Monday, December 5, 2011

Review: Hunting the Five by Maria Violante

Maria Violante recently did a review for my novel and I am returning the favor on her short novella, Hunting the Five. It's a piece of a larger work and I'm excited to read the rest soon.

Maria's world building is exciting and engrossing. She creates characters I want to continue watching. The magic system is also very very cool. I spend a lot of time thinking about magic systems. I used two in my last book and I have a new one lined up for a fantasy series I'll be writing late next year. I should know when someone comes up with a golden magic system. Maria uses a dual magic system where each demon possesses minor powers, akras, along with one kernel of true power, their kevra.

De La Roca (as she calls herself) once was human and wound up in Hell. After an indefinite amount of time being tortured, she is offered a chance at freedom...with some catches. She must relinquish her memories, her name, her kevra, and become a sort of demon bounty hunter. She calls herself a mercenary, but that's not quite what she is. She and her horse, Alsvior, track and kill the nasties that shouldn't have ever found their way to Earth.

When Maria gets into De La Roca's head, it is compelling and well written stuff. I want to discover the secrets and get to know this character more and more. She does some dark and twisted stuff, sitting on the body of someone she killed as she smokes a cigarette, but then you get a back-story at the same time of her trying desperately to save a victim of one of the demons.

Alsvior is my favorite. He's loyal, clever, and able to change his shape to some degree, looking like any type of horse of any color. Who hasn't wanted a charcoal colored horse with flaming mane and tail?

She has some stunning descriptions. There's some dimensional travel, of which I'm a big fan, and she does some pretty imagery with it.

Maria's work isn't without flaws. She has some awkward sentences that I had to read over several times to understand her meaning. She doesn't use contractions as often as she should, especially in dialogue where people naturally use them without thinking. She also has some sudden jumps that I found annoying while reading. For the most part, she separates scene breaks with a little symbol, but now and again they show up from one paragraph to the next. It was distracting and disorienting. It also muddies up the plot, making the motivations of the other characters unclear when they shouldn't be.

She has some typos. Not a big deal. I can read over them easily and my own book still has several. Just things like "then" in place of "than", a missing "to" where one should be, a dangling "to" in another sentence where it should not be, "I" when it should be "It", and "her to knees" where it should have been "to her knees". Seriously, minimal problems.

The beginning feels out of line with the rest of the story though. I think it would have drawn me in more if Maria had dropped the first ten pages or so, but at least the first two. The character introduced there, Rico, doesn't seem to be important, doesn't show up again, and I dislike him. Not the best first impression of the story as Rico spouts clich├ęd sexist nonsense.

The story also uses profanity. I'm not the biggest fan of it, but I can ignore it most of the time when I read. I think sometimes it has a place, but it must be done well. Maria likes to use it in the same way, no matter what character is talking. Every single character uses "damn" the same exact way. People use profanity differently. I would have liked to see what kind of profanity some of the characters who are possibly thousands of years or more old might use...not just the same "damn".

All in all, a great read. I look forward to seeing what trouble De La Roca and Alsvior can get into as she explores this world of demonic magics and finds her way back to humanity...or not. It will also be a pleasure seeing Maria's natural talent develop and grow as she brings these things to vibrant life for us.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm a Visual Person!

I'm a huge technophile. I love new gadgets and scientific breakthroughs. I love knowing how things work.

Yesterday, I did a phone interview via skype for a book podcast. Let's talk about the technology behind that for a second.

A tiny magnet connected to vibration sensitive membrane takes my voice and converts it into an electric signal. This signal travels down cat5 cables to my modem. There it is converted into another electric signal and sent down metal cables for miles. Then it's converted into light and sent through hundreds of miles of glass threads. My voice then gets converted back into electric signals and makes its way to the other computer where another magnet, connected to a cone and another membrane, spits out my voice as sound once more...only slightly more nasal and weird.

If one of us uses satellite for our internet provider, then in the middle of that my voice is converted into invisible waves that travel into space. SPACE! My voice is an astronaut for a fraction of a second. How cool is this technology?

Despite how cool I think it is...it does not agree with me and my visual brain.

A while back I met with a book club at a high school. I was super nervous and even more sweaty, but I managed to talk intelligibly for almost an hour about my book, publishing, and writing. But, stick me in a room by myself and have me talk to my computer like it's a person and I devolve into a stuttering idiot.

At the book club:


On Skype:




I have the same problem with other audible technology. I am horrible on the phone and I apologize to anyone who has had to talk to me on the phone. My brain doesn't think the conversation is real and I end up sounding disinterested, clipped, and awkward. If something more real is going on, like driving, tv, or another live person in front of me, I'm even worse.

I avoid drive thrus for this reason too. They frustrate me. I want to look people in the eye and order my food or deposit my check. There is something lost when they can't see me either.

Inside, a cashier can see the look of bewilderment in my face as I contemplate the menu and give me more time to think.



Outside, I am berated.



Where would I have gone?



Inside, I can be clear and see understanding in the cashier's eyes.



Outside, I am yelling at some electronic billboard that has someone elses' order on it.






And I end up with onions, fries, a diet soda I didn't want, and a vanilla shake.

Luckily, when it comes to the interview, they are letting me rerecord it today. Here's hoping I can manage not to sound like a moron.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reviews are Friends...Not Posts

I know pointing you to reviews of my books by other bloggety types is not a substitute for my own clever posts. I'm going to keep doing it now and again though.

My good friend and brother-in-law, Brent Wescott, over at Building Castles on the Beach just wrote a review for my book along with several others. He is apparently a slow reader (who knew?), but I'm glad he finally finished, liked the book, and got the surprise ending.

The Crystal Bridge also got reviewed at Word Spelunking. Isn't that the greatest name for a book blog? Strap on your headlamp and explore the beautiful mysteries that are hidden deep within the words. She also has a cool name. Aeicha. I have no idea how to pronounce it, but I have always liked different names. I want to name a child Tadlan or Linea...so there. I also let Aeicha give away a copy of Zombies at the Door, Planning for the Inevitable. She did more than that, she went and reviewed that book too. How awesome is that? I'll tell you how awesome...much!

I should have more reviews to share shortly. I have an interview for a podcast or two this week. I also plan on putting the velociraptor on youtube soon...against all my better judgement. I am also very close to starting book two of the Lost Shards series, the sequel to The Crystal Bridge, called The Glass Spiral. I'm getting excited to write it.

If you've read the first book, go ahead and keep reading. If you haven't...well, shame on you and don't keep reading until you have. Spoilers ahead!!

Book two begins where the last one left off. Here are some questions that will be answered:

Will they ever make it home? I don't know yet.

Will Rho make another appearance? Yes, of course.

Will Rho be the main villain this time? No.

Will Lyle find happiness and true love? Yes and yes, eventually.

Will more people die? Possibly...sorry.

Will we see Aren's and Kaden's powers evolve? Definitely a YES!! So Excited to push them further.

Who will be important? Aren and Kaden will be big as you expect. James will be there in the beginning and Lyle in the end. Dveldor, Hasla, and Taggers will show up for a bit too. But, look for Penny to play a large role along with a couple new god-like characters. I can't tell you any more without giving anything away. Oh, it's gonna be good!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reviews and Craziness

This will just be a quick post.

I've been spending a large amount of time submitting my novel to book review blogs, hoping that more people will be exposed to my writing and decide to take a look. I've gotten a few people expressing interest, but most have such a huge stack of reading material that they either turn me away or tell me it will be months. I'm fine with the wait. I can be patient and am just happy that more people want to read it.

One person read it in like two days and posted a review. Some bad, but mostly good. I'm happy with having some issues to overcome and work to do. It is my first novel after all. Even the greatest authors have mistakes in their first. Here is a link to the review. And another link to a little interview with her. Thank you all for the support. I am nothing without my readers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Things I Learned

I had my first public appearance as an author yesterday. I met with a high school book club that is about to read my novel, The Crystal Bridge. I'll be heading back in a month after they finish reading. There were a few surprises. I'll share some of those lessons learned from the experience.

1- I really can talk about my book, writing, and publishing intelligibly for a long time. I was super nervous that no one would have questions and we would just stare at one another. Maybe I'd get out ten or twenty minutes worth of stuff and then look dumb. That wasn't the case. They had questions and I filled most of an hour. I probably could have filled another hour, but they had to go to class.

2- Wearing a sweater is a good idea. I sweat more than any human should when I'm nervous. I changed shirts like four times and looked at a couple jackets before I left my house. I then threw on a sweater at the last minute. It was a great choice. They couldn't see how nervous I was, even if my shirt was sticking to me underneath it all. I looked calm and confident. I don't know what I'll do in the summer.

3- I should remove the bit about a velociraptor impression at the end of my book. Someone flipped to the back and read my About The Author section. She wanted to see the velociraptor. I was super embarrassed, but did it. It involves me loping across the room, screeching like a crazed lizard. I think the kids thought it was fun, but they may also think I'm a crazy person.

4- I like talking about writing. Not only did I find I had the words, I also didn't struggle with them. I didn't say "um" or "uh" or stutter a lot. The only time I stuttered for a bit was right after I did the velociraptor and I was also blushing. Then I warmed back to the subject at hand. I enjoyed discussing the writing process and the words flowed from me rather smoothly. This was a surprise. I haven't done public speaking in a long long time. I expected it to be harder, but I guess passion for the subject helps more than I imagined.

5- Sitting on a desk with your feet on a chair makes you look cool. At least I felt that way. I didn't have to stand awkwardly at the front of a classroom, unsure what to do with my hands. I didn't have to lean on a podium with a big block of wood between me and them. I didn't have to sit at a table on a stage feeling alone and isolated. I got to sit just slightly above everyone and talk to them like they were my friends. I felt awfully cool...I assume I looked the part too...even with the sweater.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Insecurity and Soup


I missed the Insecure Writer's Support Group post last week. Tuesday night my wife turned into a soup sandwich. I spent all night and part of the morning taking care of her. I was too exhausted the next day to do much of anything. I think we laid on the couch and watched a lot of tv.


My wife is feeling much better now, not so soupy. So, I'm moving on with the support post.

Despite not posting anything, there's still plenty of insecurity and support surrounding me and my writing. I've sold five copies of my book this month. Painful. I knew it would slow down before the holidays, but I wasn't expecting this. I hope that things pick up with all those new tablets and ereaders people will get in December.

I've submitted my novel to over thirty book review blogs this week. Many of these will choose not to read my book. Many will not get around to it for months. I'm okay with both of these. I know I don't have unlimited time. Neither do these kind folks out there who love to read and share what they like. I'm going to be patient. It gives these blogs more time to add followers and for readers to get used to their shiny new tablets anyway.

Being self published means I don't have to rush to sell all my copies in print so the publisher will print again. I can wait and let my audience grow bit by bit. I can fix typos. I can work on my next book. I'm thankful for my friends on here who have been crazy supportive. You are amazing human beings and I am humbled to know you, even if in just some weird digital sense of the word.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Day of Scares

I decided I should do a Halloween post. Don't worry. I won't be sharing any of my ghost stories. I don't share those. They tend to freak everyone out, including myself. They're real. No need to embellish them to make them scarier. They are the type of things any ghost hunter would love to stumble upon. Every time I tell them, things go badly, like the camping trip I ruined.

So, I'll share a funny story instead.

Since I've experienced real situations that make me shudder to recall them, nothing much else manages to scare me. I laugh through horror movies. I argue with zombie shows that get everything wrong. I giggle through haunted houses and smile sweetly as the poor staff attempt to frighten me and fail over and over.

I love haunted houses though. Someday, I would like to run one. I helped out with one when I was twelve. I was in the dungeon room. It was so much fun. I go to haunted houses now for ideas and to see the wonderful sets, props, and makeup.

One Halloween I went with a group of friends to one of the better haunted houses I've seen. As you parked and made your way to the front door, people on stilts in crazy clown and bat costumes followed you, eliciting screams before anyone even paid for the privilege. In line, zombies attacked. The people selling tickets wore horrifying costumes.

My friends pushed me ahead and I led them into the dark. I easily spot the sliding trap doors, the peepholes, the boo spots. After a few ghouls tried to scare me, they got the idea to focus on my friends. I helped them. Whenever I saw an upcoming peephole, I'd make eye contact, point at someone behind me, and smile. The staff was wonderful and caught on instantly. It made for a fun night.

At the end of the house they had an optional mirror maze. We decided to do it. My friends once again pushed me ahead.

Them: "You're good at these types of things. You lead."

Me: "Okay. Fine with me."

I like puzzles. I spend a few seconds figuring out how to guide them through. We didn't bump into a single mirror or glass wall. I also managed to avoid the dead ends where people were hiding, waiting to jump out. Literally less than two minutes later we stepped out into fresh air. My friends had the gall to be upset with me.

Them: "You made it too easy."

Me: "You didn't have to follow me."

Them: "Of course we did. You know what you're doing."

Me: "I suppose you all could go explain the situation and see if they'll let you go again."

None of them wanted to. I was glad. I really didn't want to wait around for them for the half hour it would take to go through themselves.

But, the real story here is this, this haunted house managed to scare me a little. In the middle of the house part, before the end and the maze, we came to a dirt road flanked by cornfields. This was all indoors. I was amazed at the sets. We walked down the road and came to an old farmhouse.


In front of the farmhouse was a girl. She stood still, staring ahead with a blank expression on her face. She held a hammer in her right hand. She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, not a costume, not a lick of makeup. She frightened me.


All the other patrons were flowing past her, unafraid. Some laughing at the lack of imagination. I made a wide arc around her, keeping her in sight the entire time. I then glanced back several times to make sure she hadn't moved.


As we entered the house, a few of my friends made fun of me.

Them: "You aren't afraid of zombies or psycho clowns, you didn't even flinch as people popped out of walls, you laughed at the freaky things outside...and you're afraid of a girl with a hammer?"

Me: "She doesn't look like she works here."

They couldn't argue with that. This is the way I saw it.


I still don't know if she worked there or just wandered in after escaping from an institution or prison. Have a safe and happy Halloween! Avoid girls with hammers.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Luckiest People

I took all the entries to my contest and ran them through a randomizer that picks winners. I only got to see the boring webpage, but I'm sure it looks like some crazy Dr. Seuss machine on the other side with womboozles and their vemtuzles (spell check must love that man).

The lucky recipients of my books are:

Atypical Scott

and

Ruthykins

Congratulations!! I will try to contact you this weekend or you can email me at raptorbark (at) hotmail (dot) com. I'll need to know if you want print or digital. I'll also need your address if you want print. Thank you all for entering and playing along with my fraggle self.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reading in the Bathroom

First, a reminder to enter my contest and win my books. Then, on to the story.

When I was thirteen and living in Florida, I was very into books. I'm still into books, but, since Florida sucked more than suckitude, I was extra into books there.

I read in my bedroom. I read in the living room. I read on the bus. I read everywhere.

My favorite place to read was the bathroom. When you have eight siblings, the bathroom is often the only place to go for some true peace and quiet.


On such a day there came a knock on the door. I wasn't actually using the bathroom. I just was annoyed with my family and had escaped to read.


I ignored it.


The knock came again. More insistent.


I answered.


Again the knocking. Louder, more urgent.


I realized I should probably let someone else use the bathroom. The other one might be in use.



At that moment, my sister did something to infuriate my brother who had been knocking on the door. What did she do? I have no idea. I don't really want to know. This is the result.


Fist through the door.


I nearly peed my pants after spending twenty minutes in the bathroom. That would have been hard to explain.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Celebrating Fraggle Style

I recently rewatched the first episode of Fraggle Rock.



Wow. It was fun to remember things about the show. Here is a highlight.

- Clothing is optional. Some fraggles wear shirts, some hats, some a scarf, and many wear nothing at all. Are fraggles semi-nudists?

- Doozers are still cool. They work all the time, but they're stinking cute. I wanted one as a pet when I was little and I always wondered what their construction tasted like.

- The Trash Heap continues to freak me out. There is nothing more unnatural than sentient compost. So wrong.

- Fraggles celebrate everything. "You got a letter. Let's all dance and sing!" I think we can learn a lesson from them.

I am now over 1,000 pageviews for the month. The closest I've ever come before was 950. It's time to celebrate, fraggle style.

No, I'm not going to dance and sing. That might scare you all. My wife says I dance like a disturbed cartoon character and my singing is random and not great. Instead, I'm going to give away my books.

Yep, two wonderful followers are going to get a copy of The Crystal Bridge and Zombies at the Door, Planning for the Inevitable. I'll send you a print or digital copy, whichever you prefer. Yes, two. Each of you will get a copy of each. That's four books I'm giving away.



                   



To enter, leave a comment below. That's it.

But, for more chances to win, you can also:
- Tweet about the contest or the books
- Post on Facebook about the contest or the books
- Post on Google+ about the contest or the books
- Blog about the contest, the books, or the author.
- Add The Crystal Bridge to your Goodreads shelf

Make sure you mention what you did in the comment. Good luck to all. I look forward to seeing two of you read my books for free. I will announce the winners next Friday, the 28th.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crazy Awesome Week

Thanks to the recent blogfest, I now have over 100 followers. This is something I thought would take me months to accomplish and it happened in two days. I want to welcome all my new friends. You, along with my old friends, are amazing! I have gotten more support from this little blog than I ever imagined. Finishing my novel is partly thanks to all of you.

I'm also very close to getting over 1000 pageviews this month. That's never happened before. This post will, most likely, put me over the top. I think I'll have a celebration next week for these accomplishments. I may have to give away a copy of my book.

For my new friends, I blog about once a week. I draw goofy comics and I babble about writing, though not usually at the same time. I'm hoping you enjoy both.

I also want you to understand my humor and see what my little blog has to offer, so I've compiled a list of must see posts. You don't have to visit them all, but click on one or two. You'll thank me later.

Newspaper and Bathtubs Do Not Mix

How I Almost Got Shot

Why Skunks Love Me - Part One

My wife is weird and I am Hat Eye!

The Thing - Part Two (Revenge)

The best camping trip, ever!

Yes, wax is a grease!

Never gobble at a turkey!

The ANTM Guilty Pleasure

The Crystal Bridge and Me Talking to Myself

I'll also leave you with two drawings I did from my novel. Don't worry, the novel is better written than these are drawn.




Thank you all for stopping by and for the wonderful comments and support. And thank you to everyone who bought the novel. I really can't thank you enough.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay it Forward, A Festival of Blogs


I'm paying it forward. Here are three blogs I love...or four because I always cheat. After you check them out, you should check in with the founders and see the list of those participating if you haven't already.

1- Brent Wescott over at Building Castles on the Beach. He's a writer, hoping to get something published soon, a teacher, and very funny.

2- Emily White over at Emily White. She is an author and publishing her book, Element, soon. I'm excited for her and to read her novel.

3- Doug Stephens over at I Like Cheese. I do like cheese. I also enjoy his stickmen and he is hilarious. I did an interview with him and he had the funniest questions.

4- Chanel over at Fabulously Neurotic. She often rants and rages against the world or against the woman who tried to kick her dog. Her writing is beautiful and funny, more than she realizes I think.

Enjoy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Neurotic Dog Part One

The other day we dropped off our dog, Mahoney, for his haircut. We decided to try a new groomer to support one of the parents of a student my wife teaches.

You must first know my dog is super neurotic. He's a huge chicken. He's afraid of the vacuum cleaner, exercise balls, our laundry basket, the spzzzzzzt sound of the mop sprayer, other dogs, and all people besides me, my wife, my brother, and my father in-law.

We've tried to help him overcome some of these. We tried taking him to the dog park so he could make friends. He wound up cowering underneath our camp chairs and eyeing the other dogs suspiciously every single time. We've tried having people hand him treats when they first enter the house. We've tried holding him and letting neighbor kids pet him on our walks. They love him, but he squirms and whimpers. Nothing works. He remains the biggest chicken ever, but he's super cute and sweet with my wife and I.

We got the phone call to pick him up and we drove over. I walked in and paid while the groomer went and picked him up. She handed him over, but not without asking a question.


I got out to the car and sighed, turning to my wife.


I don't know what else to do. We took him for a walk at night the other day. As we passed a house with a bright porch light our shadows crawled across the ground.



When my shadow reached alongside our dog, he yelped, jumped, and almost fell in the gutter as he tried to get away from the scary thing.


I think there's no hope.

I'll leave you with some cute videos of Mahoney. Just click on them.



Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bad News

I got some bad news today that left me feeling a little down about my decision to indie publish. I'll write a huge post about the whole thing on Monday or Tuesday. I'm hoping all my bloggety friends are well this weekend. You have been amazingly supportive. I hope you're okay with some venting. Maybe I'll do a funny comic post on Monday to break things up. Yeah. That would be good for all of us. Thanks again. You are freaking awesome. I couldn't ask for better online, virtual, mostly unmet friends.

Charlie

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insecure Writers Support Numero Dos


It's that time again. The first Wednesday of every month The Insecure Writers Support Group gets together and we write about our fears, flaws, insecurities, and inspirations. Thank you Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting this sobfest that I am a part of.

My novel is done. I edited it many times. I formatted many more times. I self published it on Kindle, Nook, and in print.


It looks good. People are buying it and loving it. I'm getting great reviews. My dreams are coming true. What is there to be insecure about?

There's always something, isn't there? Now I worry that my sales won't pick up. I worry that I'll have to go back to a soul-crushing job when I'd be a million times happier writing. I fear I will run out of money and my wife and neurotic dog will starve and hate me for putting them in the poor house.

Okay...that's enough for today. My writing is professional. My book is amazing. The sales will pick up, because good writing get's noticed. That's what I'm going to keep saying to myself as I work on another novel and look for a part time job.

As a treat for visiting, I am leaving you with my drawing of a pivotal scene in my book. I do goofy comics on my blog in almost every post. How could I not in this one? I did this for an interview I did with another blogger. I'm sure he won't mind me using my own drawing here too. My novel is science fiction, but it does have dragons. Enjoy.




Monday, September 26, 2011

The Crystal Bridge and Me Talking to Myself



I'm here today to do an interview with myself. Sounds crazy, I know.
Writers are slightly crazy to begin with. We have all these characters in our heads, whispering, shouting, giggling nonstop, or whimpering in the corner. We invent them, give them a voice all their own, and come up with their personal way of viewing the world. How crazy is that? To have these complete or semi-complete people floating around in our heads?
My novel has like forty-two point of view characters. That makes me extra crazy. It’s not really that many, closer to ten, but you get the point. Talking to myself isn’t much of a stretch. So, here goes.

Q: What’s the story behind this whole The Crystal Bridge thingy?
A: Thingy? I’m glad I’m the writer out of the two of us.

Q: I know, right? Dodged a bullet there.
A: Okay, the novel originally came into my head as two separate dreams. Dream one was about a boy who could open wormholes to other worlds. Nobody else could see them and he always returned to the same moment he left, unchanged. So, no one believed him. Dream two was about a lab creating holographic simulations that began reaching into alternate worlds with some odd side effects.  Several interesting characters emerged the more I thought about these strange dreams.

Q: How did these separate dreams become one?
A: My wife suggested that I should combine them, so I did.

Q: Smart man.

A: This is true.
Q: Tell me about some of these other characters.

A: Well, Kaden is the teen boy with the wormholes. Aren is a teenage girl who can see and experience other people’s memories as though they were her own. James is a geneticist obsessed with dragons, Angie is his boss, running the genetic simulations department for one of the bad guys, Vander. I have more characters who pop up on the other world and a villain creature that lives between universes. I could go on and on. There’s Evandrel, Hasla, Dveldor, Taggert, and—
Q: Let’s stop there. We don’t want to give too much away, do we?

A: Um…I guess not.
Q: You really want to say one more character’s name, don’t you?

A: And Lyle. Lyle’s pretty cool.
Q: Feel better?

A: Much, thank you.
Q: Sounds complex. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

A: Didn’t I already mention dreams?
Q: Did you?

A: I’m pretty sure forgetting a conversation you had three seconds ago with yourself isn’t a good sign. You may need help.
Q: Probably right. Mostly dreams then?

A: Yes. I have six or seven stories floating around my noggin that have all come from dreams. I’m very lucky, I know. While most people dream of scary clowns, losing their teeth, or flying, I end up with nano-genetic mutations, wormholes, soul thieves, and talking magical doorknobs.
Q: Talking what now?

A: Doorknobs, well, just one actually. So…doorknob. That will be in another novel later. The doorknob also walks around in a trench-coat to hide his brassy features. I think I’ll call him DK.
Q: I’m sorry I asked. Weirdo.

A: That’s me. Isn’t it great?
Q: Great…yes. That’s the word I was looking for. So any plans for a sequel with The Crystal Bridge?

A: Originally, no, but ideas crept into the story anyway. Then I had another dream. At least one more novel, possibly two. I’ve got some great twists planned and we’ll see how the wormholes interact with Aren’s gift more and then the quantum—
Q: Wow. Look at the time. This is all very interesting, but it’s all we have time for today.

A: You just looked at your wrist. Are you trying to get rid of me?
Q: What? Me? Never. I’m nothing without you. You complete me.

A: Yep, you’re right. When you start giving yourself false compliments, it’s time to wrap it up.
Q: I couldn’t have said it better.

A: I’m sure you could have. Or, I could have in the first place. I am a writer.
Q: Are you finished?

A: Yes, sorry.
Q: Thank you, Charles, for joining me today.

A: My pleasure, honestly. Thank you, Charles, for having me and for the wonderful questions. It was fun. And thank you, Charles, for letting us put a little of my crazy on your blog. You most likely won’t regret it.

The Crystal Bridge is available here:
Kindle Version 

Print Version

Nook Version

Cover art by Karl-Erik Bennion

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mutant Squirrels

My friend and brother in law, Brent Wescott of the Colorado Wescotts, did a post about squirrels over at Building Castles on the Beach. I did a few drawings for him. You should check it out. Crazy squirrels always makes me think about this Phineas and Ferb, one of the best cartoons ever.


That's going to be stuck in your head all day. You're welcome.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The ANTM Guilty Pleasure

Back when I had a job, I came home one day and opened the door to find my wife curled up with a blanket on the couch looking very ashamed and guilty. I gave her a questioning look and she looked down.



"You caught me."

I had no idea what she was talking about until I saw Tyra on the tv. My wife was watching America's Next Top Model. It comes on in these blocks, showing an entire series one show after another. My wife had been watching for hours.

I rolled my eyes, went and changed, and then started on dinner. I cook. My wife does not. As I made dinner, I found myself getting sucked into the madness and I ended up watching a couple episodes after dinner.

I've caught her a couple more times and ended up with the same results. We don't go out of our way to watch the show, but we end up watching it when it happens to pop up and nothing else is worth watching. My wife seems to be somewhat obsessed with watching them once she finds them on. I admit, the show is addictive.

Why?

Because it's bizarre...really really bizarre. That might not sound like a good reason to watch something, but it is. Isn't that why we read and go to movies? To find something unlike our normal lives. This show delivers that in droves.

First off there's Tyra. She is beautiful, but the craziest things come out of her mouth. It's like she's a half trained exotic bird. Everyone is excited to see her, but at the same time they're waiting for her to fly into the audience and attack someone. Some of the things she's said have made me laugh for ten minutes straight.



Then there are her friends and designers. They are beyond strange. Miss J insists on doing something outrageous each season that makes him look homeless or ridiculous. He wore an afro wig one season that got bigger each episode. Another season he wore a poncho thing made of a dozen different fabrics laid on top of one another that looked like he stole old ladies' doilies and dyed them.



These people are at the pinnacle of fashion? It's also funny to me that most of the judges and guest judges don't resemble the ideal model in the slightest. They are short, frumpy, and lumpy. They wear ugly clothing. They look average. How can these people sit and judge these models? Yet, they do. This irony always has me drawn in more than I care to admit. I want to see how unattractive the next designer is.

The models themselves aren't all that attractive. This is the true reason we watch. These girls are thrown together in an upscale apartment surrounded by pictures of Tyra in a way that only a stalker would truly appreciate. Pictures of Tyra stare at them in the closets, hallways, even bathrooms. Seriously, it's creepy.



I had a mental picture of super models being perfect delicate creatures we mortals can barely understand. They glide into rooms and men flock to them, throwing their power and money at them in vain attempts to capture their beauty for themselves. This is not the case. These women are often weird looking and awkward. It amazes me each time they show the pictures at the end and you see a stunningly beautiful model. You look from the picture to the girl and shake your head in wonder. What? How?

The photo-shoots are another great part of the show. Let's have you stand next to a burning car in the desert, crawl through garbage at the landfill, rub your body against a stone wall, dress you up in 16th century hooker outfits, or put you in a plastic bubble and have you walk on water. Who comes up with these and what is wrong with them? Are they ancestors of the Spanish Inquisition? Sometimes the shots are gorgeous and sometimes they scare the stuffing out of me. I will leave you with some cartoon portrayals of what I mean.



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