Monthly Archives: August 2011

Monday Meditations: Peace

I submit that in peace we discover our deepest insights and our deepest strength. Whether with our closest friends or ourselves, we must shut the world out for a while. Always it presses. When we can block it out, we can think for ourselves a little bit.

I have discovered this while writing The Kingdom: The Quest. Therefore, I have selected these songs and quotes to help you do the same.

SONGS OF THE WEEK

“We’re Going To Be Friends” by The White Stripes

Jack White is best known for his wild, wailing electric guitar. Here, he picks up an acoustic guitar and hypnotizes you with a tale of two friends in school. Spare, simple, heart-warming, and most importantly, authentic.

“Your Hand In Mine” by Explosions In The Sky

Turn everything off when you listen to this. You are about to go on an eight-minute journey that is every bit as soulful and epic as a Hans Zimmer score. Do you remember when Frodo left Middle-Earth in The Lord of the Rings? I think this is the song that was playing as he sailed through the night, across the great ocean, under the stars, to the white shores of Valinor.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“He that would live in peace and at ease must not speak all he knows or all he sees.”
Benjamin Franklin

“Peace hath higher tests of manhood, than battle ever knew.”
John Greenleaf Whittier

“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.”
Leo Buscaglia

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For more songs and quotes to get you inspired, check out the rest of the Monday Meditations.

I’m Back

That’s right. Step aside, all you cheap imitators and ugly naysayers. Effective today, the official site for The Kingdom Trilogy is alive and posting. This time it will be on a consistent schedule. Several things have changed, so I’d like to give you a friendly heads-up.

First off, if you don’t already know, The Friday Review is dead. I will no longer post reviews on a regular basis. However, I can’t just sit back and devote all my time to The Kingdom: The Quest. If you have a book you’d like me to read and review, let me know. I’ll take anything except erotica.

There’s one other regular that I’ve cancelled. On Sundays, I used to post characters and countries from Arman’s world. This won’t be happening anymore. Most of the major ones have been covered already. I mean to put them all together, along with more information you haven’t seen before. More on this as we get closer to October 20.

Monday Meditations will still be here. For the uninitiated, this means that every Monday I try to inspire you. I post a few songs and a few quotes. They all have a certain theme, like apocalypses or angst. I select only the finest music and insights, all in the hope that when you hear and read them, you will feel a rush of creativity that will help you write 10,000 golden words in one day. Props to Jason McKinney for picking the name.

Every Wednesday I will have The Storyteller Reports. Previously, this was the name of a page where I told you about my old weekly features. Now it is the name of a new feature with two parts…

  • Rant of the Week. Here I rant about a recent development with books, movies, or anything else with a connection to storytelling. If it’s good news, I will sing praises. If it’s bad news, I will scream bloody murder.
  • Storyteller of the Week will highlight someone who tells stories, and does an amazing job at it. He/she might be famous, or deserves to be famous. Either way I’ll tell you who they are, where to find them, and why you should keep an eye on them.

Every Friday, I will be proud to present Notes Of A Storyteller. Every week I’ll share something I’ve learned writing The Kingdom: The Quest. I’ve learned a lot in four years. I want to share it with you. What good is a writer who keeps his secrets to himself?

That’s the new line-up, and I can’t wait to kick it off on Monday. If anything I post bores you, please warn me. I would hate to waste your well-earned time by posting drivel. I am at your command.

In other news, there’s a short story coming out September 15th. It’s called Die By The Sword; it’s about a freedom fighter who seeks revenge. On September 1st, I’m going to post all of the potential covers for it, and let you pick your favorite. More details on the 1st.

If you’re new here, I welcome you and bow at your feet. For those of you who’ve been here before, thanks for sticking with me. After four years of constant development, The Kingdom: The Quest is coming to Smashwords on October 20, 2011. It is my personal quest to make sure that you, the reader, enjoy every chapter, page and sentence of Arman’s harrowing journey.

Housekeeping

In my estimation, this blog is a mess. I’ve scrapped the Friday Review, and I’m not even posting on a regular schedule. I’m not even posting about things that relate directly to The Kingdom Trilogy; if that isn’t confusing, I don’t know what is. That’s an insult to you readers. You deserve something to rely on.

Therefore, I’m going to stop posting for a while and work out a new blog schedule. I leave tomorrow for my sophomore year at Benedictine College, so don’t be surprised if I don’t post again for a week or so. The first week of school is nothing short of chaos.

I do make a promise. When I return, I will have a new post schedule, and I will stick to it. And I will worker harder than ever to make sure that each and every one of those posts is worth reading. You guys are worth it.

If there’s anything you’d like to see on this blog, or anything you want improved, comment below. Tell me what you want. I just might be able to make it work.

10 Literary Works That Would Make Great 3-D Movies

With a big, fat fantasy novel to grapple with, it’s a relief to hear good news.

3-D movies are like golf. You get it or you don’t. I get it, and I am stoked to hear that they’re beginning to come into their own. The Wall Street Journal informs me that Martin Scorcese and Francis Ford Coppola are getting into it. Even better, my favorite American novel, The Great Gatsby is being made in 3-D. Many have howled with derision, but I am adamant that Baz Luhrman couldn’t have made a better choice. (Check out NYU Local’s take on that).

3-D isn’t about things popping out of the screen. It’s about lending visual depth to scenes; it’s the slow scenes that leave me entranced with it. The Great Gatsby‘s heart and soul are in slow scenes. I truly hope Baz makes them shine with this new tool.

Once I stopped geeking out about all this, I realized there’s a bunch of other stuff I’ve read that would make excellent films in 3-D. So in my arrogance and pride, I put them on this blog.

1. The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

This book immerses you into the characters and their setting. More than once, the murder at the center of the book doesn’t seem to be the point. 3-D will only help pull you into the little evils and frailties that make up the Karamazovs. Can you imagine Dmitri’s hysteric police interview, or a close-up as Ivan finally goes mad?

2. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

Everybody talks about the prologue, but it’s the first proper chapter of this book that is the reason Dickens’ classic is on this list. Jerry Cruncher riding through the mud to deliver a message. Most vivid scene I’ve ever read to this day. I’d love to see that with the depth of 3-D.

3. The Old Man And The Sea, by Ernest Hemingway

I really hope you’ve read this, because there is no way I can convey the weariness, humility, agony, determination and nobility of the Old Man. All I can say is that they need to wrinkle up Viggo Mortenson and put him in an epic hot with the waves crashing behind him. The Perfect Storm would look like Sea World in comparison.

4. The Violent Bear It Away, by Flannery O’Connor

This would be a downright scary movie even with the 3-D. Francis Tarwater sucking on his whiskey bottle, Rayber hearing that certain noise in the night and realizing the horrible truth… don’t even get me started on that crazed uncle.

5. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I’m not talking about the letter on Hester’s breast sticking out of the screen, you perverts. I was thinking of creepy shots of Chillingworth tormenting Dimmesdale, Pearl flitting through a meadow, and Hester alone in a dark forest. Not to mention the scaffolds, the rosebush, the bird with the broken wing… so many shots that 3-D would make unforgettable. You think Anne Hathaway could do Hester?

6. The Glass Menagerie, By Tennessee Williams

I started putting this down, and then a thought hit me out of nowhere. Have scenes from perspectives of different characters. All of Margaret’s are in 3-D, drawing us into her world. All the scenes with Tom and Momma are in 2-D, showing how practical/unimaginative they are. Maybe have Tom’s rant about the billiard parlor in 3-D, to show he has passions, too. I bet Christopher Nolan could rock this.

7. All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque

The horrors of war. Long before I saw Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down, I read this and was astounded by the mindless agony and boredom in war. The trenches, the camp, and Paul Baumer’s old room could haunt many more imaginations than my own, if shot correctly.

8. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad

Kurtz is the most compelling character who never shows up for 3/4s of the story. All those spooky, nightmarish things you see in that 3/4 of the story will only be more terrifying in 3-D. The dying slaves in the shadows. The lone student of Kurtz. And all the rest.

9. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, by unknown

Magic, feasts, and cool armor. Need I say more? This poem abounds in luscious descriptions of the heroes, and their costumes, and their awesome parties. 3-D could do so much to lend depth to the banquet halls, and the intimidating sight of the Green Knight himself.

10. The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

Come on. Picture Chanticleer the rooster striking a heroic pose in 3-D. It will make you laugh. And think of all those pilgrims, roaring with merriment in a medieval English pub. It’s enough to put a tear in the eye of this English undergrad.

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Did I miss something? Tell me what books you think would make a great 3-D treatment in the cinema. Even better, challenge me about the merits of using 3-D for storytelling at all. I’ll get back to you. I have my own story to work on.

Monday Meditations: Those Quiet Moments

It’s a Monday. Why should I exhaust you? You need to take a load off. Go ahead. Put an extra cushion on your couch. Pour something tasty in a tall cup, and make sure it’s nice and cold. If you are a writer, this is essential. Some of our greatest inspirations come when we slow down and take a long look at the world. Let’s see if any of this helps you.

SONGS OF THE WEEK…

“Together” by the Raconteurs

There are many times in my life when I fly into a rage for a silly reason. Something about this guitar soothes me like a mother’s kiss. And then the lyrics kick in and teach me something very important about life that I need to remember. I think it’ll help you, too.

“When I Go Down” by Relient K

Matt Thiessen is the most introspective songwriters I’ve ever heard. You just might identify with him on this slow-burning epic.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK…

“Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.”
Anton Chekhov

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
E. B. White

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
Robert Frost

Chelvia

Since he was a little boy, Arman had heard the name Chelvia: one of the many smaller countries who aren’t as prosperous as Gyrden. He didn’t think much of it. Neither did anyone else. Even as he set out on his quest, he didn’t do any planning for when he arrived there. All things considered, that was probably for the best.

Name: Chelvia

Location: East of Horoan

Role in The Quest: Not immense at first, until Arman comes there in dire need and finds some dangerous people to help him.

Chief Industries: Farming

Government: Monarchy

Ruler: King Oltin

Values: Strength and power

Banner: A green wildcat over a red background

History: Chelvia is one of the many countries striving to outdo each other in military prowess, harvest size, and favor with the Big Three nations: Gyrden, Horoan and Bolfuir. Chelvia has been a petty kingdom of varying size for as long as anyone can remember.

The Last Friday Review: Tarranau

Sad news, all. After this review, I’m not doing reviews every week. I’ve got to redirect all my time to The Kingdom: The Quest; it’s finally taking the shape I want, but there’s ways to go before it is worthy of you, my faithful readers. So from here my focus is there. However, if you’re an indie writer who would like me to read something, I’d be only too glad if I have time. I’ll take any genre except erotica.

I’ve been looking forward to this review. I first heard about James Tallett, like many other wonderful writers, on Twitter.  With a username like @thefourpartland I had to have a look at his stuff. His website is fascinating.

I had the chance at last to sit down with the first book set in his fantasy world. I’m happy to report that Tallett brings this fantasy world to life with a scope and detail that, put simply, blows me away.

The nations of this world all sound like places that could actually exist. Despite names like Bhreac Veryan and Tor Hauwcerton, their industries and governments and atmosphere are described so well, it makes me wonder if Tallett visited them himself, and didn’t just imagine them in his head.

There’s a delicious and ambitious conflict brewing between these nations. It echoes our own history so well that it’s scary. There’s strong element of sorcery involved there (and if I tell you any details I’ll spoil too much). I didn’t agree with the magic, personally. The rivalries of the countries are compelling enough. They didn’t need any dark hints of supernatural forces.

But this is the first part of the series. Let us see where Tallett takes that part of the story. Considering the ending of Tarranau, promising a wild quest, I’m excited to see that. In the meantime, let us look at some things that need work before that next part comes out.

Fascinating as Tallett’s world is, I had to be patient at times getting through the story. At times, very patient. Tallett throws so much detail on page that the pacing suffers greatly. He has a tendency to identify his character’s motivations or personalities, instead of showing them. He then proceeds to repeat them several times.

That political tension I was talking about doesn’t start until about halfway through the book. The first half is Tarranau fleeing his home and learning to be a good mage. There are several passages of him going through different days; eating, sleeping and waking up. They add nothing to the story.

Tallet’s writing style could also use some cleaning up. His dialogue is clumsy; he uses too many words, though you can tell he has a sense of rhythm. Instead of using a few well-chosen phrases to depict things, he will go on for a whole paragraph. The paragraphs are huge and intimidating; he should have made them shorter. His action scenes are told “play-by-play”. Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t depict an action scene.

This is all a pity, because the second half of this book has exicting things. Tarranau gets mistaken for a spy, and goes on the run with a man who saved his life. There’s bandits. There’s magic. There’s deserts. It’s a thrill, despite the clunky writing.

I don’t see how it ties with the first half. Tarranau is looking for work, but this doesn’t seem to be adequate for some reason. I can’t put my finger on it. There’s not enough urgency there. Maybe it’s a personal thing. I didn’t have much time to read this, so I may have missed something. I apologize deeply if I have.

What I am sure on, however, is that I will be keeping an eye on the Four Part Land Series. Tallett doesn’t get everything right, but I see potential in him. Tarranau is a diamond in the rough. See for yourself at Amazon, Kindle StoreSmashwords, or Tallett’s official site.