Last night I got a phone call from Long & McQuade and it turned out I won a free Yamaha FG800 acoustic guitar!
Watch the vLog below to hear the story and get a good look at this beautiful instrument.
Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss the latest video.
Making vLogs was always part of my YouTube plan and today marks the release of the first one. More coming. Still deciding on vLogging frequency but don’t worry, I will keep you entertained in the meantime.
On a side note, the Holidays are right around the corner. Did you get something for that superhero and/or monster fan in your life? If not, please visit my Book and Comic Shop for last-minute reading purchases. Thanks.
As I’m getting back into the swing of creating things, I’m also in a place where I’m digging into the masters of the mediums I pursue to see what their thoughts are/were on a particular craft and how those views align or don’t align with my own (the latter approached with an open mind so I’m not closed off in my thinking). In the case of today’s blog entry, quotes on writing were the order of the day.
I’m a firm believer in always learning even if there are stumbles along the way. I also believe every artist regardless of their craft never arrive. Practicing a craft is a lifetime pursuit and ends when you die. Perfection will never be obtained because there is always one punctuation mark to adjust or one fine line on a drawing to tweak. The goal is to do your best while making every effort to improve along the way.
Here are three quotes on writing–more specifically reading–to ponder:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” – Stephen King
I am in agreement here, and by reading, Mr. King is talking about actual reading, not social media or simple headlines. Reading is part of the job.
And so . . .
“Read, read, read. Read everything–trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” – William Faulkner
This I’ve practiced since I started in this field. I believe that every piece of writing has at least one good sentence in it, or one good turn-of-phrase, or one lesson of some sort to learn. The ideal is to find all those things repeatedly in the same book, but at a minimum, every type of writing has at least one thing going for it that is worth learning from.
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” – Ray Bradbury
I chose this one because I was often criticized for living in Fantasyland. I’ll let this one speak to you in its own way. I know how it’s spoken to me.
Last, in regards to reading, this is a note to say the latest chapter of Gigantigator Death Machine was posted to Patreon today. Please go here to start reading this exciting and terrifying serial novel and its preceding chapters for just a buck. Thanks.
One of the main reasons people enjoy entertainment–whether that be books, comics, or movies–is because they say it provides them with an escape from everyday life. And let’s be honest: the world isn’t too pretty right now. In fact, if people needed an escape from reality, 2019 is a good year to hammer down on that.
It’s often claimed people don’t like to think when being entertained. They just want a break from life, be told a good story, and that is all.
Except . . . that doesn’t happen. Entertainment immerses you in life under the illusion of escape.
See, there is a reason that while we’re in the middle of being entertained we like what we’re watching/reading, why we have favorite books or movies. The reason is this: we can relate to the source of entertainment on some level, whether overtly or subtly. Whether a scene is plain-as-day relatable (someone at work getting a cup of coffee while talking to an intense co-worker) or something metaphorical even if just on a subconsciously-recognizable level (good guy fighting a bad guy, equating to us wrestling with our own issues), everything in a piece of entertainment is a reflection of real life, the very life we’re trying to escape from.
(Even something as whacky as watching a psychedelic cartoon is akin to us closing our eyes and watching the colors swirl by.)
You get my point.
There is no “escape” into entertainment. It might feel like it with your brain sending reward chemicals throughout your body and you’re muscles relaxing while you slouch in your recliner; you might even forget your problem(s) for a short time, but in actuality, you’ve simply just changed your perceived interaction with the world.
If anything, entertainment is an avenue that gives us the tools to deal with the world around us. How many times have you watched a movie or read a book and related to what’s going on, whether to a specific person or situation? How many times have you looked at how a character handled something and applied a similar or same idea or solution to your own life? How many times have you quoted memorable lines to yourself whether for encouragement, wisdom, or humor? How many times have characters reminded you of people you know thus creating a bridge between you and them, even bringing some understanding as to why your friend Joe does what he does? The combinations of these things are nearly endless.
Entertainment speaks to us on multiple levels and automatically puts us in a state of active or passive engagement. And it’s this engagement that immerses you in entertainment. Your brain is always working. It never shuts off. Even when you sleep, it’s working and showing you stuff and telling you stories.
As you’re being entertained, you’re processing what you’re reading or seeing and correlating it to what’s already in your head and the world around you to help you make sense of life. It’s impossible to escape into entertainment, that is, truly escape. Entertainment is simply another window through which to view the world. (Even fantastical worlds, which were created and written with some, even minute, connection to reality.)
All this isn’t meant to put a damper on entertainment value but rather add a new layer to it, a recognition of what’s really going on when we try to get away from planet Earth 2019.
It’s coming up soon, but beginning November 1, I will be switching over to broadcast mode for the winter. Pre-programmed content will still air on my social media channels. I’ll also be broadcasting from this blog and, of course, there is my weekly newsletter (which you should totally be reading).
In work news:
Progress is being made on the book front, with many titles waiting in the wings to go through the production process before getting into your hands. This was an experiment for me–writing books in bulk–and was a lot of fun. It also meant not releasing anything for a year, but still a good experiment nonetheless. What this means for output in the future, I don’t know. I do need to be releasing titles more frequently, however. This blog will also have details on each project as they come out. You’ll also learn the names of Secret Projects Nos. 1 and 2 (which are written).
Also upcoming is the Central Canada Comic Con from October 27 to 29 at the RBC Convention Centre here in Winnipeg. This is my last public appearance for the year and, possibly, well into next year or even until 2019. I have some plans and experiments I want to run, but I can’t do them if I’m committed to shows and signings. It just makes for too much work, and I’m not as spry as I used to be when I first started out in this business.
I’m looking forward to hunkering down for the winter. I’m looking forward to the quiet. I’m looking forward to working without other things buzzing in the back of my brain.
Like all writers, I’ve read countless books over the years. Some were awesome, some so-so, and even the ones that weren’t that great I still appreciated for the story even if the writing needed some work. Out of all those books, some have impacted me in different ways both personally and professionally.
Here is a list of 5 books in no particular order that have influenced my writing. I’ve stuck to fiction for this list instead of any writing how-to book.
1. Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind – an ultra long read, but worth every page. The dude knows how to paint pictures in your head with his words and, aside from Stone of Tears being a killer story, it was this word-painting that stuck with me and set the bar for how I paint pictures for the reader in my own work. Not saying I’m anywhere near Terry Goodkind’s caliber, but his great description definitely stuck with me over the years.
2. Batman: Knightfall by Dennis O’Neil – The first superhero fiction book I ever read and my favorite book of all time. (Yeah, I have a soft spot for superheroes, as you well know.) This book got me in Batman’s head in a way the comics didn’t, and humanized him in a way I could relate to on different levels. It also showed me superheroes didn’t have to be confined to four-color comics or to movies. Clearly, this influenced me later on when it came time to write The Axiom-man Saga.
3. The Summer I Died by Ryan C. Thomas – Easily the most brutal book I’ve ever read, and I don’t mean brutal as in bad. Not only is it an intense story–people kidnapped by a madman–but the violence level in this thing is through the roof. I loved reading it, and I hated reading it. Ryan made you live each terrifying and painful moment his characters went through. Like live-live. Crazy. But it showed me how to get nasty with violence when needed and how to draw the reader in when it came to someone getting hurt, and it reemphasized for me the importance of ensuring the reader is indeed in your characters’ shoes and not outside of them no matter what is happening.
4. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks – Such a bittersweet love story, and it was this book that demonstrated the difference between a romance book and a love story book. It was the love story between the characters that impacted me the most, not their romance, and nowadays when I write two characters in love, I play up the love story angle versus the romantic one. I did this in my book, April, written under the name Peter Fox. To me, love stories have so much more heart than romances.
5. Left Behind by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye – Aside from the entire series being an interesting story of the Earth’s last days before Christ’s return, the writing takeaway from this book–and the rest of the series–were the constant cliffhanger endings to each chapter. It was just non-stop, and since I’ve read them I’ve done my best to cliffhang each scene and each chapter in my own books. Even cliffhang the ending of book one of a series to get the reader pumped for book two. Cliffhangers keep those pages turning.
So there you have it. A quick list of 5 books that impacted me as a writer. There are more, but I’ll save those for another post.
What books have influenced you, whether personally or professionally? Sound off in the comments below.