One Eye Opens – The Free Preview to The Awakening

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is now available at smashwords.com!

The Art of Being Artless

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For my wife’s birthday today, I made these two projects.

I’m definitely not a crafts person, but I’m pretty happy with the results.

Happy Birthday to the love of my life!

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry – For Tomorrow We Die

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I suppose the real title should be: Eat (Ice Cream), Drink (Lots of water), and Be Merry for Tomorrow We Die(t).

Tonight was a special night as my family celebrated not one but two glorious moments.

Yes, that’s right, tomorrow is my lovely bride’s birthday. 27 beautiful years of gracing this planet.

But that’s not all. (Oh no.) You see, in just a few short days my wife will also be giving birth to our second son and to all of the chaos that ensues with a newborn. Therefore, my oldest will no longer be a loner on his branch in the family tree.

Needless to say, tonight was a cause for celebration. In honor of both occasions, I forced everyone in the family (all three of us) to eat the largest banana split this little town in the Central Valley of California has to offer.

Grandpa Jim’s.

There is this quaint little candyshoppe/soda fountain/ice cream parlor that has long defined my home town. It is a staple of my city, just as country music and nascar might define some city in the south. (Okay, those kind of define my city, too) Anyway, this wonderful place was the site of our revelries this eve, and I thought it fit to use the occasion to explain my absent presence on wordpress for the past couple of weeks.

As stated above, the first and foremost reason is the impending arrival of our newest miracle of life. This has brought the utmost chaos and work to our lives unseen in these parts for quite some time.

Second, and more occupationally, my students started state testing this week. For all you teachers out there, you smell what I’m cooking. (For all those non-teachers, its more or less a charred, rotting piece of salmon.)

Third, and more excitingly, I have been in preparations for my upcoming release of my first novel. I have been working closely with my cover designer trying to craft the perfect image, reorganizing the format of the text so it will actually fit into createspace’s requirements as well as smashword’s, and making sure the editing is all worked out.

You might have seen some of my posts about it. You’ll probably receive these more often as the release date approaches. Just a simple reminder. Plus, I’m thinking of giving a free trial purchase for the first week of the novel’s release. Just for those of you out there with commitment issues.

Anyway, I hope to get back into normalcy after the baby has arrived and continue my riveting posts. (See what I did there?)

Until then,

Peace and Long Reads.

The Clock is Ticking…

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8countdown

Be the first to experience The Awakening!

bookcover

When Landon receives an inheritance ring engraved with a cryptic riddle from his deceased father, he must set out on a journey to unlock the ring’s secrets that could bring about the end of the world.

The Awakening, the first book in the The Stones of Revenge Series will be available Monday, July 15, 2013.

Look for it on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords.com, Sony, and Diesel ebook stores.

The Countdown Has Begun…

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9countdown

Be the first to experience The Awakening!

bookcover

When Landon receives an inheritance ring engraved with a cryptic riddle from his deceased father, he must set out on a journey to unlock the ring’s secrets that could bring about the end of the world.

The Awakening, the first book in the The Stones of Revenge Series will be available Monday, July 15, 2013.

Look for it on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords.com, Sony, and Diesel ebook stores.

The 5th Dimension and more!

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This post is slightly delayed and I do so apologize. I have been tied up with parent conferences (or for any other teachers out there: the 5th Dimension) for the past week or so.

Oh, I’m sorry. When I said 5th Dimension, were you thinking of these guys?220px-5th_Dimension_1969

That probably would have been more exciting. Sorry.

No, conferences,  I must say, are such an interesting concept. They are the same virtually every time. I sit across from one of my students and his/her parents to discuss behavior and grades. Everytime I do one of these I encounter 1 of 3 types of students.

Student Type 1: The Interpreter

I work at a school with quite a large population of English Learners whose parents speak little to no English. Now, whenever I have a conference with these students, they typically translate for me. At first I was skeptical about using the sudents for fear that they would repeat whatever they wanted, but I have come to find that these students relate my words quite faithfully, even the difficult students. Usually the parents smile and nod and are away within a few minutes. Quite a painless operation. 

Student Type 2: The Reformer

This student is the one who sits with his/her parent and get grilled for their behavior or grades. They take the verbal punishment and vow to change. They look their parents in the eyes and promise to come in early to turn in missing work or serve detention. And they do.

For a week.

Then their behavior reverts back to the way it was pre-conference. I never hear from the parents during the year, nor can I get a return phone call or email.

Student Type 3: The Faithful

This student comes to conferences knowing full well what is going to be said for it has been said time and time again. Either they are the top students who are constantly praised or the most difficult who are constantly warned. Parents don’t say much. They nod their head and move on quickly to another teacher.

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Conferences are definitely the 5th Dimension. Something beyond this world that can be counted on time after time to waste time. There exists only the rare occasions where something different comes out of these exchanges, but they are few and very far between.

Anyway, time for the weekly update.

 These conferences have pre-occupied my time, and I have not stuck to my workout routine mostly since I’ve been getting home at 8 pm and crashing an hour later.

Speaking of which, I need to give my shoutout to LMarie for her comment with a great link and great ideas on a new workout routine.

SHOUT OUT TO LMARIE!!!!

I have not started a new one, partly due to conferences, but mostly due to a larger problem that I constantly struggle with. I have always struggled with it. It is the one thing that keeps me from moving forward.

The problem is that when my routine gets messed up, even in the slightest, I tend to get completely discombobulated and defeated. Such as the case has been since Easter.

I had a week off from normalcy and saw my exercise slipping. Then my eating habits started going with it. Then I went back to work and didn’t reset everything. Then I spent time in the 5th Dimension, and here I am on the brink of giving up entirely.

I don’t want to give up.

I don’t want to fail, again.

I don’t want to stay in this current routine.

But I also don’t want to start over from the beginning.

So I’m struggling. I’m struggling the same laziness and poor eating habits that got me here.

Now, I want change. I want to find victory. I want to defeat my weight and have power over it. So, I’m going to push on. No matter what I have to do, I’m going to find my routine again. I’m going find myself weighing less and achieving my goals. I am going to win. And by the grace of God, I am going to do it.

By the Grace of God.

Exercise 2: Character Dimensions

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Today I am bringing to you one of the lessons from the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by David Maass. This book is chock full of amazing ways to refine your manuscript and give your story that extra je ne sais quoi. I’m enjoying this book so much that I thought I would show you all a little bit of the work I have been doing.

(And maybe, while shamelessly plugging his book, Mr. Maass will inadvertently discover this blog, see that I am giving him free advertisement, become interested in my book, and advertise it unto the world. . . .Well a guy can dream, can’t he?)

Today’s lesson is about giving your protagonist conflicting sides to make them more dimensional and, in turn, making them more realistic. Now, I felt pretty confident that my protagonist was already quite multidimensional. Then I read this section from the book:

“How many sides of your current protagonist do you reveal? I know what you are thinking: My hero is multidimensional. Me hero is complex! But let me ask you: Is he complex and multidimensional only in your mind, or actually on the page?”

Ouch.

That forced me to take a step back and re-assess. I knew my hero could be multidimensional, but perhaps I needed to do a little more work. I was ready to accept Mr. Maass’ help.

Step 1: What is my protagonist’s defining quality?

This step was easy. I had already decided this way back when when I had first planned the novel: Idealist. I wanted Landon, my hero, to be an idealist. (Kind of like Luke Skywalker was in “A New Hope”.) Done.

Step 2: What is the opposite of that trait?

Easy again. Realist.

Step 3: Write a paragraph in which your protagonist demonstrates that trait.

Hmmm. Okay, now we got a problem. What part of the story should I use for context? Should it be in the beginning so readers can begin to see the depth of the character early on? or Should I give readers a few chapters to get used to one side of Landon’s character before I show them a new one? I began to get caught up in trying to write the perfect paragraph.

Finally, I decided to stop thinking and just start writing. I told myself to just take what comes out and fix it later.This is the God-awful paragraph that I wrote in 5 minutes:

“Landon saw the world around him. He understood Gavin’s words to be true. Life was not perfect. The world was a dark cruel place, as much as he didn’t want to believe it. So he understood why Gavin had done what he did. Survival of the fittest was the truth of the world.”

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Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 with a different character trait.

I did and again this is the horrible first draft I came up with:

1. Optimist

2. Pessimist

3. “Of course he wasn’t here, he thought. No one ever really cared about him. His parents didn’t want him. His uncle never wanted him. This world didn’t even seem to want him.”

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Now these paragraphs definitely needs work, but I wanted to share with you that after having just done one of the exercises, I feel so much freer about who my protagonist is and where I can take him.

Eventually, I decided that the competed first paragraph could be added about halfway through the novel while the second could be placed towards the beginning. I even began plans for more qualities and more moments to show these qualities.

So far, I am only a few exercises into the book, but already I can tell you that it is a great tool for writers. I am beginning to see this as essential an understand why C.H. Griffin boasted so highly of it.

If any of you writers out there feel like you could use any help at all with your story, I highly suggest getting this workbook. It truly can change your manuscript into a breakout novel.

Now, I’m just praying it does for mine! 🙂

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