Monthly Archives: November 2011

Monday Meditations: Being Classy

Be classy, everybody.

SONG OF THE WEEK

“It Was A Very Good Year” by Frank Sinatra

Let me revise. Be both classy and sentimental.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I like the word ‘indolence’. It makes my laziness seem classy.”
Bern Williams

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By the way, if you haven’t gotten a chance yet, you can enter until December 2nd to win The Quest (Part One of The Kingdom Trilogy), along with a couple other indie fantasy titles, over at J.C. Martin’s blog. Check it out.

Notes From A Storyteller: Death and Thanksgiving

In the sprawl and squalor of post-Thanksgiving suburbia, I ran into Death.

He had ran into me long before, but I didn’t know it. All through Thanksgiving, as I had gorged on turkey and cranberries, he had watched my every move. He knew every song I had blasted through my earbuds on Spotify, and every play I had made playing football with the guys. He knew me through and through.

I started thinking about him today. Yesterday, I could have died at any time, at any hour. Being a writer, that was something I couldn’t ignore. It was a notion one normally finds in storybooks, and here it was in the ordinary world I lived and walked in. I was sitting in a plush armchair when it came to me.

“I’m a writer,” I said to myself, “I haven’t written a line these past few days. Am I going to Death catch me off-guard? I want to get a few more paragraphs in before I go!”

Thus I found my way back to this blog, and back to you readers. It’s been a lazy week, hasn’t it? We get so swept up in Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and forget completely that we are mortal beings. Our days will end. The bear-trap is waiting just around the corner. How many of us have made their final gasp, just while you’ve been reading this blog post? Maybe if I walk out of my room right now, I’ll trip and fall down the stairs and break my neck.

If I do, I’m glad I wrote this first. I think that might be what I’m most thankful for this Thanksgiving, besides my family and friends. I’m thankful I got the chance to do a little more of what I enjoy before I cross over to the other side.

I don’t know what you believe about the other side. I don’t even know if you’re a writer. But whatever you are, you’re a human, and you know what you want. Will you have it before you die?

Want To Win The Quest?

J.C. Martin is throwing a wild e-book party on her blog. Giveaways galore! If you want to win The Quest (Part One of the Kingdom Trilogy) for free, go sign up!

Monday Meditations: The Power of Love

Love is a powerful thing. I defy you to find anything else that inspires a writer more.

SONG OF THE WEEK

“All I Ask Of You” from The Phantom of the Opera

Quite accidentally, this song wound up haunting my entire weekend. If you’re not careful, it might haunt you, too.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness; you flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. I drew in breath, and now I pant for you. I have tasted you; now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burn for your peace.”

St. Augustine of Hippo

Notes Of A Storyteller: Getting To Know Arman

For 3 years, I tried writing a story about somebody who I had never met.

Worse yet, I never understood him, nor did I take the time to understand him. I wrote The Kingdom: The Quest about a young man named Arman. He sets out to fight evil, like a few other people you could probably name. What makes him special, then? Is anything that sets him apart from Harry Potter or King Arthur? Why should you care about him? Why should I care about him?

As a teenage fanboy, I never asked those questions. I had a vague picture of Arman when I wrote, and it was as eye-catching as an Impressionist painting, but it was never as well-done. Blurs of motion, of heroic deeds and orc-slaying, caught my mind’s eye- not to mention all those passionate monologues and dramatic pauses that every hero needs to have. They all entranced me, but not enought o amke me delve deeper.

For three years I flitted on those fancies. At the end of my high school career I completed The Quest. It was the most vacuous and wordy assault on human intelligence I ever ever encountered.

Before long, I had to admit that I had added nothing original to the canon of literature. Arman wasn’t his own person. I was the man supposed to give him life, and I had given him no unique life. I didn’t know what he had for breakfast. I didn’t know what he liked to do with his spare time. If anyone had asked me about his weak spots, or what makes him angry, I would have been at a loss for words.

It took even longer to do someting about it, but The Kingdom Trilogy would not leave me alone. I had to return to it. When I did, I finally met Arman for the first time. He’s a timid young man. He has fire in him, and talent, but there’s a shell of uncertainty around it that must be broken before it bursts out. When he sets out to warn Upper Nola about the Nameless One, his quest slowly begins to chip away at this shield.

There’s his identity in a nutshell, however incomplete. Of course, my journey in understanding Arman has only begun. It probably won’t end until I die.

The Storyteller Reports: First Ladies and First Reporters

 

 

 

 

 

 

RANT OF THE WEEK: Could Historical Fiction Be Disrespectful?

News reached me yesterday about a new novel, and it gave me a chance to think about something.

It’s called Mrs. Nixon, a historical fiction about President Nixon’s wife. Slate’s Browbeat blog talked to a historian, Betty Boyd Caroli, about other First Ladies that could inspire some quality historical fiction. I’ll let them get into specifics.

What I want to speak of here is the nature of historical fiction itself. As a boy, I read the genre. I didn’t read much more or much less of it than any other genre, but I read it and I enjoyed it. Here, like in any good story, I found risk, adventure, and everything else that captivates a 5th-grader. I haven’t read as much of it since I got older, but after running into several indie authors who dabble in it, it is clear the appeal is just as strong for us grown-ups.

As a grown-up, and a history minor at Benedictine College, I have been confronted with the fact that history is no fairy-tale. This may or may not seem like a profound statement. If history truly happened, then the Holocaust should have the same impact on me as the remembrance of losing a relative to a car crash.

Well, it doesn’t. History still seems like a game to me at times. It seems detached from the world I live in right now, the world in which I’m typing this blog post. I think back to that historical fiction I read avidly as a child. It was thrilling stuff. So were the novels that claimed to have no ties to the world. What was the true difference? As a 5th-grade boy, there was none. I never took a moment to realize that there were event sin that historical fiction that had implications in my own world.

As a 5th-grader, that’s not as much of a problem. But it continues today. I struggle daily to realize that our history lectures truly are previous chapters in a story happening right here, right now. It is not merely a fascinating and entertaining study, but a gravely serious encounter with the story of humankind.

Considering all this, I must say that Mrs. Nixon sounds like a disrespectful idea. In fact, so does historical fiction in general, as an idea. Do we have the right to spice up these facts that form our heritage? Aren’t the facts compelling enough stories in and of themselves? Instead of embellishing what we already know, might we not set out instead to learn more, and to understand it?

STORYTELLER OF THE WEEK

It’s funny that we talk about historical fiction today. Our Storyteller of the Week also made a mark on history. This is Roger Casement, who forced the king of Belgium to his knees.

Casement was an Englishman whose eye was on the Belgian Congo. For years, King Leopold II of Belgium had run the place, and harvested an enviable amount of rubber. He trumpeted the coming of western civilization to the Congo. Apparently, the natives were being taught their manners, and virtues, and all sorts of wonderful things.

Whispers started to sneak around Europe that this wasn’t the case. Casement snuck into Africa to find the truth. He disguised himself as a deckhand on one of the steamboats, and saw everything that happened. The reality was brutal. The Belgians caused horrific violence on the natives to get their rubber.

Casement’s report in 1904 was a slap in King Leopold’s face. After Casement did more digging, it turned out that the king had taken money illegally to fund the operation in the first place. That was the end of that. The Belgian Parliament made sure the king’s authority over the Congo was ended.

That’s powerful storytelling, there. Give this man a salute.

 

Monday Meditations: Time

Time can be a source of deep sorrow or burning joy. I hope, at the least, it is a source of any emotion besides apathy. Writers of the world, think about that today.

SONG OF THE WEEK

“Sunrise, Sunset”

Where will you find a more poignant expression of time’s inevitable mark on a family?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”

T.S. Eliot