an eternal life in the service of a really nasty critter who likes to munch on dead human flesh. The Servant of the Manthycore series is good, gritty writing with solid characters and clever plotting. I highly recommend them as well as the new novella that will be published soon.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hawai'i Is Not Just Palm Trees and White Beaches

Today I did something that I think is pretty neat but most of you will think is stupid. I took some of my companies line cards and made a few sales calls. Yes, I had just gotten off a twelve hour shift and could have gone back to my room and slept. However, I figured it would be fun to see if I could drum up some business.

So I drive around Pearl Harbor on H1 and go to the James Campbell Industrial Park. This is an area with smoke stacks and dirty trucks. There's garbage blowing on the street and a lot of broken chain link fences. I stopped by a few places and was marginally successful at seeing people.

As I was driving out of the area I was struck by the fact that you don't tend to see this place on postcards and calendars.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Writing Lessons From Classified Briefings

What I'm doing here in Hawai'i is running the Sustainment cell of MARFORPAC's Crisis Action Team that is participating in a KTO exercise.

(Definition time:
Sustainment= Everything that goes into maintaining a military force engaged in combat operations.
MARFORPAC= Short version on Marine Forces Pacific, the headquarters of all of the Marine Corps forces in the Pacific ocean area.
Crisis Action Team= A room full of Marines that track a bunch of information fed up to us from subordinate units.
KTO= Korean Theatre of Operations, basically the Korean penninsula and all areas around it.)

My main job is to gather up all the important info and provide the commanding general with a briefing regarding our cell. I try to be brief. Some people do not try to be brief. This is annoying.

My writing lesson from this is to say what you need to say and then stop writing. You really run the risk of causing your audience to lose interest, shuffle through the other papers on the desk, and start checking their watches. As a writer you are looking for different reactions than that.

Monday, August 20, 2007

CSFF Tour From a Distance

The watch schedule here in Hawai'i is pretty odd so I only have a couple of hours in the afternoon of free time. Here's this month's CSFF tour.

Legend of the Firefish by George Polivka.

Hope you like it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hawai'i For Those That Hate Beaches

Hawai'i is much the same as when I left it. The same lazy tropical breezes flow across the lanai I'm sitting on, the same colorful and inquisitive birds hop about the furniture, and the same highway projects are blocking the same roads next to Pearl Harbor.

As I thought, there is no one around to check in with so I have the day to acclimatize before starting the exercise. Since I'll be spending most of my time in a crowded, air conditioned room with no windows it's important to get acclimated. I might go out to Ala Moana Beach again but I'll probably find places like the one I'm at: comfy chairs, cold drinks, and swaying palm trees. A laptop on my lap and CNN playing in the background.

It just doesn't get any better than this.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

How to Get Arrested In Two Easy Steps

It's travel time again and I'm going to Hawaii for a week to participate in an exercise for the Marine Corps Reserve. So I'm standing in line for security at SeaTac Airport and I see an interesting lesson that we'll call the Two Step Plan. This is how you turn your day into an event to be remembered:

1. Start yelling and swearing at the TSA supervisor.
2. Keep yelling and swearing at the TSA supervisor.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tragedy, Joy, and Why We're All Here

Son Number One has a friend on the swim team named Andrew that we had not seen this season. We found out yesterday that he died shortly after Memorial Day from a congenital problem with his vascular system. This is upsetting in several ways. First, thirteen year old boys are not supposed to die; they are supposed to play basketball and eat cheeseburgers and dream of becoming an astronaut and fall in love with the girl next door. They are the very essence of vibrancy and potential and enthusiasm and life. They are not supposed to lie on the couch suffering from stroke symptoms and tell their mother they don't want to die. There is a fundamental sense of unfairness here that makes me both sad and angry this morning.

Second, it was undetectable and unpreventable. Andrew was born with a countdown clock that would give him a sixth of the time that most people get here on Earth. He was destined to die early and thus not experience all this world has to offer. Again unfair. You see, if you're smart enough you can prevent disease. If you're quick enough you can prevent accidents. But there's no way to reach inside yourself and rearrange your capillaries.

So now I look at each one of my children and I wonder what their countdown clock says. I want to know how much more of this life they get to enjoy. It is unsettling to be kept in the dark about these things.

But despite the anger and sadness and resignation there is also joy. Andrew was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. He is with the Father and he is whole and complete and perfect and he doesn't have to worry about which veins go where. And that, beloved, is a reason for joy and celebration. His mother is like a rock, albeit a misty eyed rock, in her conviction that Andrew is in a much better place.

Her faith in God's providence is how Andrew's death is an event that ultimately glorifies God. I can't always explain His purpose in these matters but I can see when things happen for a reason. I know that it is really God who prevents disease and accidents. Or doesn't. And I know that He moves this world with a sure hand. We're here to trust in that hand and to keep our focus on Him.

Andrew now swims in living water. His arms never grow weary. His legs always kick true. And he is surrounded by a crowd that never stops cheering.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Slow Going

I'm having a tough time getting through the first draft of 'The Battle of Raven Kill.' Like several of my concept pieces there's action and imagery but no pathos. I'm trying to work in ways to build that up and might be able to pull it off in the end but for now it's a little weak. One problem is lack of dialog between hero and villain. Another problem is lack of single villain. (Which might explain the first problem.) I've also confined the action to a single bridge. All of which are mounting up to cause problems, or rather, challenges. And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Writing Lessons From Grave Peril

Grave Peril fulfilled the promise its beginning made by ending in exemplary fashion. Butcher pulled off an incredibly clever and unforeseen ending that wrapped up the storyline and saved the day neat as you please. That's the focus of the writing lesson for today, or perhaps it is just a writing question whose answer will sound like a writing lesson and I'm good with that, too.

The question is this: How smart do you have to be to be a writer? All of us have read a book and thought, Any idiot could have written that. Perhaps we were correct. Perhaps an idiot did write it. The really clever, really smart and fascinating plot twists are what we all like to discover when we read. We hope that the author is smarter than us because we sure can't figure out how to get the hero out of this mess. This maxim would suggest that you have to be pretty intelligent to be a successful writer. Unless you write chick lit. Don't get me started.

So the actual lesson part of this post is: Agent 86

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bullfinch

Over the weekend I acquired Bullfinch's Mythology from my favorite bookstore, William James, Bookseller, in Port Townsend, WA. This is a book that I've been meaning to put on my shelf for quite some time but haver never gotten around to it. After reading through some of it, I now understand that it is a type of book that you have on your shelf, brag about how erudite you are because it is so prominently displayed, but never read. It is painfully dry but, I believe, a necessary reference for fantasy writers.

Also, last night I was reading faerie poems to Daughter Number One. When we got to The Song of the Bluebell Fairy I realized that there was a bluebell flower right outside the bedroom window. I looked at her conspiratorially and mentioned that since it was sundown there might be a faerie dancing beneath the flower right now. But we'd have to be quiet. We stood on the bed and slowly raised the shades. Just about then Sons Number Two and Three began making a ruckus so unfortunately all the fae creatures must have been scared off. We'll have to try again some other time.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Grave Peril's Michael

Michael is referred to as the Fist of God by Harry Dresden on a few occasions. He is a modern day knight who has a wife and kids and an F-150. He also has a sword called Amoracchius which has a large spike set into its hilt; one of the three nails from the Crucifixion. (One character is told this and says, "What, you mean the Crucifixion?) Michael has been entrusted with this sword, by whom we don't know yet, and he smites the enemies of God with it. He is a rock solid character who would assault the Gates of Hell if God told him to do it. And he would win.

One of his best lines comes when he and Dresden are about to attend the vampire ball. Dresden tells him that there might be innocent people in there being prepped as food and Harry tells him not to do anything stupid like try to rescue them, thus breaking the truce and bringing unholy retribution. Michael just looks at him and says, "I am what I am." Dresden sulks.

As I said before, Michael is not played as a stereotype and that is refreshing. He admonishes Harry every time he swears. He warns him not to mock God. Harry generally behaves himself around him. There is also the gentle persuasion that Michael just exudes by his mere presence. The novels have established that Dresden does not agree with God's hands off policy and just doesn't understand why He can allow all this bad stuff, that Harry feels is up to him to clean up, happen. This book has the two of them working closely together for the first time although they have a somewhat close relationship from the past. Harry is seeing how the power of God works through His creation and is starting to come around. As I understand it, Michael will appear in later books as well. It will be good to see him progress and we will all be rooting for him to bring Harry Copperfield Blackstone Dresden to the Lord.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

More On Dresden 3

Grave Peril is turning out to be a really, really good book. As I said before, the first two books were interesting and everyone was saying the third was much better. I found out today just how much better. While waiting around at Son Number One's swim meet I got to read several chapters through the middle. The Christian character, Michael, is rock solid and brought tears to my eyes on two occasions. Once when he was talking to Harry in the hospital with his prematurely born son clinging to life, and a second time when he was overwhelmed by a horde of ravenous vampires. He screamed out the name of Jesus (in Latin, which just made it all the more cool) and blasted the lot of them with a Holy power that continues to bring Dresden closer to God.

Despite the swearing and oversexualized nature of the vampires, this is turning out to be a pretty good Christian book. Harry Dresden has said in other books that he doesn't believe in God. Then he corrects himself, it's not that he doesn't believe, it's that God and him just don't see eye to eye. That relationship is now explored in greater detail. What is most impressive about Butcher's writing here is that he doesn't go for the stereotypical, TV evangelist, cardboard Christian caricature. Michael is played straight and sincere, as close to scriptural as can be, given the urban fantasy setting. Even though I'm still not finished with Grave Peril, I can give it an enthusiastic 3 1/2 stars.

BTW, Son Number One got a first place ribbon in the 50 meter freestyle.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

50/50

I'm up to 28 proposals sent out to agents regarding 1000 Things About Me. Half of them have responded and gently dashed my hopes against the rocks of despair. OK, well maybe not rocks but definitely course sand. And I wouldn't quite say 'dashed' but maybe something like, I don't know, 'mooshed.' Come to think of it, despair is a bit of an overstatement. But, well... whatever.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More on Robin Parrish

Robin is also the creator of Infuze Magazine. This is an interesting e-zine that deals with all things creative and how they work through a faith in God. There's a lot of stuff to browse through on the site, from blogs to general news, and it is well worth your time.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Fearless Tour

This month's CSFF tour is Fearless by Robin Parrish.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Birthday Month

Son Number Three turned 1 year old. I've noticed that the birthday parties have become less grand for each kid as the years go by. Number One got a party in Vegas for his first, Number Three got some carrot cake at Old Country Buffet.

By the way, I turn 39 tomorrow and will celebrate by watching my saved Daily Show episodes.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Easy Bake Butchery

According to this article, Easy Bake ovens are being recalled because hundreds of children are harmed by them. They are getting their fingers caught and getting seriously burned. One even required a partial amputation.

OK, I have to say this. Who are these moron children and how come they don't possess enough common sense to avoid getting hurt by a stupid toy? Is it really that difficult to understand that sticking your fingers into hot metal things might be inherently dangerous? Next thing they'll be doing is shooting plastic torpedoes down their throats and wondering why they suddenly can't breathe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dresden 2 v. Dresden 3

I've finished the second book in The Dresden Files, Fool Moon. It had several good things going for it. Harry Dresden comes along as a great character, lots of good magic explanations, and a truly vicious werewolf thing that was one part Rin Tin Tin and seventeen parts Terminator. It was a basically solid and enjoyable book. The one thing that annoyed me as a writer and a reader was Butcher's timing. Characters simply say and think too many things while the werewolves are charging at them from a few feet away. Not only does the timing issue arise in close quarters combat, it happens on a larger scale as well. Too many things are going on in what seems to me as too short a time frame.

Now for a word on Book 3, Grave Peril. It is very good right out of the gate. Butcher employs one of my favorite tricks as a writer. He starts with the second chapter instead of the first. The story opens with him and some other character racing across town to stop something awful from happening. You have no idea what is going on but it is exciting nonetheless. Then you have a very eerie scene between the good guys and a ghost that is in a ward full of newborns, sweetly singing them to death.

Looks like Book 3 is the breakout book of the series.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Changes At The Sword Review

Interesting things are happening with the good people over at Double Edged Publishing. According to this article they will soon be launching a new magazine called MindFlights that will be a combination of their two strongest brands. I think this is a good move for them and I'm looking forward to the new site.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Hits Keep On Coming

Got a rejection email from Relief over the weekend. That's probably a good thing because they were not a paying market and I have a couple of possibilities for further submissions. First up is Paradox magazine which I think is a strong fit for "Such Great Faith" since it is largely an historical story. They also pay 3-5 cents per word which is starting to reach professional levels.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

SpongeBob Time

This weekend we went camping up near Bellingham, WA, at a place called Silver Lake and did the normal camping things. One interesting bit of family lore that has developed in our household is the use of SpongeBob Time. The kids have a tendency to constantly ask how long until we get somewhere. When we answer them, they still don't have a good concept of how long two and a half hours are. So we've gotten into the habit of converting time estimates into the number of SpongeBob episode equivalents it will take. That's something they can relate to a little easier.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I Am War

This did not surprise me at all.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Your Result: War

When the second seal is opened, you will ride forth on a red horse carrying a sword, unleashing war and destruction. Your mission is to take peace from the earth, so that man will kill one another. The color of your horse represents the blood spilled on the battlefield.

Death
Famine
Pestilence
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Monday, July 09, 2007

More Rejection

This weekend I received a rejection note from Image Journal regarding my story "Such Great Faith." I suspected they were not exactly right for it. A little while back I got an email from the editors at Relief saying they were still considering it so I continue to wait. In the mean time, I have started writing more on "The Battle of Raven Kill" so I can get another story into the submission cycle.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sixteen and Six

So far I've managed to send out 16 queries to agents regarding 1000 Things About Me. Six have rejected it already, some getting back to me within hours. The process is not what I expected. When I seriously started working towards publication a few years ago I did my research on how to do it. Back then the primary method was mailing proposals and query letters through the mail. Very few agents accepted email queries. Oh what a difference a few years makes. Now the are very few agents who don't accept email and most of them prefer it. This makes things easier. Now it only takes a few minutes of cutting and pasting to send the email off. Also, they can respond much quicker and don't have a load of paper piling up on their desks. Ain't technology grand?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Writing Lessons From Failed Writing

Here's a bit of a lesson that I posted elsewhere so I'll plagiarize myself and repeat it here. It describes the failure of my novel attempt a few years ago when the thing fell apart after about 100K words.

The novel I nearly finished while in New Orleans was doomed from the start by serious structural flaws in the plot. A plot must be thought out and must survive a series of questions that mostly start with 'why.' Why must that be that way? Why do the characters do that? Why would the villain do that and not just shoot them? Why is anybody bothering to do anything at all?

I had an implausible premise from the beginning and didn't realize it until too late. The further I got along the more difficult it became. I couldn't think of any solid reason that could recover it. Also, I had the hero separate from the rest of the pack and head back to get revenge on the villain. Soon after that I lost the structure I needed and couldn't recover.

Stories are presented in three acts with the hero going through four phases: orphan, wanderer, warrior, and martyr. He or she goes from reactive to proactive at the midpoint of the story. The timing and spacing of these phases need to be hit at the right times because that's what readers expect after years of training with other books as well as movies. You miss these marks at your peril and I missed them terribly. Combine that with the implausible plot and the thing fell apart, becoming nothing more than a series of scenes with no arc and no compelling reason to root for the hero.

That, by the way, is a textbook way to kill your novel.

And learn something all at the same time.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fourth Stop on the Fantasy Fiction Tour

The Fantasy Fiction Tour is about to kick off and the next author to discuss is Sharon Hinck. I've got some previous posts regarding her book The Restorer so let's talk about the sequel, The Restorer's Son.

This looks like an interesting follow up based on the promo copy:

While studying the Book of Judges, housewife and mom Susan longs to be a prophet like Deborah. And she gets her wish when she stumbles into an alternate universe! But now Susan's successor---the next restorer---is rebelling against his destiny. Can Kieran be persuaded to make the sacrifices necessary to save his people?

Sounds like a good prodigal son story and it should be well received.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Third Stop on the Fantasy Fiction Tour

Today let's do Bryan Davis. His series is called Dragons in Our Midst. Here is some of the copy from his website regarding the first book, Raising Dragons.

Raising Dragons is a contemporary fantasy novel that inspires young people to dig deep within to find their God-given strengths and use them to overcome any obstacle. It is both a hair-raising, modern-day adventure and a glimpse into another world—a world of knights, dragons, and fair maidens.

These kids find out that they are born of former dragons and have a heritage that may prove difficult. Great stuff!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Let Me Count the Ways

Here is an example of my sick sense of humor and how it is rubbing off on my children. The other day at dinner Son Number Two is talking about something and uses the old saying that we've all heard before: There's more than one way to skin a cat. Son Number One says, "Yeah, like an industrial shredder." I of course corrected him because skinning a cat suggests that the rest of the body is left intact. Then we started coming up with methods and tools one could use to implement a cat skinning policy. That got me to thinking. Just how many ways are there to skin a cat?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Second Stop on the Fantasy Fiction Tour

Next we'll do Christopher Hopper's Rise of the Dibor. Here's part of the book's description from the author's website:

A World untouched by evil and ignorant of temptation is quietly awakened to a wicked influence in its kingdom that threatens to destroy all life. At first any signs of change are subtle, but slowly even Creation itself heralds the impending doom that awaits.

Visit Christopher's blog to find out more.

Monday, July 02, 2007

First Stop on the Fantasy Fiction Tour

I'll go through the books on the tour in no particular order. First up is The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson. This book looks really cool and I plan on buying the series for my son when we finally finish Eragon. (Which can't be soon enough, boy that book is awful.) This book is the first of a series and looks very impressive. It's about a boy from our world who is transported to a fantasy realm where adventure abounds. It's just the sort of stuff my 10 year old loves.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Fantasy Fiction Tour

I cooperation with the other bloggers of the CSFF, I'm promoting the Fantasy Fiction Tour with Wayne Thomas Batson, Sharon Hinck, Bryan Davis, and Christopher Hopper. Visit all these sites to see what's going on and whether or not the tour will be in your area. As always, more info to follow.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Latest Writing Project

I have begun the task of sending out proposals for my latest writing project. It is no longer the super secret project. The title is called 1000 Things About Me and it is a grand extension of the 100 Things list that I wrote here a while back. I was calling it the super secret project because I wasn't sure if I could pull it off. 1000 things are not so easy to come up with. Yeah, I could have rattled off a bunch of boring, useless stuff like counting the hairs on my head but where's the fun in that? I had to come up with a whole bunch of stuff that was completely true to some degree or another. I really bogged down around the 700-800 range. The trick was not to repeat myself (unless it was for comedic effect) and that required walking a line between too much detail and not enough.

Anyway, it is done and now I'm seeking out possibilities for publication. Many thanks to my test readers for their insights and corrections. (Yes, even something that's essentially autobiographical can use some outside proofreading.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Quick Update

I'm still waiting for my new laptop to show up. The old one still works as long as I plug it into a monitor, which means its function as a laptop is now extremely limited. I bought two monitors from Goodwill over the last couple of days only to find out they don't work. I only paid 1.50 for them so I'm not that riled up. Craigslist seems to have free monitors listed so I'm going that route.

I've written a proposal for my latest writing project and will be sending that out later in the week. The project is revised and ready to be submitted. Now I just have to go through the motions and see what happens.

Almost done with book 2 of The Dresden Files, it's better than book 1.

Watched Ocean's 11 last night. I love it. Son Number One couldn't stand it and left halfway through. His loss.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Son Number One Beats Father

So I'm sitting here minding my own business and Son Number One challenges me to a 2 player game of Super Mario Bros. This is the first video game he ever played and I'm the one who showed him how. About 8 or 9 years ago I hooked up our old NES to an upstairs TV and showed him how to move the guy around and jump. He could not get past the first pit; no matter what he did he kept jumping at the wrong time and falling in. I came home from work the next day and he'd been playing for hours. The rest is history.

So this time around I watched him play for about 20 minutes before he lost his first guy. I gave it my best shot and scored about 23,00 points with my 3 lives. As I write this, it's a hour later and he is a few feet behind me, still playing the same game, and on his way past 600,000 points.

I need to teach him how to respect his elders.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Son Number One Breaks Laptop

Yeah, the laptop that I just spent $200 on for data recovery from the last disaster. Great. Apparently the laptop was downstairs on the ottoman and 'someone' knocked it off. Now the screen is broken.

I was trying to get this stupid machine to last for the rest of the year but it just isn't going to happen. A new Dell factory refurbished laptop is on it's way. Yard work will be assigned to Son Number One until I run out of projects around here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Interview About Me

If you are so inclined you may click over to Allie's Musings and read her interview of me. It is part of her Writer's Wednesday program where she features interviews with various authors. I'm honored to be selected. Hope you all enjoy her blog.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More on The Restorer

Here is the promo copy from Sharon Hinck's website:

Susan, a modern-day soccer mom, is pulled
through a portal into another world, where a
nation grappling for its soul waits for a promised
Restorer to save their people. Can she fill that
role? While she struggles to adapt to a foreign
culture, she tackles an enemy that is poisoning
the minds of the people, uncovers a corrupt
ruling Council, and learns that God can use even
her floundering attempts at service in surprising
ways.

Monday, June 18, 2007

CSFF June Tour

This month's tour is for Sharon Hinck’s The Restorer. I will be posting more on this over the next couple of days.

The Thinking Blogger Award

Two Write Hands has awarded me The Thinking Blogger Award. I am pleasantly surprised and surprisedly pleased to be added to the ranks of smart bloggerdom. This does present me with a bit of a conundrum. In the spirit of the tradition I am to identify five blogs that make me think and award them as well. But you see, I rarely give compliments and when I do, I mean it. Therefore I will withhold in abeyance the awarding of my five allocations, to be handed out at some future point in time.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Latest Project Finished

So my latest piece clocked in at 15,000 words and I'm going through the revising process. Since this one is non-fiction humor I am drafting up a proposal to blast out there and see what sort of interest I can generate. This is new territory for me and there's a bit of a learning curve. It doesn't help that I got a 'hard to categorize' project. Typically with non-fiction you come up with the idea, do some basic research, and then draft a proposal to see if a publisher is interested. The writing comes later. But this is different in that I wanted to see if I could actually finish it before sending out proposals. My extra awesome test readers are preparing their savage remarks as I speak. After that and a little tweaking, the proposals get launched. Luckily for me there are plenty of agents and publishers who accept e-mail for that. Makes the process so much easier.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Storm Front Finished

I also finished Jim Butcher's Storm Front a couple days ago. It is probably less than 100K words and reads pretty quick. I suppose it was good enough to give two stars to but it's really not my cup of tea. The first strike against it is first person narration. It's an urban fantasy about an openly practicing wizard in Chicago. He's a private detective of sorts but is brought in to advise police on the weird cases. The first book is pretty straightforward; stop the menacing evil wizard who's killing people with magic. It was entertaining to see the way Butcher handles his magic system but I don't know if that can carry through the seven books he now has. The hero, Harry Dresden, is a likeable guy and finds plenty of challenges caused by his innate humanity even though he is one of the most powerful wizards around. I'm reading the second book in the series now, mostly because a friend gave them to me and said they get better. More reports to follow.

BTW, the super secret writing project is nearly finished and stands at 14,600 words.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Blood Knight Comes and Goes

I finished The Blood Knight the other day and I give it very high marks. There is a very sad death of a major character and that's always great for fiction. There is the revelation of a secret that has tremendous impact on the story. There's also a really cool fight at the end which is always a plus. (The Briar King wrestles the woorm.) And I finally got to find out who the Blood Knight is. I was kind of rooting for Neil MeqVren and I thought it was a lock when he led the charge against an impregnable fortress. I also thought it might be Aspar or even Stephen but the actual winner caught me by surprise. Anne steps up and becomes the queen, taking no crap from anyone. Cazio both grows and remains his irrepressible self. The book is a masterful work.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Super Secret Writing Project

Most of this week I have been working on a new writing project that is three quarters of the way finished. I've currently got about 11000 words put into it and I have to say that it's becoming more difficult than I thought. It's kind of consumed my every waking moment and no progress has been made on anything else, including Medieval: Total War.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Harder List

My wife quirked up her eyebrow at me when I got home from work yesterday. She asked me if I could do a list of 100 things about her. I smiled but then started thinking about it. I asked if it could just be 25.

Monday, June 04, 2007

100 Things About Me

I've seen this done on someone's blog whose work I admire very much. It's been nagging at the back of my mind for several days now so I had to do it as well. I also now officially tag every blogger in the known universe to do the same.

1. I learned to drive when I was ten.
2. I grew up on a farm.
3. I think pecan waffles should always be accompanied by a Dr. Pepper.
4. I think I am more clever than I actually am.
5. I think the four basic food groups are: Hot pastrami on sourdough, Cookies, Broiled Salmon, Coca-Cola.
6. As I’ve grown older I’ve become both more conservative and more tolerant. (Yes it can be done.)
7. I can’t seem to throw a football correctly.
8. I love books.
9. I mean I really love books, it’s almost an obsession.
10. If I had to choose between a beach and a library, 9 times out of 10 I’d choose the library.
11. When I get to Heaven God’s going to hand me a chocolate chip cookie.
12. I think it’s gonna taste really good.
13. I don’t shave every day.
14. I’d like to learn how to play the piano.
15. I’m not that fond of the sun.
16. I drive a truck.
17. I’ve worked with people that I did not like at all.
18. They never knew that.
19. My IQ is about 145 to 160 depending on the test.
20. My wife has consistently beaten me at Scrabble for over 15 years.
21. I have never lost a game of Trivial Pursuit to her.
22. When I talk to myself I’ll intentionally mispronounce words just so I can hear what they might sound like.
23. I’m in the Marine Corps Reserve.
24. I look good in pink.
25. One has nothing to do with the other.
26. I only applied to one college.
27. I don’t mind doing yard work.
28. I’ve been to Manhattan and Brooklyn and Queens but not the Bronx.
29. Joshua 24:15
30. I believe you and your house can do whatever you like.
31. I believe just because you can do something it doesn’t mean you should do it.
32. I’ve driven across the country twice.
33. I often wish that America’s pastime wasn’t internet gambling or daytime television but something a little more wholesome like, oh I don’t know, maybe baseball.
34. I speak a little Spanish.
35. It’s come in handy.
36. I believe that if you can work you should work.
37. I believe that applies to Bill Gates as well as the guy I see on the freeway off ramp.
38. I believe one of them is working, and it shows.
39. I believe one of them is not working, and it shows.
40. I’ve been writing stories since I was a child.
41. I sold my first story when I was 37.
42. I plan on maintaining that same rate of success and publishing my novel when I’m 189.
43. I know several police officers.
44. That’s never come in handy.
45. I’ve set foot in 8 countries besides the United States.
46. When I was a child my friend and I created our own talk and variety show on tape cassette.
47. At the time I thought it was the funniest thing in the world.
48. I watched a cow get slaughtered when I was twelve.
49. I didn't think there was anything funny about that.
50. I’m fascinated by the very real chance that life will be discovered on other worlds before I die.
51. I’m glad God made the universe big enough to allow for that.
52. I’m a fair cook.
53. I don’t believe human activity can destroy the planet.
54. I believe human activity can make some local areas very unlivable for a very long time.
55. I know too much about my kids’ favorite cartoons.
56. The last time I went hunting I didn’t bring a rifle or a hunting license but I did bring a considerable amount of beer.
57. I believe you can be a Christian and still drink alcohol.
58. I’m glad trees are a renewable resource because aluminum baseball bats are just freakin’ wrong.
59. I’m hoping to visit England before I die.
60. I think the Global War on Terror should be renamed Civilization’s War Against Evil.
61. I laugh at Spongebob Squarepants
62. Before we got rid of our cassette collection I owned every Billy Joel album ever made, even some ones you never heard of.
63. I’ve flown an airplane.
64. I’m at the age where I’ll often involuntarily groan when I move to get up out of a chair.
65. I’ve decided to voluntarily stop doing that.
66. I think our country would be better off if a few more people were a little more judgmental.
67. I’ve travelled to quite a few places and I always try to sample the local food.
68. That didn’t work out so good for me in Korea.
69. I’m a dyslexic typist, for example I type ‘heor’ instead of ‘hero’ every single time, even just now.
70. Out of six billion people on the planet, I’m 100% convinced that my wife is the one single person God picked out for me before I was born.
71. There are people in Nova Scotia and Wales that I’ve never met but still consider very good friends.
72. I spend too much time on the internet.
73. I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as my lord and savior and I think you should too.
74. For a while I thought of making that number one on the list but I knew that too many people would stop reading as soon as they saw that.
75. I think that says more about them than it does about me.
76. I like maps and if it were entirely up to me that’s all we’d have on our walls.
77. I do not fold my underwear before tossing it into the drawer.
78. If I had to choose between accepting a promotion at work and going to the World Series my boss would be very unhappy with my decision.
79. I’ve been on stage at a comedy club.
80. People laughed uproariously and even invited me to their table after the show.
81. I was not on the showbill for the evening.
82. I’ve never been back to that comedy club.
83. I once shot a pigeon right through the eye from 75 feet away while it was hidden by a bunch of oak leaves.
84. I’ve eaten pan fried breast of pigeon.
85. I do not lie but I firmly believe that it’s appropriate to present the truth in the most favorable possible manor.
86. I do not suffer fools well.
87. I’m getting better at hiding that fact.
88. People think I’m more organized than I actually am.
89. I never disabuse those people of that notion since they are often my employers.
90. I’ve done something that, if caught, would have landed me a night in jail.
91. I believe you can be a Christian and still drink alcohol.
92. I absolutely hate to repeat myself.
93. I’m an excellent marksman with 5 expert badges from the various Marine Corps rifle ranges I’ve shot.
94. That’s never come in handy.
95. My first car was a 1970 Chevy Malibu.
96. I never use that as a security question for online banking.
97. I hate BBQ ribs.
98. I used to be able to play the guitar and the harmonica.
99. I could probably still fake it on the harmonica if I could just find the bloody thing.
100. Three statements on this list are not entirely accurate.