Monday, September 28, 2015

Vermont has been great for a number of reasons. The scenery is awesome. The vibe is lovely. All in all it has been a wonderful stay.

In addition to that, I have had a number of poems rolling through my head trying to take form, done some editing and writing, have a new novel idea, read a lot of stuff, met David Orr, so many, many things that have been making the creative juices flow again. Granted I was worried if this would ever come back but clearly I needed to heal first. Sigh…

Other things, when we arrived here the trees all seemed to have the same color green, pretty much across the board. Now that the leaves are turning color, it is like each tree is trying to be as unique as possible. It is like Van Gogh sneezed on his palette and the colors went everywhere. I have never seen such vast color variance in leaves. My wife noted that in the spring things are like this as well and that summer is that time where the trees try to be grownups and conform only to get to fall and say screw it. I think that’s a brilliant way of looking at it.

So back to reading and such. Ta

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I also finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, yesterday. I really enjoyed it. Gaiman is excellent at creating a sense of mystery out of the simplest if things. Since the majority of the story was told as if by a seven year old, that even upped the potential scare. At 7, the world has so many mysteries that it is difficult to grasp. Gaiman uses that as well as his own particular bent towards mythos to have the Maiden, Mother, and Crone try to help the boy out.

The characters are interesting, and described in an interesting and very seven year old manner. You get more based on the emotional connection to the character. Lettie’s mother just comes across as a little different than the usual mom, but not much. Even his parents are more archetypes than people, which I do understand. He has a Father and a Mother and they are Adults. Those are huge distinctions at that age.

It was an entertaining book with some very intense emotional moments. If you like his style of writing it would be a very good read.

The other book I finished was one on Da Vinci. This book gave a brief historical overview and then dealt with his notebooks and anatomical drawings. The author was upfront with his focus on the anatomical work of Da Vinci, but he ended up making it sound like Da Vinci focused more on that than anything else. That was odd and not supported by other accounts.

I did like to learn the history and dispensation of the notebooks after his death. That was very neat, to hear about how discoveries of the notebooks occurred. The fact that several times chests have been opened and surprise Da Vinci! makes me chuckle. Not a bad overview but with some problems.

I read a lot yesterday.

Monday, September 14, 2015

I just finished rereading The 97th Step by Steve Perry. It is the follow up to the Matador trilogy and is quite excellent. One of the things Perry excels at is action scenes. When I was focusing on improving my action sequences I reread a lot of his books. He keeps things trimmed down, sparse, focusing on the movement and flow of events rather than get overly introspective during combat. In the few times I have been in combat that is what it feels like, these short staccato moments even when things are flowing. I was having trouble translating what I knew into something that could be written down.

All his books in that series are excellent for that. He establishes character quickly and moves right into things, no fuss no muss. And he doesn’t give you too much information, using a lot of odd words, different languages, etc… to set to mood. The atmosphere is good but honestly, it his action sequences that get me.

His interpersonal stuff is also good. When characters fall in love it is easy to see the why of it all, which is nice. That way you can believe the actions that happen thanks to those emotions. All in all it is wonderful stuff and certainly helped me learn a great deal about writing. I have followed his blog as well, which has been interesting. He has many and varied interests and not all of them show in the books. That’s not bad. Getting to know him as a person has also helped me figure out stuff about being a writer. So I go back to that well often, to reacquaint myself with those characters, that way of writing and such. Good fun.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Writing Blog
It seems as if the block to my writing has broken or at least there is a large crack in it. I have been able to write more, some of it even good, which is a nice thing. I have story ideas popping up, which is also a nice sign. Maybe this means I can get some more work done and hopefully get out Transitioning Home and finish the tweaks to Amulet of Adventure. That would be nice.

In four days it will have been six months post-surgery. I guess that does make sense that my writing is coming back. That was a big deal. Anytime you have such a big surgery your world is going to change, whether you want it to or not. My world has changed. I do see somethings differently, and there have been some changes to my interests. Nothing totally huge, like I now want to be a Mennonite Rock Star or something, but there has been a perceptual shift that is interesting.

What does this mean for my writing? Well, I certainly will be able to keep doing it, which was something I was worried about. For most of my life writing has been a huge component of who I was and am. The loss of writing would have been a serious blow to the psyche. Considering I use it as an outlet for some of my thoughts and feelings, that could have turned me into a bomb of sorts. But thankfully, things did not go that route. You have no idea how happy that makes me. I love writing and storytelling and to have lost that would have been to lose me.

So, the writing will continue and hopefully I will be able to get more serious works out. Besides Transitioning Home I also want to get out Splintered Life. It was the story that got me into more prose work and to see it come out for a much wider audience would be lovely. Sure the money would be a nice treat but in the end, I far more care about the fact that people get to read and enjoy things.

With that in mind, enough woolgathering, time I got back to work. Ciao,

Friday, September 11, 2015

I just finished The Hum and The Shiver by Alex Bledsoe. It was an excellent book. Alex certainly has a grasp of the East Tennessee life, and small town fun and games. The characters are really good, and with the exception of one moment with the Army, I could buy all of it. I liked the plot, as it had a nice slow growth, being mostly character driven and about rediscovering their roots. The atmosphere that he created was great, with excellent description of the landscape and surrounding nature without bogging down the text.

The Tufa, as a group of characters to write about, seem like a fun subject. They have a lot of interesting characteristics and their subculture is fascinating. The heavily music driven nature of their culture comes across easily with the sheer number of songs and musical references thrown into the text. Watching them use their music in different ways was really interesting.

I highly recommend the book, as it is a fun read. We even pimped it out to a waitress here in Vermont whose name was Buffy, “like the vampire slayer” in her own words. I absolutely look forward to diving into the rest of the Tufa novels and am glad that Alex is working on his fifth. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

It’s the day before my 47 birthday. My daughter Katie is 23 and married. If she had been mine biologically I would have been 23 years old at the time myself. I was a mess at 23. Between dysphoria, trying to be “manly” and failing, going to the University of Kansas, being engaged to Alison, and struggling to keep from being a basket case it was a miracle I made it through. 23 is a rough age.

My writing at that time was primarily poetry. Some of it was good but mostly it was overly intellectual epic poems. I did learn a great deal from doing that but honestly, someone should have taken the Walt Whitman away from me and maybe introduced me to the Beat poets, or other more modern writers. I dabbled a bit with prose writing, but my main source of writing was poetry.
That’s not to say that it was a bad thing. To this day I still love poetry. I read Neruda, Oliver, Snyder, and many others because there is a certain magic about poetry that isn’t in prose. Prose is amazing and can weave these beautiful tapestries of word and imagery that can share with you someone’s life and experiences. What does it matter that it is fiction if it is well written and draws you in? Poetry however is a different animal. Where prose can be a tapestry, poetry is a snapshot, in all it’s glorious clarity and depth. You get to drink deep of a moment, a feeling, a wish. Where prose might be a meal, poetry is a drink. Sometimes a shot, sometimes a refreshing glass.

Now I am far more into prose. I have easily written over 4 million words since 2004, a good bit of it fanfiction and transgender fiction posted online. Looking back over the things I have written it is clear that I have grown in skill, able to weave words more effectively, able to tell a deeper more fulfilling story than before. That makes sense, as I have gotten a good amount of feedback from my writing and have worked on honing my craft, pulling lessons from writers I am impressed with.
For example, I have drawn from Steve Perry how to write an action scene. His Matador series has some of the best action sequences in fiction. They move organically and catch you up in the action in a visceral manner. I have learned how to craft atmosphere from Stephen King. Despite my not liking anything he has written save The Dark Tower books, even I have to admit that King can shape atmosphere more brilliantly than most any other author. There are moments in The Stand that are terrifying, though nothing happens, all because the descriptions touch something visceral inside. Many authors helped me learn the fine art of character creation, though none more than Heinlein. He said that people don’t read books just for atmosphere or such, but for characters. If you create good characters people will want to read the story, regardless of the setting. After all, it is people to whom the elements of plot happen. From Michael Crichton I learned how to plot in such a way that a maze of madness envelops the characters but it is all logical and step by step when seen from a distance.
That is not a full list, obviously. There are more authors I could mention, especially in the Sci-fi Fantasy realm such as Lackey, Tolkien, Lewis, Asimov, Brooks, etc… No the process of learning the craft of writing is a never ending one, where you hone yourself against writers you admire, whose craft skill you wish to emulate. There are always great stories out there that you can drink deeply of and see if anything sticks.

So yes, I am 47, have one published novel to my name, far more than that online and I am hoping to have a future in this career. Will I succeed? Honestly, at this point it is readers who will determine that. Because it doesn’t matter how good you are, how profound your writing is, how deeply it touches upon the human condition if readers don’t connect to it. So, here’s hoping.

P.S. My wife said to celebrate the first six months of my novel 300 Rains being out and available on Amazon. Here is the link: