Why write about elves?

Terry Brooks is easily one of my earliest influences in the Fantasy genre. I spent much of 6th grade reading through everything I could find in our library and I’ve continued to read his work over the years. I wrote him a letter during middle school which he personally responded to.

(The earliest influence was Tamora Pierce.)

There are definitely times when I wonder if I’m wasting time writing fantasy. The field is quite saturated. I read something like Rothfuss and have to wonder if my writing will ever be at this level.

But fantasy is what I love. Even when I write SF, there are usually fantastical elements to the story. Fortunately fantasy readers are voracious readers, too. They will devour books they enjoy in a matter of days while these massive books take years to write and publish. There is always room for more. I just need to keep writing to get up to their level.

So here is a TedX talk that Terry did on why he writes about elves. It was grea to hear him talk about this and I couldn’t agree more.

I need to do a better job of mainting this blog. Put some actual content here rather than just letting it rot. So Monday posts are my goal from here on out.

-Keep writing.

Lo there do I see a novel

It was rather unexpected, but I started a novel last week. I really intended to finish off the year working on short stories. Though all the previous novels have led up to this one, so I guess it kind of makes sense. Obviously I haven’t outlined much, and that may end up causing some problems later, but for now I’m pressing on. So begins the descent into darkness.

Hollywood vs The Novel

Can you list any books made into movies that Hollywood hasn’t hacked apart?

Anyone who is a serious reader can form a long list of movies that Hollywood utterly failed in their execution. That list is easy to make.

Here are three books I think Hollywood managed to do well:

  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  • Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin
  • The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Even still, it’s easy to pick out places where Hollywood deviated from the book.

Is it fair to include Game of Thrones in the list? Granted, HBO is outside the normal distribution channels utilized by Hollywood. They did manage to follow Martin’s novels pretty closely so far. Of course, the opposite side of that coin is True Blood, which veers all over the novels from what I’m told.

If failure to match up to the book is the norm, why are we consistently taken by surprise when the movie in no way resembles the book except for the character names? Do we maintain too high expectations of Hollywood and their mass produced feature films? Perhaps we should simply consider the author’s work as canon and the movie as an Alternate Universe?

Vampires and Zombies, Oh My!

In recent years, there have been plenty of vampire stories, going from Lestat to vampires that are far more sparkly in nature.

Then zombie stories emerged. Or shambled rather, onto our bookshelves. Fast zombies, slow zombies, and everything in between.

Now Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds gives us a tasty combination of the two in his novel Double Dead.

Coburn the vampire awakes after an extended nap to find himself extremely hungry and not a tasty human in sight. Instead he finds the streets of New York littered with rotting zombies.

Coburn sets out to find anything to eat that isn’t already dead. When he finds  a young girl Kayla, she begs, pleads, and finally convinces him that they would be better off if he kept them alive to feed his hunger rather than killing them all outright. So Coburn joins Kayla and her friends on their trek across the country to find some measure of safety.

I really enjoyed this book. It was clear that Chuck gave his post apocalyptic world a lot of consideration. Coburn is cocky (as you might expect from a vampire) and it gets him into serious trouble.

Chuck has a way with words and his dialogue is fantastic. He also wraps up the story nicely in the end.

If you like vampires or zombies and want to see what happens when their worlds collide, you should definitely check out this book.

Why Books are Important

Chuck Wendig over at TerribleMinds told a great story of Pete, a man who loved books enough to take a bullet for them.

It’s a story for writers who hear “Why don’t you get a real job?” or are currently holding down a day job and writing with the remaining “free time”. If you’re struggling with why you should write, take a look at Pete’s story.

If you like it, pick up Chuck’s ebook and hear what he has to say.

-Keep writing.

Banned Books Week

Image from ALA.org
Image from ALA.org

If you’ve been around the internet in the last few days, you may have noticed this is Banned Book Week.

My sister was surprised to see this was still an issue. I’m surprised, to a point. Okay, you find the content of Twilight objectionable. (Add your own jab about  Twilight having tons of other issues besides content in the comments.) So don’t let your teen read it. That’s your choice, in your household. To go to your library and demand that they remove the book because you don’t like it… That’s idiotic.  The choice is yours to read the book or not read it. Let everyone else have that choice too.

Next up we look at some of the classics that either are banned or challenged on a regular basis:

  • The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger
  • The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  • Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  • Animal Farm, by George Orwell

These books are classics. They offer far more than the paragraph you managed to find of “titillating” text. Which I can assure you is far less violent than whatever you just watched on CSI Miami or far less provocative the the innuendo laden episode of the sitcoms currently airing.

Maybe you don’t let your teens watch those shows either. Good for you. Other people do like those shows, and those books, and it’s not up to you to take that away from them. Freedom means some people will pursue activities you don’t like. That is their choice, not yours.

So what book will you be reading this Banned Book Week? My book this week will be 1984, by George Orwell.

(I honestly had a hard time writing this post… The concept that a person would dictate what another person is able to reads is so utterly alien to me.)

A Battle to the Finish

It had come down to this, the two men aligned on the broken plain, a gentle breeze kicking up swirls of dust.

On one end of the field stood the figure of Jim Hines. A tiny fire spider scrambling from shoulder to shoulder across his leather jacket. Four princesses flanked Jim and a bookish looking person stood behind him shrouded in shadow. Arrayed across the field behind Jim was at least a horde of goblins, possibly two hordes. One particularly runty goblin with glasses separated itself from the horde and came to stand in front of Jim.

On my side, my army was not nearly so great. A knight stood to my right, unholy power leaking between the plates of armor. A wizard stood nearby ready to unleash his magic on any who approached. I hope the dragon was equally to the goblin horde, but who could say how that would go?

“I will not let you so blithely take control,” I yelled across he battlefield.

“I’m not even sure what this is all about,” Jim yelled back. “Why are we here?”

“You know perfectly well, Hines,” I said. “Don’t play coy with me. There is a point where your innocence bleeds into arrogance. I know you seek to take the Wizard’s Library from my hands.”

At these words, the bookish person in the shadows perked up.

“No,” Jim said. “I–”

“Enough of your words, sir,” I bellowed. “We fight now.”

Before I could give the order to charge, a young boy appeared before me. He wore a tabard of a blue field with white book on it. In his hands he held a rolled-up scroll.

“A missive from the gods, Sir.” The young boy’s voice cracked as he said the words.

I unrolled the scroll and read the contents aloud.

You are receiving this email because you are a maintainer of the community wizardlibrary.

According to the results of the Owner Election for this community, jimhines has been designated as the owner of this community.

“Well, it seems the masses have spoken, Mr. Hines,” I said. “Take good care of the place.”

I reached into my pocket and dug out a set of keys attached to a fierce wolf keychain and tossed the set to the new owner.

Good Quote

I am currently reading Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. I came across this today:

“What does the story mean, then?”
“It means what you want it to mean,” Hoid said. “The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”

That pretty much nails it. This is why.

Goals are moving along well. More writing than ever. Soon enough I’ll be caught up with my missed goals and moving on. I can only hope that I am giving you questions to think upon.


Life, as it has a habit of doing, keeps on going.

My goals have for the most part been met. Well, at least the writing part of it. Haven’t made much time for the guitar lately. On top of meeting my goals, I am about half way caught up on the month I missed. So overall, it is going well.

We’re still enjoy Rift. Of course, we aren’t those people that have rushed to level 50 in the first week. That’s your choice and all, but don’t wonder why there is nothing to do if you have finished the game that quickly. It’s not like EverQuest where it would take you years to reach the end game. Not that I want that either. I am happy with the pacing.

Dragon Age II came out of course, but it will be a while before I jump into that.

Currently reading Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. It is a great book. Just huge. Up next is Wise Man’s Fear. Then I think Brave New World or 1984.

Getting your work out there

This is as much for me as it is for you. I was browsing Warren Ellis’ blog feed today (he has an interesting mix of stuff) and he posted a link to the Not .99 Method DIY iBookstore.

If you are considering self publishing your work you should check it out.

Of course, you’ll have to do the marketing yourself, but that is pretty standard if you are working toward self publishing. Anyway, I think it is a cool method and I wanted to have the link around later if I decide to go that route. I also hate that everything is priced at .99. Thanks car makers, putting that car at 9,999 is a huge difference from 10,000. OMG an extra digit, I think my brain is melting…

Of course the drawback to this method is you won’t show up on Amazon or Apple or whomever you want to share the pie with. What’s that you say? You don’t want to share the pie with the corporate machine? I don’t want this to turn in to a “sell out vs wither in anonymity” debate. This is merely one method to consider when you are holding that manuscript you slaved over for months or years of your life.


As for me, life has been life. Writing has been sporadic, much as life. Had some great times with the kids sledding over the weekend. Started reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (a book which makes an excellent argument for ebooks. I won’t take the massive tome from my house, which is making reading slow to say the least. I am enjoying the book, but man it is huge. I can has digital copy with my dead tree version plzkthx.) Getting ready for that trip to the big D.

Feel like some equilibrium will be coming along soon. Though the only time life is going to let up, it will already be too late. So best to make of it what I can.

I feel sorely tempted to count these posts toward overall word count. But that just feels like cheating.