Among the OASIS and Shardblades

So this has been an eventful week for me.

Work things have occurred. Things that are forcing me to move forward with plans, no matter if I like it or not. One day, I will speak of these things openly. But not today. As of today, it’s still time to just say that things outside of my control have begun…and now I must stay ahead of them.

In addition, I took the time today at lunch to use the program “Aeon Timeline” to plot out the existing timeline of “Steam and Magic.” Why is this important? Because it’s been driving me crazy on the length of time it will take for the Rose to reach one point from another. And now that I have that planned and plotted, I finally got to look and realize where I needed plot points to happen and how they could fit together. I finally have a few things to write. I’ve been stuck in this forever.

At the moment, I’m still waiting for my very busy friend to get a free moment to finish the critiques on “Beyond the Waterfall.” I promised not to publish until she was done. And since she’s so busy with her own work, it might be a bit until that sees the light of day. Just be patient. It’s coming, I promise.

I had a lovely day with Tali yesterday. Just a wonderful day. In fact, we spent a vast majority of the day listening to “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. And that’s the main topic for today’s blog. I want to write down my thoughts on “Ready Player One” and Brandon Sanderson’s “Way of Kings.”

Oh yes, I’ll try and avoid any spoilers.

The Stormlight Archive: Book 1: The Way of Kings

I’ll start with the official synopsis, taken from Sanderson’s website.

Widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, Brandon Sanderson now begins a grand cycle of his own, one every bit as ambitious and immersive.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by overpowering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under the eminent scholar and notorious heretic Jasnah Kholin, Dalinar’s niece. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of more than ten years of planning, writing, and worldbuilding, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

I should mention that I listened to this through Audible.com, which is my go to source for all Audiobooks. It was narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer. Let’s start with them. I’ve listened to these two before, since they were the two who did the “Wheel of Time” series…and they drove me batty. But I started to realize my problem was so much with the narrative, but the books as well. I had been used to the narrator for the Discworld series, Stephen Briggs and Nigel Planer (Planer is just freaking AMAZING). These two readers were powerful, entertaining and just slightly crazy. However, Reading and Kramer are much more subtle. They’re a bit monotone. They don’t really get passionate in their readings. Don’t get me wrong, they’re total professionals, but it can come across as dull.

However, it’s more about the book, right? Way of Kings takes a long time to get moving. And it’s huge at 45 hours for the Audiobook version. It’s very slow going at the beginning and it’s frankly not until the end where the three main character threads intertwine. However, the sheer richness of this world is almost overwhelming. I can’t handle it all. Even after reading the entire first book, I get the feeling that I’ve only seen a corner of the world, a tiny sliver of an enormous boulder. Sanderson has world-built this place better than anything I’ve ever seen. It’s astounding.

And the characters? Amazing. Simply amazing. You really get in connection with these characters. What drives them, what they hate, what they love and what they dream. I don’t think I’ve read any of his stories where characters have been so richly defined.

The magic system is also very interesting, but instead of revealing most of it like he does in his other books, Sanderson takes his time. You get the feeling he’s only touched the surface as to what the magic system can do…and what’s really powering it. In the end, you’re left with more questions than answers.

The finale is simply EPIC. Sanderson is well known for his spectacular fight scenes and this one does not disappoint. We have a full scale WAR going on here at the end of the story. But the true shockers are the brief one-perspectrive chapters at the end. The final revelation at the end of the book? That twist will probably pop your head right off. I’m still reeling from it days afterward.

In the end, this is Sanderson writ large. While it takes a good long while to get going, it’s worth the wait. It doesn’t grab you quite as powerfully as the others, but by the time you reach the end, you’ll find yourself unable to stop. It’s a great ride. And I’m looking forward to the next book which I just might read next. You definitely need to check it out. 

 

Ready Player One

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.

A quest for the ultimate prize.

Are you ready?

Okay, I’ve had friends recommend this to me before, but I was in the middle of Way of Kings at the time and got away from audiobooks for a while. Once I finished Way of Kings, this was the next book on my list. And I think I finished the audiobook version, all 15 hours of it, in three days. In fact, I was listening to it with Tali most of the time. Every commute that I could (save for those with Caitlyn, because she could repeat some of those words…and the main characters tend to enjoy their colorful language), too.

Let me first get one thing out of the way: there are plenty of infodumps in this book. Especially when you’re listening to the Audible version of it. Sometimes they can be so long that you forget the events the characters were going through. However, I was willing to forgive it because the backstory on the world, the OASIS and the characters was so damn interesting. I kept losing myself within these miniature stories-within-a-story. It was somewhat jarring to come back out of them, but the flow was good enough that it pulled you right back into the main story. (So imagine if Lost had actually told a story well…, but I digress).

While I’m not the greatest fan of Wil Wheaton’s narration (I don’t feel he does that great with different voices or accents), this story was just amazing. I love all the nostalgia. While I’m about five years too young to enjoy all of the references, I do remember the Colossal Cave Adventure. I played Joust on the Atari (when most kids were playing with Nintendo…my parents didn’t exactly help my gaming career save for some PC games). I remember the tales of Dungeons and Dragons, though sadly I’ve never actually played a game (something I still regret to this day).

This book is a celebration of some of the most iconic pop culture that still defines our era.

But the best part to me was the relationships and the revelations. More than anything I wanted to see the answer to the “will they/won’t they.” I love seeing these people who are unabashed shut ins and social pariahs building real relationships that move past the borders of fantasy and into reality. They become real people even as they fight for a virtual reality. And I think that’s the greatest accomplishment of this book.

The OASIS currently has a present-day counterpart. Second Life. You could also argue that it also lives on in Everquest, SW:ToR, WoW and all the other MMORPGs. I know how addicting being someone else can be. I was insanely addicted to Second Life…so much so that it almost wrecked my real life in ways that are a bit too personal to discuss on a public blog. Needless to say, I made a vow to myself and my wife that I would never enter Linden Lab’s game ever again. The temptation is just too strong.

And that might be the reason this book resonates with me so very much. I’ve been in the main character’s shoes. I’ve created new personas online and metaphorically passed through the screen, becoming this other person. It happened before I was married and sadly, a few times afterwards too.

And I think that’s why I loved this book so much. Because of the ending. Because we all have villains in our lives we would love to fight using giant mechs, plasma rifles and elven swords. They might not be the world-crushing baddie, but we all have bullies and jerks around us that we wish we could challenge to single combat. And in the end, we all want to be heroes of our own lives. This book has that in spades.

Good characters, great references, fantastic action. This is a required read for anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s…and doesn’t mind playing the occasional game. 😉 A must buy.

 

Well, this is already at 2138 words. Way longer than my last few posts put together. But I was super-passionate about these two books, especially “Ready Player One.” I admit I’m sad that I don’t get to listen to Wil’s voice anymore for the story. I’m sorta hoping we might get a sequel someday. Maybe, maybe not. No matter, it’s still a damn fine book. Both are.

I don’t have a PMV for you today. I regret to inform you that my favorite MLP fan-animation studio “Jan Animations” got hit with a Cease and Desist order a few days ago due to trademark issues. It’s a long story and there’s someone who’s already talked about it far more effectively than I can. I’m hoping Jan and Hasbro can work out some sort of deal…but I’m also glad I saved all of his amazing videos to my computer.

So tonight, I will just wish you good luck and have fun.

-rks

Advertisements

2013 – Looking Back, Looking Forward – 2014

Happy New Year to all of you!

I know there are a great many people out there who take New Year’s as a chance to go out, get drunk and party…thereby preventing themselves from having any memory of the night’s events. As you may have guessed by now, I’m not that kind of person.

Instead, I’d like to take a look back…and take a look forward. I’m sure you had no idea that’s what I was going to do this time, right? No, stop looking at the title. There’s nothing there. I said stop.

*Sigh*

Let’s move on, shall we?

What I’ve Written

A Glimmer of Perspective

Since this blog is supposedly about me as a writer, that should come first, right? Well, let’s start with the biggest accomplishment: I’m finally published.

A Glimmer of Perspective” was released on Amazon Kindle on September 6, 2013. For the first 90 days or so, I sold it at $0.99 and it did fairly well. A total of five reviews, with four five-stars and one four-star. A short time later, I published it on Nook, KOBO and iBooks using the Draft2Digital platform.

I’m not saying that it was a huge success. It wasn’t really. In fact, I’m still not sure how to promote it.

In September, I sold 11 copies of the book on Amazon.
In October, I sold 2 copies.
In November, I sold 1 copy.
In December, I told 2 copies.

In all that time, I only sold a single copy through the Nook, KOBO and iBook Channels.

In truth, I have a lot to learn about the process, especially about promoting my books. But at least I can say that I’m out there. This was a huge first step for me and I don’t think I should let myself feel marginalized just because I wasn’t an immediate smash hit.

In the Sun Eagle’s Wake

This project was supposed to originally be a short story that ballooned into a small novella I managed to finish the day before National Novel Writing Month Started. Perfect timing too. Set in a previously-unseen area of Taylin (The Scribe/Dreamscape universe), it was the story of a boy with the obsession of wanting to fly like his beloved sun eagle…but never being able to find the right kind of book to help him Change into a bird. When the chance to get access to a book that might just give him that power coincides with his first date at an impromptu festival, which will he choose?

I started it on October 11, 2013 and ended on October 30, 2013 at 12:01PM. The story clocked at 28,491 words.

I’m not quite sure what to do with this story, to be honest. Maybe one day it’ll go in an Omnibus. But it’s another story with more of the rules started.

Solstice by Starlight

I talked a little bit about this story two weeks ago. I was hoping to have it done by today, but I got rather sick in the last few days and time just managed to get away from me. *Sigh* And in truth, I really am not sure what I’m doing there. It’s supposed to be about how Pauline becomes Ak’s apprentice. However, I’m having trouble with the conflict. There are two primary conflicts…but both of them get answered in “Soul of the Scribe.” I can’t answer them early, since this is supposed to happen 4 years before the events in “Scribe.” So in the end, I decided to move back to my NaNoWriMo story…

What Lies Beyond Magic and Steam

Another great writing accomplishment for this year: winning National Novel Writing Month, even with having a second baby on October 31, 2013. I’m still not quite sure how I did it, but I did it. And this one finally gets my hero cast out of Rosan City to see the various fantastical locations all across Taylin. At the moment, our heroes are under attack by strange flying contraptions, pinned down by technology they’ve never even seen before. And that was after getting blown out of the sky (literally) as an elevator shaft was destroyed around them. They’re having a rough day, to say the least.

Anyway, while I won’t be able to get to this tonight, I’m looking forward to getting to it tomorrow. I haven’t been writing in it the last few days because I’ve been as sick as a darn dog.

In the Corridors of Light and Dreams

The second of the Taylin stories, this mammoth beast was originally my National Novel Writing Month story for 2012. In the end, it became nearly 175,000 words. I’m not quite sure what to do with it, but right now, I’m still nailing down the general universe. But I think I might be reading too much Brandon Sanderson. My novels are too darn long most of the time. Anyway, I was happy to finally finish this on March 14, 2013. It needs an immense amount of work before I’ll let anyone even see it, but there’ potential there. I should also mention that I did my NaNoWriMo with this, but I actually started this story on July 12, 2012.

Beyond the Waterfall

Beyond the Waterfall was my original entry to the OC Writer’s Anthology (which is eventually coming out, I promise!). However, the story I wanted to tell refused to fit into the guidelines provided. In fact, it was my story that stretched them quite a bit. In the end, I decided to finish this story as it was and write an entirely different story in the space of a couple weeks. I always felt this was a stronger story, but at 9,000 words, it definitely wouldn’t fit under the 4,000 word limit. I also enjoyed pouring my own burgeoning issues with my interest in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic into the main character.

Waterfall Steps

My second attempt at the OC Writer’s Anthology, it still ended up around 5,000 words, but managed to pass. This one happens six months before the events in Beyond the Waterfall, both of which are loosely tied with the Taylin world. I haven’t decided if they’re “canon” or not, but that’s a decision I can make some other time. But it’s another accomplishment, especially since I did both stories while working at another Apple Store.

A Secret Project

I also did one other short story this year that you don’t know about. And I have no intention of sharing. So ha! But it’s another one I can add to my list of accomplishments.

Stormhaven Revision

This is what I worked on during summer, hoping to create a full novel out of this. I got about 1/3 of the way into the revision before my time was demanded elsewhere.

The rest of July-August was spent working on “Glimmer” and another story I can’t quite remember trying to figure out which one to publish first.  I worked endlessly on Glimmer to make it perfect.

Other Writing-Related Projects

Taylin Map: I had did a map of the entire Taylin world, including places that shouldn’t be spoken about for years in book time.

OC Writers: After getting some time away from work, I managed to start being able to attend the OC Writers Group every Thursday. This was a huge encouragement to me. The whole no-work thing also saved me in regards to National Novel Writing Month, giving me the time I needed to work on it.

-rks Blog: I got serious about the -rks blog, as you can see, doing posts almost every week for a good portion of this year.

What’s Coming

OC Inklings: I’ve decided to take the initiative and launch the OC Inklings, which will be the OC Writers official online critique group. It’s launching January 2, 2014. And so far we have about 10 members. Which is probably all we can handle at the moment. I’ll admit I don’t have any idea what I’m really doing. I’ve ran an in-person writing group before, but never an online group. It should be interesting

Finish “Magic and Steam”: Obviously, this will be my main writing project for the time being. I’m also hoping that by finishing this, I’ll get the answers I need for “Solstice by Starlight.”

Publish “Beyond the Waterfall”: This little guy is begging to be published, which is why I’m offering it up to the critique group as a guinea pig.

Submit “Glimmer” to PodCastle: PodCastle is a great fantasy podcast that I used to listen to all the time. I don’t have the time anymore, but that was a huge influence on me several years ago. In fact, some of the ideas of Scribe came from “In the House of the Seven Librarians,” my favorite short story of all time, which I found on PodCastle. I’m hoping they might be interested in Glimmer. 🙂

There are plenty of other projects running around in the back of my mind, but right now, I want to focus on what’s achievable and doable. That’s important. Very important. And all four of those can be done before February, I think (except for maybe Magic and Steam…I’m not sure how long this one is going to be).

Life’s Events

There’s more to life than just writing. And this year, life has been interesting to say the least.

We found out we were pregnant and were expecting on November 5, 2013! Of course, little Talissa didn’t wait that long and she arrived on October 31, 2013. Whoo! Caitlyn also turned 3 just a few weeks ago. Now that was an interesting event…a bit crazy, but fun nonetheless.

However, tragedy hit when Laura’s grandmother passed away and we were forced to fly all the way to Michigan during…April? That was an adventure and a half. But in the end, Laura got to show me a large part of her family and Caitlyn’s grandfather on Laura’s side finally got to meet Caitlyn, which honestly…didn’t look like it was ever going to happen. And it went fairly well.

Not only did I get my long-desired Genius promotion at my Apple Store shortly before the end of 2012, but I finally came into my own there too. I created a “Get To Know You” Project at work so everyone could actually learn about the other people on the team, which turned into a rousing success.

And of course, during the middle of April, I decided to take Caitlyn home and watch the first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And all of you know what that led to. A radical change in my perspective and a whole new kind of obsession.

Finally, we had the big one. The panic attacks that forced me to take time off of work and in combination with my Baby Bonding leave, I was gone from work from the middle of September and will continue to be gone until near the end of January.

I’ve read a lot of books, played a lot of games, written a lot of words.

You know, it’s common for me to look back at my life and think that I’m wasting it. But in truth, I would burn out if I really tried to write every minute of the day. If I didn’t take breaks for gaming and stuff…I would self-destruct. It would eventually kill me. It’s hard to remember sometimes. But when I write something like this…I realize that I have done a whole lot this year. Finally published, multiple stories on the way, networking with other authors, beaten games, introduced Laura to new authors and stories (Name of the Wind, anyone?) and so much more.

It’s been a crazy year.

I don’t expect my life to get any less crazy.

But God willing, maybe it’ll get a bit more focused.

And maybe you’ll be able to pick up one of my books off of a bookstore bookshelf this time next year.

After looking at all I did this year…it doesn’t seem like such a long-shot after all.

Now…what do put for New Year’s Eve PMV?

The first thing that came to mind is something powerful…something energetic…something ascendant.

So how about Ascension?

But then I realized there’s another one that’s even more beautiful…and it works so well with my writing, that I can’t help but put it in. Because there’s still one wish that hasn’t come true. Ironically, it’s the whole point of that show I’m so obsessed with.

I’m still lonely. And I still really need some true friends. And God, if I can have a real wish, I’d like some more friends this year. Real ones.

 

It’s been one hell of a year guys. And I hope you stick around for 2014. It’s going to get interesting. That I can promise you.

Until next time, good luck and have fun.

-rks

(PS Just not too much fun tonight 😉 )

 

 

Affirmations, Internal and External

Some of you probably know about the “Five Love Languages.” I read it a few years back and I really liked it. Not because it gave me any new information, but more because it helped me put things I’ve always felt into words. Now I could go on about this at length, but I what I want to talk about is one specific kind, which is the most important kind to me. It’s “Words of Affirmation.”

I don’t think I need to explain what that actually means, so we’ll skip that part. But what I will say is that lately, those words of affirmation about my writing has been coming up in my head. Part of that is because I’ve been having a rough time at work. To add difficulties, Caitlyn has not been nice to Laura and I lately and it’s taking it’s toll on us.

So these words of criticism have been building up in me and I’m desperately trying to fight them back. And a recent commenter happened to drop another one on me at just the right moment. And some of my other thoughts…

I won Honorable Mention in thousands of entries for the Blizzard writing contest. I’ve committed my life to raising an awesome child. I protect my wife even when all logic says back off. I’ve been told from COMMUNITY COLLEGE that I should be a pro writer. Even when the rest of the world is going to hell around me, I stick to what I believe. I got Genius after fighting for FIVE YEARS.

And you know what? You can never take my imagination from me. I can do things in my mind and with the written word that makes every paltry sales goal look like a dim shadow forgotten in a new dawn.

((That last part is actually an excerpt from my personal journal))

Why am I stating this? It’s not to be prideful. Because for every success, there’s a thousand failures in the shadows. But that’s where I want them to stay: in the shadows. I’ve found myself focusing too much on all the pain and misery and not enough on the positive aspects of life.

I have an odd sort of memory, a memory that is sporadic at best. It’s why I keep a journal so religiously. Because if I don’t, I know I’ll forget the stuff that matters. I often regret not starting it earlier. I could have used it to process the stuff that happens in my life. My journal actually started August 3 years ago when I got a very bad review for the original “At the End of All Things.” I did it to process my emotions, since I was so devastated by it.

I wonder if it’ll come easier in time, getting critical reviews of my works. Huh.

Anyway, to try and bring this long rambling stream of consciousness to a head…

Why am I going through all of this? To fight back.

Owl City’s “Shooting Star” says it pretty well:

Way up in the air, you’re finally free
And you can stay up there right next to me
All this gravity will try to pull you down
But not this time

So my challenge to myself? Not to let gravity pull me down. The only problem with that is it’s a second-by-second battle. And it’s very easy to lose ground. So very easy. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to pull it off, so I think I might ask for some divine help.

Writing News

Now that you’ve glimpsed my brain, let’s talk about writing shall we?

Laura finished her readthrough of “Soul of the Scribe” and I’m about halfway through. It’s still a powerful story for me and I think it’s the best story I’ve ever written. I can’t wait to do something with it. Originally, I was going to work on some WoW short stories/flash fiction as a little side project, but I haven’t had the focus or motivation for that right now. But I’m going to change things up and stop doing my journal on all my breaks of the day. 15 minutes isn’t long to write, but I learned in NaNoWriMo that those 15 minutes do add up over time.

That’s all I really have story-wise at the moment.

Oh yeah, and I have brought my Twitter Account to full “writer” feed now. I’ll only be posting writerly updates on it, so if you’re interested, follow me! It should be on the side of the page. 🙂

Now, I think I’ll leave you with something positive to enjoy.

(For the record, I felt this song had a lot more potential as a music video than this, but I’m no music producer)

Good luck and have fun!

-rks

Calling All Beta Readers!

Soul of the Scribe

It’s official. Soul of the Scribe Version Beta 5 is done! I am satisfied I’ve fixed all major plot holes and created a far better flow to the story. All the various foreshadowing is in there, along with the proper descriptions and consistency. It’s now finally time to have other eyes on the pages than mine!

I have several beta readers I know personally already, so I’m doing a very limited beta reader run for those interested. It’ll only be a handful, but if you’re interested, add a comment and we’ll try to make things happen!

I’m really excited about this opportunity to share something I think it at least close to publishable quality.

The only catch is, people aren’t allowed to be offended if I decide to not take their advice. 😉

Moments of Transition, Moments of Revelation

I had another interview with a different store. Somehow I got a second one though I was sure I completely made an idiot out of myself for the first one. However, I felt really good about this interview. I hit it off well with the manager and we had a very comfortable conversation. I’m praying hard. Really hard. I think this is what needs to happen. And this feels different somehow…

“All of life can be broken down into moments of transition or moments of revelation. This had the feeling of both.” – G’kar, Z’ha’dum, Babylon 5

This captures my thoughts on the subject quite well. It’s been resonating clearly.

Warcraft Victories

I’ll admit I’m stoked. I got the Twilight Drake from OS25 3D a week ago after a huge guild meeting. The guild leader actually passed the drake to me when she had won. I’ve been running this for months when possible and while I love my guildies, I was frustrated when I kept losing the drake. And I’m not the kind of person to reserve or ninja. Ever. I also hit Exalted with the Guild on Lyssinna, getting me up to 40 Exalted Reputations and earning me the Dark Phoenix, Golden King and Dark Phoenix Hatchling. Symira is also up to 85 and is now quickly gearing up to be a full heroic healer. And Tyrimon is now successfully tanking Dragon Soul LFRs. 🙂

What’s on the Horizon

-We’re very excited to get a new iMac today! It won’t be my primary machine, but it will allow us to do some really cool things in the house.

-I’m moving forward with Perelandra College for my BA in Writing. I don’t know if Apple will fully cover the cost…or even any of the cost, but I’m going to try. My father has been kind enough to offer to co-sign the bank loan I need since I can’t use normal federal loans for this school.

-Finally, the next writing project will be the finale posts for the Endeavour, a Star Trek PBeM (Play-by-email) Sim I’ve been participating in for probably ten years off and on now. I’ve been terrible in doing this. And it’s time to get to work on it.

-I have a new idea for a story in the Scribe universe. I have a good setting, and the beginning of some characters, but I’m still looking for the conflict. Once that comes to me, it’ll be ready to go.

 

So tonight, I’ll be slaving away and cursing up a storm as I try to rewire half my house, set up a brand new computer, transfer data, connect the old Mac Mini to the TV and configure everything properly. I’ll whine and complain, but it’s one of those kind of complaining that I love. 😀

Until then, have fun!

-rks

 

OCCWF Conference 2012

I’ve been pushing myself really hard the last couple weeks and have found myself with no time for much of anything. Yesterday was more about venting and trying to process the issues I have at work, but today I want to focus on a few other things.

The Orange County Christian Writer’s Fellowship Conference went great. Really great.

Bill Myers

Bill Myers was our keynote speaker this year. At first, I didn’t know who he was, until I read his credits. And then I realized I did know who he was! He created “McGee and Me,” a Christian TV show that I used to watch as a child (http://www.mcgeeandme.com/). I was utterly thrilled to have him there. I have fond memories of the show.

But beyond that, he was utterly hysterical. His first address made it very plain he considered himself to be “a coward, a crybaby and a moron.” But he always said yes to God. So he had some amazing things happen in his life. Some amazing chances of success. The man went from wanting to be a dentist to being led into a career in film and writing. It’s an amazing story.

He challenged me quite a bit and everything he said hit me on a personal level. In his second keynote, he talked about the process of dreams God often puts us through. A great example of this is Joseph, who shot off it mouth about a dream where his entire family would bow to him, and got thrown in a well, sold into slavery then put in prison. He was given the chance for a shortcut (sleep with Pharaoh’s wife) and when he didn’t take it…he went right back into prison. Finally, at the end of it all, he was given something greater than his dreams could ever encompass: he became the savior of his people.

Dreams aren’t realized the next day, or the next month, or even the next year. Sometimes it takes a very long time of sitting in the dark, wondering if you’ll ever see the light again. But when that light comes, it will be far greater and far brighter than you ever imagined.

He also told a story about an author friend he knew who did a single page a day, 5 days a week for 5 years. He did it after coming home from a ski factory. And when he started trying to publish it, he got 13 rejection letters until some nut finally accepted his work. His name was Frank Perretti. 🙂

Consults:

I got to have consults (meetings) with Julie Brickman, a professor with Spalding University, Merrie Destefano, a science fiction/fantasy author, and Mike Duran, another science fiction and fantasy author. I got to spend lunch on the second day with Pamela Jaye Smith, a mythologist, writer and consultant.

I learned an enormous amount from these individuals. Julie Brickman looked at the manuscript for Soul of the Scribe and was impressed with a lot of the imagery, but a bit bored with the reflections and the wanderings. This is perfect, because I’ve tightened up the story quite a bit. In fact, I’m in the middle of my “slaughter edit” where I just tear apart the story and turn it into what it should be.

Merrie Destefano gave me some great references. Suggested Tor and SF&F Magazine for places to try and shop Scribe when it’s done. I also want to look into a SciFi/Fantasy story called Wool, which launched a man’s career through ebooks.Other suggestions include looking at “Publisher’s Marketplace.” And finally, as someone who loves to break gender boundaries and stereotypes, she commented there may be more stories like that out there than I know.

Mike Duran gave me some good suggestions as to Christian publishing opportunities, like WhereTheMapEnds.com and Marcher Lord Press.

Finally, Pamela Jaye Smith was wonderful to speak to at lunch. We talked about the plot idea for Scribe. I loved the look on her face when I threw out the tag line. Her eyes went big and she nodded, saying she’s interested. I pitched the idea to several people today and all of them were very interested. I’ve had comments that people have never quite heard a story like this before.

Other Parts

I became the official photographer for the event, since I was a volunteer and happened to bring my camera along with me. I had to do a lot of editing to get the pictures to come out. The Radisson Hotel had really bad lighting, at least for camera shots.

I also made a ton of great new contacts. I’m happy to have met these wonderful people, especially since I had the wonderful opportunity to run a critique group at the very end of the night. Some fantastic stories that utterly had me swept away.

And that was a good summary of the two days. I was a zombie by the end, my brain fried into nothingness. But it was a great time.

The best part is, I think it’s moving me in the right direction. It’s time to get stuff moving.

Because I intend to be shopping stories by autumn. 🙂

Have fun!

-rks

The Mistborn Trilogy Complete

So I’ve been listening to Writing Excuses for some time now. It’s completely changed the way I write and I utterly love the podcast. I can happily accredit a good portion of my Honorable Mention for “Ashes over Stormwind” to their advice.

The head guy, a fantasy author by the name of Brandon Sanderson, had written several fantasy books, though is best known for taking over the Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan passed away. But I wanted to read his stuff since I had already done Howard Taylor’s Schlok Mercenary series and I don’t care for horror so I wasn’t going to read Dan Wells’s works.

So I picked up Mistborn at a independent bookstore in San Clemente called Mathom Books. And it just devoured me. My bedtime went from 10:15 to 11:30 every night. It was an amazing series. I tore through Mistborn and the first chance I got, picked up Well of Ascension and the third book.

And I just finished the third book, Hero of Ages, last night. I would love to give my full impressions, but I want to save that until later when I have a bit more time. I have never had a book end quite like this. I utterly adored his ending, it was something magical and wonderful.

And if I told you why it was so amazing, it would destroy the entire series for you, so I’m not going to do that. I will say one thing. You simply must pick up this series if you enjoy fantasy, action adventure, or just darn good books.

Great stuff!

-rks