Thursday, February 18, 2016

What Kind of Author Do You Want to Be?

I find that one of the problems I am faced with in writing is that my attention wanders. I am interested in so many things that it is really hard sometimes to narrow my focus and actually get one thing done well. I'll be working on a project and think "oh- you know what would make this better? If it was a steampunk!" Then a few days later inspiration hits again, and now I have to include elements of a secret society and a diabolical plot to rival that of The Da Vinci Code. And later still I found a way for my steampunk society to coexist with dinosaurs....

Ok, so I am not going to completely apologize for the conglomeration of things that I think are cool, because, well, I think they are pretty cool. However, it illustrates a point. Sooner or later you have to decide which ideas belong to this project, and which ideas need to go to the file where you keep ideas on the burner for another work. 

Similarly, you come to a point where you have to decide what you are going to write. Not because you can't write from every genre, but because by narrowing your focus you get more done, and the stuff that you get done is usually going to be better in quality. 

So what kind of author do you want to be? Visualize it. What does it look like? What does a day of work look like? Be specific. The more specific you are, the more details you include, the more likely you will be to build that vision. That is the secret to success. 

Once you have that vision, develop a laser focus. Commit to living as though the vision were already a reality. Wherever possible, keep to the routines and do the work that you envisioned yourself doing. If you maintain that focus long enough, you will change, and you will become the person that you want to become. 

And hey, you just might write a few steampunk political thrillers with dinosaurs in them along the way. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Last Ship

It seems there is no lack of post-apocalyptic dystopian disaster television shows and movies and books to choose from today, what with The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent, The Walking Dead, Contagion, etc.... The list goes on. Dystopian disaster stories are very popular right now, and it's no wonder when you look at what the aforementioned titles have done for the genre as a whole.

That being said, I'm always reluctant to branch out and explore new programs, books, or movies that deal with a subject that is deemed "popular" by society. I've been hurt by you before, publishing industry. The booksellers, commercials, and trailers said it would be, but it wasn't. I still shudder thinking about horrible reading or viewing experiences that seemed to have gone through no more of an editing process than, "Hey, this looks just like that, let's throw it out their and tell everyone it's just as good. They won't know the difference.

We know. Believe me, we know.

So, it was with some trepidation that I decided to give The Lost Ship a try. And, almost surprisingly, I wasn't disappointed.

Oh sure, it's a little rough around the edges, there're some plot holes that don't make sense, the budget may be lacking in areas, and heaven knows that the rules behind the plague are baffling. I mean, it's airborne, but walking outside makes it ok to take off your mask?

Those minor points aside, it's really pretty enjoyable. I feel like I did when I started getting into Battlestar Galactica.There's a very fun and exciting sense of impending doom that keeps moving the plot forward. In the case of Battlestar Galactica it felt as though I were living through the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor. That sense of dogged determination met with defeat at every turn, upset plans, assuming you could get them going at all, all tied up by the wonderful sense of camaraderie that we are in this together. In The Last Ship, I find this sort of cathartic experience to be akin to a lost world story, but instead of finding a hidden world, there's a Planet of the Apes staring at the Statue of Liberty in the sand moment that brings it home that the world itself has changed, and what you thought you knew, you didn't.

I've really enjoyed the first few episodes on hulu and look forward to many more. If you're on the fence about watching this show, don't be. Just watch it. It's cheesy in places, but it's also fun in places, and it does it's job of carrying you along for a ride in the world it's created. What more could you ask for from a story?

As to writing, I feel like my plans to continue have been met with obstacle after obstacle. Not that it's all bad, quite the contrary, most of the obstacles have been placed there by my awesome job and I wouldn't trade the experience. But I have been doing some pensive, inward style thinking of late and decided that it's time to start moving on getting my work published and on producing new content and works. To that end, I am beginning a new project that I am very excited about. I am in the outlining portion of the work now, planning on finishing that by the end of April. After that I will go full boar into completing it as soon as possible. I may post some things here, so watch for those, but I will be in need of Alpha and Beta readers. If you are interested please let me know in the comments section. As to the genre, I can tell you it will be epic fantasy/steampunk, and that's all I'm going to say for now. More to come, check back later.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


For those of you who don't know, I recently relocated to Arizona for work. This is a big move for me, and perhaps an even bigger move for my little family. Through it all though, I have to say that I am excited to be here. To that end, I thought I'd liven things up with a top ten reasons to live in Arizona that I've discovered since moving in February. So buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

  1. No Daylight Savings Time. Do I really need to say more?
  2. London Bridge, yes, the real London Bridge, is in Lake Havasu, AZ. 
  3. Hunting Camels is prohibited. Camel lovers, rejoice. At last, a safe haven for America's roaming camel herds.
  4. It is illegal to manufacture imitation cocaine. The real stuff though, that must be ok.
  5. There is a corner in Winslow, AZ, where if you drive by you will see these guys:
  6. Arizona is known as one of the driest states with the warmest temperatures, despite having the water from seven states pour through the Grand Canyon.
  7. The world's largest flowering rosebush resides guessed it...Tombstone, AZ. At last, we know what that business at the O K Corral was all about. 
  8. A misdemeanor committed while wearing a red mask qualifies as a felony. Iron Man, Daredevil, and Flash, beware.
  9. If you melted down the dome on the State Capitol Building, you could make 4,800,000 pennies with the copper. Also true, if you did so, it would cost you more than 4,800,000 pennies.
  10. And finally, it is illegal for donkey's to sleep in bathtubs. Just don't. You don't want to know. 
Arizona really is a great place to live and we're very happy here. I know that summer is just around the corner, and I've been told by every Arizonan that I will hate it, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. More updates to come. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Secret to Parenting

I was making my monthly rounds around the Facebook scene today and something got to me. This is something that I find amusing, and usually I just let it go, but for some reason the stars are in alignment and I feel like going on a tangent tonight. So here goes.

I see all the time on Facebook the comments of people talking about other people and their kids. They are full of advice, correction and judgement. Additionally, those of us who are parents likely all know someone who is always willing to tell us what they will do when they have kids. They have a plan of action that will yield results that you could duplicate in any lab. And, those of us who are parents, smile knowingly and if we really like them, we hand them another shovel.

Here's the point I'm getting at. Those who don't have children of their own have no idea how to best care for someone else's kids. Those who have children of their likewise have no idea how best to care for someone else's kids. This is because even those who have their own children do not really have any idea how to best care for their own children.

Parenting is a  learning process. Their is no instruction manual. There is no magic plan that will yield the same result, time and time again. The reason for this is simple. We are all different. Our society embraces it. The hipster group that so often is willing to voice their opinion on how other people should raise their kids holds this fact up like a banner. And so why is it that we can't seem to understand that children are all different as well. There are unique challenges that must be overcome, and that is what parenting is. It is the ability to adapt to all of the unique situations that each of their children may present to them, and to prepare them for life and for success, using love as a guiding force.

So the next time that you see a parent dealing with a child throwing a tantrum, or hear a child screaming or throwing a fit in a store, stop and think before offering to solve all of their parenting problems.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Change of Pace

2013 brought with it a number of changes in my life, almost all of them good. At the beginning of 2013 I was running a truck for Zerorez, a revolutionary carpet cleaning company. I was making good money, but it was hard work. I was working 5 days a week and 12-14 hrs per day. On top of that, I was finishing up my degree in accounting, working ever-faithfully towards the goal of getting my bachelors. 

In March things changed. I was given the opportunity to put my new degree and education to use by handling the accounting, human resources, and safety(OSHA regs) for the Salt Lake base. It was a great learning opportunity. There was a lot, particularly in the matters of human resources, that I did not know going into the position but was able to acquire through on the job training. Overall it was a great opportunity. 

In November I was then given the opportunity to stretch again, and since that time I have been the Production Manager at the Salt Lake base. For those of you who don't know what it is that a production manager does, think of it like the person responsible for the tactical implementation of the strategic directive from the General Manager. 

It has been a wild ride, and one that has sapped my time. I love my new position, and find myself thinking of ways to improve things all the time. 

And that might be a problem. 

I've felt unbalanced through the months of December and particularly January. I couldn't put my finger on it initially, but I think I may have stumbled across the problem. I've been lacking a balance in my work and personal life. 

My wife, who has always had to put up with me working long hours and has always supported me is used to me being submerged in work. But as I have thought about this more and more, I think that it's true. I need to refocus and achieve balance in my life. 

Great. I nailed it. That was easy. Oh, wait. I just assessed and end result that I needed to achieve. I don't really have any concrete action plans to bring that to pass. Well, crap. 

I think that will be my focus this month. I recently finished reading 11 Rings by Phil Jackson. It's a wonderful book about leadership, but also one that is fresh with insights for living and helping others to live a more balanced, productive, and effective life. There are a couple of other books that I am reading and I will have a week trip to Pheonix to try to clear my head and re-center myself. 

One thing that I have noticed is that as I keep up with this position, and dive into the prospect of getting my Master's Degree in Accounting, and struggle to find enough time to play with my kids and treat my wife to a regular date night, and get ready for the newest addition to our family... you get the idea. I'm busy. It's a good busy. But one thing that has completely fallen by the wayside is my writing and drawing. I'm a little sad about that. I still love to do it, but there is just not time in my day. 

So that may have to sit on the back burner for the next few years. I'm not thrilled at that prospect, but I think that I have made my peace with it. I still intend to keep up with it from time to time, as I will continue to post on this blog, but I think for now my focus has to be elsewhere, and that's ok. 

Perhaps I've rambled a little long and gone in and out of some subjects in a confusing fashion, but I think I'll tie it all back together and end with a line from one of my favorite books, Blood Rites by Jim Butcher:

"Life is  a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar." 

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dexter- The End

Those of you who know me know that I am a huge fan of the Showtime TV Series, Dexter. Initially I was a tough sell. None of the advertisements caught my attention and I didn't know what it was about. Finally my wife told me it was supposed to be about a serial killer who only killed other serial killers. I was intrigued by the idea and took a chance and purchased the first season. By the end of the first season I was sold.

It didn't happen all at once. Dexter's sister, Deborah Morgan, was probably the one that had me contemplating throwing the DVD's out the most through that first season. She was such a neurotic mess and the fact that she had to drop an F-bomb every other word grated on me.

The funny thing is that as the show went on, I began to realize that the neuroticism and sailor's language was actually endearing for her character. I felt real empathy for a character that was that messed up, I couldn't help but cheer for her. By the end of the series she was by far my favorite character.

Season after season I have felt like the writing has pushed boundaries, surprised me, and left me wanting more. I have been absolutely amazed at the quality of storytelling that the writers at showtime have come up with. Until this last season.

I don't want to beat up on the season too badly. By all accounts, it was a good season. But I think that was my issue. It was good, not great. It didn't surprise me. It was a good ending, and, looking back  on it I wasn't surprised because it ended in about the only way it could have at that point, I think. So did it deliver on it's promise? Yes. I know there were some that were hoping for a happy ending, but really, it's a show about a serial killer. What did you expect? Again, I think it ended in the only way that it could have. I just wish that there was something that could have been done to give this last season more punch. I felt like it went out with a whimper, which is not fair for a show of this caliber.

Fellow Dexter aficionados, what are some favorite moments from the show? I'd love to hear from you.