Tuesday, December 3, 2013

NaNo Results (IWSG)

I’m doubling up on my IWSG post because it’s related to my NaNo results from last month. Needless to say, November turned out to be even busier than I planned, but I kept writing all the same. So, here are the results…

The good news is I managed to write at least a thousand words a day as per usual. The not so great news, this only put me halfway toward my goal of 50,000 words for the month. So, I’m not exactly thrilled, but not exactly disappointed either. Just kind of in the middle.

So, how did your NaNo WriMo go? Reach any points of brilliance last month or just happy to get through it? Are you ready to keep trucking now that we’re entering the Christmas season or do you plan to take a writing break?  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fun in Sonoma

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I spent the weekend up in Sonoma in the beautiful Wine Country. A fascinating town full of history, art, and good food, Sonoma has a little something for everyone. Jack London built his house there, some of the best grapes in the world are grown nearby, and the California Bear Flag was first raised in the Sonoma town square during the Bear Flag Revolt.

Needless to say, my wife and I had a great time. We we’re only gone one night, and it was our first evening away from the baby, but fortunately all turned out well. Between the bookshops, a great pub, and some awesome restaurants we didn’t need to think twice about wanting to come back.

So how have your last few weeks been? Gearing up for Thanksgiving? How are you enjoying the fall season?    

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Passing of Doris Lessing

Yesterday, the writer Doris Lessing passed away after a long career as one of the foremost authors of her generation. Feted for being a feminist writer and recipient of the Nobel Prize, she was never comfortable with either label, and constantly refused to be put into specific categories in either her writing or in her personal life.

Lessing’s The Grass is Singing and The Golden Notebook are a couple of my favorite works written by this truly unique author. Her experiences in Africa during the height of imperialism, and her disillusion during WWII in Europe shaped the writing in all her books, which drew heavily from her personal life. I certainly didn’t always agree with everything Lessing said in her books, but many of her ideas definitely struck a chord in me as I’m sure they did in many others. In interviews, she also spoke out against creative writing classes (which she said would have dissuaded her from becoming an author if she ever took them), and she also didn’t pay much heed to book awards even when she received the Nobel Prize.

What are some of your favorite works by Lessing? Or which ones do you plan on reading now? Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reading 4 Books A Week

For the past few months, I’ve set a personal goal of reading 4 books per week. Needless to say, it’s simultaneously been a perpetual struggle and a constant joy. So, why am I doing this to myself?

A while back I set myself a lifetime goal of reading 10,000 books in my lifetime (a feat that many great authors, statesmen, and philosophers have done over the ages). I realized that in order to reach that goal before death (and assuming I lived for many decades to come) I would have to average three to four books a week for the rest of my life. Sounds straightforward, but trying to balance in work, marriage, a new baby, mortgage payments, and just life in general tends to make finding time for reading a real challenge. Not to mention finding time for writing. Despite it all, I’ve found it an invigorating experience and my reading pursuits continue to keep me on my toes.

So what favorite books have you read lately? About how many reads do you manage per week? How do you make time to read in addition to setting aside time to write?   

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Why, oh, why did I decide to try and do NaNo WriMo this year? Yup, I’m only five days in and already behind on my daily allotment of words. Not that I’m not still trying, but man, oh, man is November a busy month!

But I always like to show the bright side during my monthly Insecure Writer’s Post, and the bright side is…hey, at least I’m writing. I’m also reading a lot, and even though I’ve not quite focused my powers (so to speak) I am feeling inspired after reading works by Paulo Coelho and Deepak Chopra, just to name a few. I feel like I have new ideas brewing under the surface within my subconscious, but they need to steep a bit more before they’re ready to come to life on the page.  

So, how’s your NaNo month going? Making any progress on your work? What’s inspired you lately? 

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNo WriMo & All I Want for Christmas Bloghop

As per J.A. Bennet’s blog, I’m promoting the All I Want for Christmas bloghop and stating my own NaNo WriMo goals for this month. Needless to say, I’m already questioning my overly ambitious writing goals, but I am enjoying the season and the challenges it brings. Between short-stories and a sequel to my latest manuscript, I’ll be attempting to write 50,000 words this month. Yikes!

November really isn’t the best month for me to be writing, especially since my family has lots of November birthdays, Thanksgiving is coming up, the Holiday shopping season starts, and I’ll probably be putting up Christmas lights/trees before the month is out. Not exactly all conducive to writing. But the flip side is that I love this time of year and I love writing, so what’s one more challenge in an already challenging schedule?

So what are your NaNo goals for this month? Any cool projects in the works? Make sure to check out All I Want for Christmas on Amazon! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Samhain

It’s Halloween! Or All Hallows Eve. Or Samhain (pronounced something like “soween”) as the ancient Celts called it.

This is my favorite time of year, and Halloween in particular has always been my favorite holiday since I was a kid. My great-grandmother was born on Halloween in Ireland, and used to tell us how her mother would put out a special tablecloth on Halloween night along with other traditions specifically reserved for this time of the season. Samhain marks the Celtic New Year, but I heartily approve of the additions of jack-o-lanterns and candy that have been added to the holiday over the centuries as well. This year marks my son’s first Halloween, and we’ll be dressing him as a pumpkin when we take him trick-or-treating tonight.

So what do you plan to do with your Halloween this year? What special traditions do you observe on this night? What kind of costume will you wear?  

Happy Halloween!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Editing My Book

Good editing is what transforms an intriguing idea in a first draft into a great story in subsequent revisions. Great editing will improve a novel even further. Today, I’d like to give some praise and good karma kudos to my latest editor, Angella Graff!

In addition to great feedback from my awesome CPs, I’ve recently had my manuscript of Fort Defiance edited by the talented Angella Graff, and it was certainly a worthwhile experience. I learn something new every time my work is edited, and I’d say the top two lessons learned for me this time around were: 1. Placing commas in forgotten instances, and, 2. Teasing out elements of the narrative that best belonged in dialog. All in all, Angella helped make my book a whole lot better, and for that I’m very grateful.

To learn more about Angella’s wonderful editing services, or to read some of her own books, checkout her blog and FB accounts for more info. So what stage has your latest draft reached? How do you handle the intricate web of edits and rewrites? 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Price Points on eBooks

Do you ever judge a book by its cover? How about by its price?

Between podcasts, conferences, and online articles I’ve been hearing more and more division amongst readers regarding the appropriate price tag of ebooks. Some readers believe price is loosely associated with quality, while others adhere to a strictly cheaper-is-better outlook. NPR had a great broadcast about readers who only buy ebooks listed under 99 cents, whereas other readers refused to buy books under 99 cents altogether. At one conference I attended, an ebook publisher suggested that $1.99-2.99 is the sweet spot. And of course, the bestselling price tag continues to be the one that is listed as FREE.

So what do you think is an appropriate price tag for ebooks? Do you prefer stories listed under a certain price point or above? Do you make exceptions for certain types of ebooks that don’t fit into your customary price range?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Farewell to Candlestick

This Sunday my wife and I went to a 49ers game at Candlestick Park! The Niners won and are doing great, but this is the last year that the famous old ballpark will be used. After over a half century of memories the park will be demolished at the end of this football season.

The park has gotten pretty old and in some ways is a shadow of its former self, but we still had a great time at the game. I have many fond memories growing up when I used to watch the SF Giants baseball games there before they moved to their new ballpark at China Basin. The Niners will have their brand new stadium ready for them in Santa Clara by next year. In the meantime, we’ll always have the memories of a stadium that gave us half a dozen Super Bowl teams and a few World Series contenders as well.  

What are some old landmarks where you live? Places where you have memories that are unique to your home locale? What familiar sights of your childhood have since passed into history? 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

eReader Habits

Do you still prefer a hardcover or paperback book versus an eReader? Perhaps you enjoy the smell of bookstores and libraries? Or maybe you love the lightweight freedom of a tablet that contains an entire library at your digital fingertips?

I have an unflinching fondness for hardcover/paperback books, but my wife and I both use our eReaders frequently now as well. I’ve struck a balance by always selecting older books from the library, whereas I tend to purchase new releases exclusively on my eReader. I’ve found in particular, that the majority of books I buy for my eReader are novels written by you…my fellow bloggers and online friends.

What are your eReader habits? Are you more likely to buy an eBook if it’s written by someone you’ve befriended online? How do you decide whether to get a book either from a library, a bookstore, or via an eReader medium? 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Shout Out to My CPs!

I just wanted to take the time out today to thank some great fellow writers who have been kind enough to review my latest works. I’ve had some awesome CPs (critique partners) over the past few weeks reading short-stories of mine while others have read my entire novel manuscript. I can’t express how valuable their feedback and suggestions have been during the revision process.

I especially want to thank Rachna, Milo, J.A., Laurel, Emily, Alex, Jim, and Lynda! A bunch of you gave me some great feedback on my short-stories while others of you read anywhere from one chapter to all of my current work-in-progress, Fort Defiance.  Your honesty and insight has helped make my stories better and I can’t thank you enough for that!

So where do you go to get great critique feedback on your writing? Interested in swapping stories? (I always like to reciprocate and read anything for any author who’s reviewing my work). Who are your favorite CPs?  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Insecure Writers’ Post

So I’ve been really lax about doing my Insecure Writers’ Group posts lately. But honestly, it’s for a semi-good reason. I really haven’t felt that insecure about my writing for quite a while now.

Sure, we all have our up and down days, but I’m writing and happy to be writing for writing’s sake. Becoming a dad over the last year has been a pretty big change in my life and it’s centered me on what’s important. Most of the things I was once insecure about I simply realized was just ego. I write because it makes me happy and I have a good story to tell. It’s that simple. I guess that’s the point of this post for my fellow bloggers. Keep it simple and keep yourself happyJ

So what about writing makes you feel “secure” and happy? Go back to those moments that first made you want to be a writer…what were they? And, if you still feel insecure, send me whatever you're writing and I’d be happy to read it…there’s nothing like having a dedicated reader to make a writer feel all warm and confident inside. Remember, this is supposed to be fun! 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Trip to Portland

I just got back from a quick trip to Portland. We had a lot of firsts this trip: first time going to Portland, first time my nine-month-old son flew on the airplane, and the first time I got to visit the famous Powell’s bookstore!

Thankfully, my little boy did great on the plane and also handled the rainy weather quite well. Definitely a born traveler. We hit up many sights in town, namely the Chinese Gardens, the Voodoo Donuts shop (even though I don’t eat donuts), and the gigantic Powell’s bookstore. Powell’s definitely had a huge volume of material and I came away with a few more books to add to my ever-growing reading list.

So what books are you reading currently? Which are your favorite bookstores to visit? Do you have some favorites you like to read this time of year?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Conan the Valorous

Looks pretty cheesy right? I picked up this Conan book at the library almost as a joke, but figured…what the heck. I might as well give it a try.

I was more than a little surprised at how well written and thought out the plot of this novel was. Wow. This read about a “barbarian” tromping through a world of chaotic magicians, sorcerers, and gods also had some really down to earth moments. It actually made me question some of my preconceptions about honor, doing the right thing, and what it means to be an individual in a world that doesn’t always make sense. Conan was actually a pretty three-dimensional character in this book and not the flat “Arnold” you might have seen onscreen.

I did this post as part of the Armchair Squid’s monthly book “meet up.” What were some of the best books you encountered this month? What’s on your “must-read” list?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

USA Wins America’s Cup!

Team Oracle just won the America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay! After being down seven races behind Team New Zealand, the American Team made the biggest come back in the entire 162 years of the history of the sailing race. Whew!

My family and I went out last week to watch the races in person and almost witnessed one of the race-boats capsize at high speed. Thankfully everyone was alright, but it was easily one of the most incredible sailing races I’ve ever seen. Now that the San Francisco Golden Gate Yacht Club has won the Cup again for Team USA the next America’s Cup races will once again take place here in San Francisco in 2016. To the winner go the spoils.

Team New Zealand sailed a great race though, and very nearly beat the American Team in what was easily the closest America’s Cup race in the last half century. So mark your calendars, and I look forward to seeing you all out here for the next America’s Cup come 2016!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What’s Your Harry Potter Personality?

Ever wonder which Harry Potter character you are the most like? This awesome Harry Potter version of the Myers-Brigg’s test has been popping up on Facebook so I just had to try it out. As you probably already know, I’m fascinated by the Myers-Briggs personality test and have blogged about it before.

Turns out my personality corresponds most accurately with Ron Weasley. Who also turns out to be my favorite Harry Potter character (double awesome!). I even had red hair as a kid (like my son has now) and it’s both eerie and comforting to think how much my own childhood school years had a very Ron-like slant to them.

So which Harry Potter character corresponds the most to your personality type? Are you surprised by what you discovered or more intrigued or disturbed?  Makes you wonder, does art imitate life or life imitate art? 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Garden Harvest

Working the garden every year gives me renewed respect for farmers. It’s hard, dirty, sweaty work, but at the same time oh so fulfilling when you see your plants mature and thrive. Not everything lives of course, but the crops that do come in make it that much more worthwhile.

I’ve pulled over 20 pumpkins out of the yard this year, a couple bag’s worth of string beans, and the tomatoes are coming in really well right now (and tasty too). Of course gofers took way more of my lettuce that I would have wished this year and the crows find my corn just as tasty as I do apparently. But my grapevines and sunflowers did extra well to make up for it, so I consider it a pretty decent harvest.

So how do you reconnect with nature this time of year? It’s Indian Summer and turning into Fall for us (which is our best time of year), but what’s the weather like where you are? How are you enjoying the harvest season?   

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Next Big Thing!

Fellow Blogger/author David List mentioned me on his blogpost about “The Next Big Thing” questionnaire where a writer updates everyone on their latest writings and happenings. So here’s my blurb on the Next Big Thing. Thanks David!

1.       What’s the working title of your book?
Fort Defiance

2.       Where did you get the idea for your book?
Oddly enough it’s probably the first story I ever wanted to write, but I didn’t find the right words for it until now. I’ve always been interested in stories about family and how settlers survived on the colonial frontier.

3.       What’s the genre of your book?
Historical Thriller, with a leaning toward YA.

4.       What actors would you pick to portray your novel in film?
I really have no preferences, I’d be happy if people simply enjoyed the story as a book.  

5.       Provide a one sentence blurb of your book.
      Sixteen-year-old Joss Roebuck must defend his family and farm from the land-hungry Magistrate Pendleton and the nearing French and Indian war-parties that threaten to destroy his home on the Virginia frontier.

6.       Will you self-publish or have your book represented by an agency?
Time will tell, but either way I intend to make the book the best it can possibly be, via rewrites, feedback from CPs, and professional editors.

7.       How long did it take to write the first draft of your book?
It went fairly well. I wrote over 85,000 words in about 12 weeks.

8.       What other books in your genre would you compare it to?
It’s a twist between The Last of the Mohicans and Huckleberry Finn. More contemporary comparisons would be Thom’s Follow the River and Speare’s Sign of the Beaver.

9.       Who or what inspired you to write your book?
My wife. Definitely my wife. Without her I couldn’t have progressed a single day.

10.   What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?
I genuinely wrote this book to be a fun and engaging read. I want readers to really enjoy themselves, and even though it’s a historical piece I think YA readers will like the story and pacing.  

Keep the Next Big Thing going…I nominate a few fellow writers/bloggers for this questionnaire, mainly because they’re super awesome and I’d be interested to see what they say to some of these questions.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Gearing Up For America’s Cup

This weekend my dad, cousin, and I went sailing on San Francisco Bay just as the America’s Cup races started heating up. We had a blast out on the bay, and even though we certainly don’t sail as fast as the pros, we still got a good feel for the course as we cruised in neighboring waters. We’re looking forward to watching the cup races live and in person as the nice Indian Summer weather starts up.  

The youth races are already underway with New Zealand currently leading over the U.S., Swiss, and other teams. The races for the professional finals will begin this weekend and last throughout the month. Like the youth sailing bout, the professional finals look like they will be a close race between the two leading contenders, the American and New Zealand teams. But don’t count the Swedes or the Italians out just yet.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Baby’s First Ballgame

We took my son to his first ballgame on Sunday! Eight months old and he loved it. He happily took in all the new sights, smells, and sounds, and for a while I think he was actually watching the game.

It didn’t hurt that the Giants won that day either. Seeing the world through my son’s eyes this weekend was fun, and everything from the train ride to seeing the sailboats circle the ballpark was all new and exciting to him. It’s something my wife and I would definitely do with our son again.

How was your weekend? What new experiences have you sought out recently or relived through another? How are the “dog days” of August treating you?  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Writing Short-Stories

How often do you write short-stories? How often do you read short-stories? What short-story contests do you follow?

I’ve been on a bit of a short-story writing binge, which is unusual for me, since I’m typically a strictly novelist type of writer (with some poetry once in a while). One thing I’ve really enjoyed about writing short-stories lately is that I can finish a 2,000 to 5,000 word story in a day, instead of taking three months to craft out an 85,000 word novel. So it’s pretty satisfying in that respect. Some of my favorite short-stories to read include Joyce, London, Irving, and Hawthorne.

What do you like to write? Novel? Non-fiction? Short-story? Poetry? Screenplay? Onstage drama? What types of contests have you found where you like to submit your work? 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Putting Your Dreams To Work

How do you utilize your sleeping hours? Do you ever use your dreams at night to get things done? Maybe you solve a problem or ruminate on something you’ve been thinking about?

I’ve noticed lately that I continue to dream about books I’m working on. Sometimes I’ll even come up with great plot elements in my sleep and later incorporate them into my writing when I’m awake. At first I thought this odd behavior until I looked online and learned that people all over the world from artists to mathematicians use their sleeping hours (their dreamtime) to help find solutions to whatever they’re working on in their waking hours.

So how can you better utilize your sleeping/dreaming hours? Do you ever get inspiration from a dream? How do you get in touch with your creative unconscious side?   

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

To Outline or Not To Outline

Do you create an outline before drafting a novel? How about for non-fiction or a short-story? How detailed do you get?

I’ve always been a pretty heavy outline user when it comes to prepping for my next work-in-progress. But for kicks lately I’ve been liberating myself and just flying blind, so to speak. I’ve been surprised at the results, and have actually liked some of the pieces I produced with little or no outlining. But I’m not sure if this is just a passing fad for me, or if I should really explore writing with a looser plan.

Do you find that an outline provides a path for you or restrictions? Do you find that an outline works better for you when writing in the third-person versus writing in the first-person? How do you strike a balance between inspiration and well-laid plans? 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer Rereading

Ever like to reread some of your favorite books? Maybe you find new meaning in a story you thought you already knew? Or perhaps you just enjoy the comfort of a book that you know ends well?

In the summertime, I like to reread books I haven’t touched in a while. Most of the year I’m conquering one novel after another, but it’s fun to just enjoy reading a story that I know I’ll really like. Lately, I revisited books on ancient Rome, 19th century New England, and now I’m reviewing some Celtic myth in the Mabinogion. Hey, it may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I dig itJ

 So what are your favorite books to reread? Any novels that remind you of summertime? If you could only take a few books with you during your stay on a deserted island, which would you bring (and survival books don’t count)? 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Working at Globant

Well, it’s been a busy last few weeks since I started my new job at Globant! I greatly enjoy continuing to work as a Technical Writer and am happy to add Globant’s wide offering of opportunities under my belt. Needless to say, it’s been a busy month, but I’m always happy to get paid to write for my day job.

It’s fun working downtown too, and I’ve got a great view of the city and bay from the 23rd floor. My wife works nearby so we’re able to meet up from lunches sometimes, which is another plus. If you’re interested to learn more about Globant, you can check out their site here.

So how are things going for you this summer, so far? How do you incorporate writing into your day job? What are the little perks that make your day better?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I Survived!

I’m back from the 150th anniversary reenactment at Gettysburg, and very glad to be amongst the living! I had a great time participating with the other 15,000+ reenactors as tens of thousands of spectators watched us recreated the three day battle that changed our nation’s history. I also had some time to tour the actual battlefield itself as well, which was great.

Our reenactment was only a few miles away from the town of Gettysburg, so visitors could hear us and we often drew large crowds to our battle scenes. The experience of marching alongside thousands of fellow reenactors from all across the country and the world really made it feel like we were part of a real army back in 1863. Needless to say, I’m also glad to return home after a week of smoke, bugs, and sore feet. But my fond memories of this weekend will last a lifetime.

As the 4th of July approaches, what will you be doing with your summer weekend? Gearing up for BBQs? Hanging out with family and friends? How do you celebrate summertime? 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gettysburg 150th Anniversay!

Do you enjoy the smell of black powder in the morning? How about over 10,000 reenactors facing off for a three day battle bent on historical accuracy? Did I mention that there’ll be cannons? Lots and lots of cannons.

This July 1st marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg! During this landmark occasion I’m flying back east to Gettysburg itself in order to take part in a large-scale reenactment commemorating the most pivotal battle in American History. Men and women from all over the country, and the world, will be travelling there to take part in what is sure to be a historic event in its own right. Many more will attend as spectators.

Reenactors portray Union and Confederate soldiers, as well as civilians. I myself fight for the North. How about you? If you could partake in this historical reenactment, which side would you choose? Yankee? Reb? Or a civilian caught in the middle?

Wish me luck…it promises to be a chaotic, loud, intense, exhausting, memorable, and fun weekend!

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Summer Solstice!

Ready for the first day of summer? Prepping for BBQs, outdoor activities, or maybe fireworks? Or perhaps you’re more into the spiritual side of the solstice as observed in cultures around the globe.

Today is officially the first day of summer and the longest day of the year! In places like Stonehenge and New Grange the sun rises and casts light through these structures in mystic ways intended by the ancients. I myself will probably be relaxing in my backyard garden and hanging out with friends. I’ve been a bit lax with my blogging lately due to a new job and hanging out with my six-month-old son, but I’m hoping to get back into the groove of posting regularly again now that summer has begun.

What are you doing with your longest day of the year? Or if you’re in the Southern hemisphere, what do you do with your shortest day of the year? Any summer activities on your to-do list?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Immaterial Evidence Release

Today, I'd like to announce the release of my fellow blogger and talented author's newest story in print, Milo Fowler's Immaterial Evidence. Check it out!

A detective with a price on his head. An invisible criminal with nothing to lose...

The vault door never opened. The bank went into lockdown in less than a minute. Yet the security footage was unmistakable: a hundred silver bars had simply vanished.

Ever since the city’s most dangerous crime boss put a price on his head, private investigator Charlie Madison has lived as an exile in Little Tokyo. But now an old friend and police sergeant has lured Madison back into the city to hunt down an invisible criminal—if he can.

As Madison makes his clandestine return, high-profile people start disappearing. And when federal agents swoop onto the scene to take matters into their own hands, they offer Madison a deal he can't refuse—as long as he agrees to work with them. With Japanese freedom fighters and refurbished killing machines threatening to take the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust, the United World government needs all the help it can get.

Embroiled in an unimaginable mystery, one private eye must rely on his wits to solve a case where the evidence is immaterial, and the odds are stacked high against him at every turn.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Beach Bum on Central Coast

Sorry that I’ve been absent for the last week-plus from the blog-o-sphere. My family and I took a much needed vacation down to the Central Coast and spent a week at Pismo Beach. It was our first big road trip with the baby and needless to say we had a great time.

If you’ve never been to Pismo Beach or the San Luis Obispo region of the Central Coast, I strongly urge you to take some time off and head down there. The weather is great, living expenses are cheap, and the people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met. The “SLO” life as it’s called is a great way to chill, relax, and forget about the stresses of everyday life.

So where do you like to vacation when you need to decompress? Any favorite haunts where you go to reinvigorate yourself? How do you prefer to get away from it all?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Civil War Weekend

Ever been surrounded by a few hundred rifles and a dozen cannons all going off at once? Have you wanted to go back in time and relive an era of history?

This weekend I took part in the annual Gibson Ranch Civil War reenactment in the Sacramento area. Needless to say, wearing wool in ninety degree heat and lugging around a hot musket are a great way to get some exercise on a warm spring day. It was also great getting a chance to take some shots at some Rebs (I fight for the North), and to see old friends I hadn’t seen in a while. This is but one of the many ways I not only relive history, but do research for my historical writing. This weekend alone I learned how to disassemble/reassemble an 1860s rifle and some other things I could never have learned in a book. I had to do it for myself.

So what are some ways you research for your writing? What are some places you like to go or things you like to do that enhances the authenticity of your work? 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day

Do you celebrate May Day? Odds are that you or someone you know does. It’s all about enjoying springtime and the coming summer days ahead.

The first of May means many things to different people. In Celtic culture it’s Beltane, which kicks off the warmer time of year and the fertility rites (think Mists of Avalon). In England people dance around the maypole, and in Russia crowds celebrate with a parade. Other parts of the world use May Day as a time to protest any grievances they may have, and today in places throughout the third world they’re doing just that.  

So how do you plan to celebrate the first of May today? Hang out with friends or maybe read some Arthurian May Day-oriented literature? Perhaps you’ll start your own May Day tradition?  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Alpha Cities

Do you live in or near an Alpha city? Perhaps you worked in one once? How much of the economy, politics, and cultural aspects of your local community are affected by one of the world’s top alpha cities?

Less than 50 cities worldwide are known as “Alpha” cities in that amongst these few dozen metro areas the majority of all human commerce, cultural influences, politics, and even relative human populations reside. I’m always interested in how people interact with each other on a global scale, and living/working in a major Alpha city (San Francisco), I’m continually curious about how these major metropolises effect the ever converging mix of human cultures. Some of the most important Alpha cities you probably already know, cities such as New York and London, but everything from Beijing to Sydney are up there as well. See where your nearest urban city fits in on the list here.

So what are the unique cultural aspects of the place you live? How does its economy, politics, and unique way of thinking effect the way you live your life and write about it? If you could live in or near any Alpha city, which would it be? 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shakespeare’s Birthday

And you thought you were old? Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Or how about wishing happy birthday to the greatest playwright in the English language?

Scholars dispute Shakespeare’s exact date of birth, but it was definitely this week approximately four hundred plus years ago. The Bard left us so many great treasures from his comedies and tragedies to his sonnets and histories. Whether visiting the Globe Theatre in London or watching Joss Whedon’s latest rendition of Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s writing continues to shape and define our culture and our souls to this very day.

What are your favorite Shakespeare plays? Perhaps you’ve memorized a favorite sonnet? Which film or live productions have particularly brought Shakespeare to life for you?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fraction of Stone by Kelley Lynn

Checkout Kelley Lynn's new book!!! 
Release Date: March 21st, 2013 by Sapphire Star Publishing
Genre: YA Fantasy

Wind tunnels, torrential rains and earthquakes tear apart Casden. The cause of the world’s imbalance is unknown, but the mounting occurrences suggest there’s little time before life ceases to exist.

Rydan Gale and Akara Nazreth are the only humans with the ability to wield magic. The tattoo on their necks and the discovery of an ancient book, dictate they are the key to the world’s survival.

But the greatest obstacle for saving mankind isn’t the bizarre creatures, extreme betrayals and magic-fearing men hunting them.

It’s that Akara doesn’t believe the world is worth saving. 

Eventually the day came when the voices in Kelley Lynn’s head were more insistent then her engineering professor’s. So instead of turning to her Thermodynamics book, Kelley brought up a blank page on her computer screen and wrote. Somewhere along the way she became a Young Adult author.

Kelley was born and raised a Midwestern girl. She’s not afraid to sweat and fills her free time with softball, soccer and volleyball. (Though you probably don’t want her on your volleyball team.) She occasionally makes guest appearances as a female vocalist for area bands.

You can find Kelley hanging out at her blog, titled in her name, as well as the group blog she shares with her fellow critique partners, Falling for Fiction. Kelley is a member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.

Kelley Lynn's Links: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Trailer:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 15, 2013

Writers and Taxes

It’s the most dreaded day of the year…tax day. Have you filed your taxes yet? Still trying to get them in?

If you’re a writer, there are some great potential benefits to consider when filing your tax returns, and it can save you some money in the long run.  For instance, if you attend writers' conferences headed by non-profits you can list them on your tax returns and get credit for your registration fees. So long as you’re in the budding stages of writing and not making a profit, your taxes on writing should be nil. If, however, you are fortunate enough to start making money as an author you can declare yourself a corporation, which many bestseller authors eventually do to avoid paying steep taxes on their book sales. These are just a few of the many benefits writers can take advantage of when doing their taxes. But remember, the best part of all is that it costs nothing to blog!

So how do you incorporate your writing career into your taxes? Any good practices/techniques that you’ve discovered when declaring your writing expenses? Any strategies you plan to employ to save yourself some money next year?