Articles for the Month of March 2014

Anomaly Con 2014 Recap

If it’s not blatantly obvious by now, I love conventions. I love the people I meet, the social interaction I get, and all of the pretty, pretty costumes. (Not to mention the pretty, pretty people). Anomaly con was wonderful. I had the opportunity to connect and work with a number of local authors this weekend including Vivian Caethe, J.A. Campbell, Mark Stone, Paul Lell and Josh Vogt. In addition I had time to hang out with friends St. James and Leslie.

I was only able to attend three panels this weekend, one on Zombie Love (that went downhill fast, but was a lot of fun) Flash Fiction –something I’m not yet very good at as yet, and another on Being charming vs. Being creepy at cons. I think the audience agreed that the creepy at con panel should be held on Friday, not on Sunday afternoon. Here’s hoping that can be arranged for future cons.

PendragonCostumeOne of the things I enjoy most about working at conventions is the opportunity to dress in gorgeous costuming. Well, I haven’t updated my wardrobe in a number of years, so I splurged and finally got one of the Pendragon outfits that I have always lusted after. As a side note, being laced and unlaced into corsets and bodices by an attractive man on his knees for an hour is really a good boost to the day… granted I did tell him in advance that I was going to spend a lot of money at his booth, so I had his undivided attention.

As always, the con winds down, and now it’s Monday and I can barely keep my eyes open. I’ve got ideas for a half a dozen new projects, some of which I might actually get to and I’m looking forward to Starfest next month.

 

Eyestrain – it’s not a writer’s friend

I’ve been struggling to actually keep up with my writing for the past few weeks -turning out about 1000 words a day, if that. This morning, I finally figured out what the main problem actually was… it hurts to look at my computer screen.

Now, I HAVE a set of computer glasses, when I started my most recent 8-5 job I noticed that I was having some issues, so I took the time to go get a special prescription. But then again… it does’t help to have computer glasses if you don’t actually wear them. I’ve had a low level eye strain headache for the past three weeks. Yesterday I made a concerted effort to turn off all of my electronics and not look at computer screens for a while.

Today I spent two hours with my glasses off, listening to an audio book (Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey for those that are curious – love the book AND I love the reader they got for it) Finally about noon my eyes started to hurt less. I think it’s going to take another few days to fully recover though, even as I type this, I can feel the strain coming back.

Remember folks, don’t stare at your computer screens for too long.

I have talented friends… and linkage

It has come to my attention recently that I have a LOT of really cool and talented friends doing really cool and talented stuff. Below is a list, alphabetized and categorized as best I may. Some folks should probably be in at least two categories, but I picked the one I felt worked best. If I left someone off – I blame the insomnia from last night – ping me and I’ll be happy to add you.

Authors
Ben Hamby https://www.etsy.com/shop/skydogs
Bob Greenberger http://www.bobgreenberger.com/
David Boop http://www.davidboop.com/
Guy Anthony De Marco & Tonya L De Marco http://guyanthonydemarco.com/
Keith R.A. DeCandido http://www.sff.net/people/krad/
Kevin J Anderson & Rebecca Moesta http://www.kevinjanderson.com/
Paul Lell http://www.kalijor.com/
Peter J. Wacks http://peterjwacks.com/
Quincy J Allen http://www.quincyallen.com/
Sam Knight http://samknight.com/
Vivian Caethe http://www.viviancaethe.com/

Artists
Marrus http://www.marrusart.com/
Robert Quill http://www.robertquill.com/
Zoe Frasure

Bloggers
Colleen Luckett http://redheadinjapan.wordpress.com/
Karen Brady http://glutenfreecarbs.wordpress.com/

Musicians
Andrew McKee http://andrewmckee.com/
Emerald Rose http://www.emeraldrose.com/
Iris & Rose http://www.iris-n-rose.com/
Marc Black http://www.marcblack.com/web3/
Marc Gunn http://marcgunn.com/
Pandora Celtica http://www.pandoraceltica.com/
Stephanie Bettman & Luke Halpin http://www.stephaniebettman.com/
Voltaire http://www.voltaire.net/

Photography
Rachel Jardine Demartin http://racheldemartin.com/Honey Lindburg http://www.sweetashoneyphotos.com

Theater, Dance & Movies
Susan Rahmsdorff https://www.facebook.com/ScarletSeamstressCostumes
Terra Taylor Knudson http://www.aterrafirma.com/ & http://www.oliotheatreworks.org/
Whitney Rowlett Senn http://www.countstonine.com/

Random stuff
Dryad Tea http://dryadtea.com/
Antonio Centeno http://www.atailoredsuit.com/

Review: Bloodletting Part 1 – Peter J. Wacks and Mark Ryan

Bloodletting_Cover_FinalThis is the first book in a new Epic Fantasy series, the Affinities Cycle, by Peter J. Wacks and Mark Ryan. It can be purchased through storybundle.com this month alongside books by Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, Kevin J. Anderson and more. (It’s a steal at this price).

I had the opportunity to read Bloodletting Part 1 this weekend during a plane ride to and from Denver, not ideal circumstances I admit. Chapter 0, necessary for giving an overview of the world, was denser than I generally care for. The story starts at Chapter 1, in an idyllic fantasy novel setting – the small village.

Shortly thereafter the screams of small children accompanied me as I dove into the first battle scene in the book. They provided an appropriate soundtrack to feel like I had been transported as the kidnapping, death and destruction began.

After the initial shock of battle and the ensuing chase the book calms down, allowing us to get to know the main characters, Tetra and his sister Halli, as well as some of the new races that Mr. Wacks and Mr. Ryan introduce us to. We get a great look at Tetra’s motivations and determination, as well as the bond that sustains both he and his sister through their trials and tribulations. (And they are many and varied.)

This book feels like what it is – the first book in what will hopefully be a much longer series. Well written and engaging, in the vein of George R.R. Martin, but not as intimidatingly long, it’s worth picking up.

Review: A Whiskey Jack in a Murder of Crows – by Sam Knight

So, I took advantage of the Kobo deal that I posted about back on February 18th. I’ll admit it; I read a lot, so the offer of free books was too tempting. When I’m on a roll I finish three to four books a week. My usual genres are sci-fi, fantasy and historical fiction. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a western or a mystery, but I’m trying to branch out.  Sam Knight’s book rolled both into one and was a real treat.

Here is the blurb from the book:

Rainbow County California

Unrivaled sunsets, placid lakeside orchards, pleasant mountain vineyards, and a rural lifestyle.

The only thing that stopped this place from being idyllic was the noise from the cars on the highway. And murder.

Left for dead, helpless as he watched the murder of his family, Jack is a broken man.

Six months later, Jack is attempting to recover, both in body and in soul, at a vineyard he inherited from his uncle. California Wine Country seems like a good place to start over and escape the nightmares of his daughter’s dying cries.

Until the local barkeep tells Jack his uncle was murdered.

Whiskey Jack was a quick read, with excellent dialog that allowed you to get a real feel for the characters.

The scenes where Mr. Knight describes and replays the murder of Jack’s daughter and his wife were some of the most chilling in the book and had me shuddering in my seat. His reprisal of Jack’s daughter’s last words throughout the book made for an eerie look into a tortured soul.

The story itself touches on something that has been a hot topic for Westerners for as long as the US has existed; dealing with land rights and water rights (couched in mayhem and murder). Mr. Knight, through his handling of the mystery, proves that he has a good grasp of both, and illustrates well the lengths that people will go to for love of money.

With the graphic content and heavy topic matter I expected to find the book difficult. Instead I found it to be a quick and enjoyable read.

Sam Knight is a Colorado based author. You can visit him on the web at http://samknight.com/

You can purchase A Whiskey Jack in a Murder of Crows Here

On Writing

As part of my intention to enjoy certain aspects of being single I decided that trying out things that I’ve always wanted to do was a good idea. Along those lines, I decided this year to take an introductory class in creative writing.

When I was in college I had very little time, or money (no surprise there, what student does?). As such, I didn’t end up taking very many electives, and everything I did take was related to one of my two degrees. There are several classes that I would have liked to experience but never got around to. Among those are included a studio class on painting and one on drawing and a creative writing class or two.

This spring I finally carved out the time and money to take an intro creative writing class in the hopes that I would find inspiration and learn some of the basics that I felt were lacking when I started writing a novel late last year. I am six or seven weeks into the class and sorely regretting my decision to take it.

Positive aspects of the class –

  • I like the book we’re using, (Imaginative Writing, The Elements of Craft by Janet Burroway)
  • I like that I didn’t have to pay all that much for the class.
  • I am having to devote at least some time to writing things that I find challenging.

Negative aspects of the class –

  • The teacher enjoys the word ‘like’ more than any functioning adult should. (Like, you know, she was like blond and like skinny, and like, I’m totally serious man.)
  • I am in a class of 18 – 20 year olds, most of whom would rather not be there.
  • For a writing class, we really don’t write all that much. Throughout the course of the entire semester, we have three papers due in total.

The first six weeks of the class was the creative fiction section – that’s the section I was looking forward to the most, and it was sorely disappointing. The next few weeks are creative non-fiction, which has potential (I’m supposed to be reading that chapter right now, but I’m procrastinating by writing about it) The last six weeks are poetry – which I am dreading. I can only hope that it ends up being better than I think it will. Oh, and did I mention that I’m pretty sure the teacher likes me about as much as I like her? I just hope the class itself doesn’t kill my desire to write entirely.

(Note: If you’re interested in writing, I really enjoyed Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)