A Wish

So despite the fact that I wish for more time to read, more time to research my family history, and more time to play video games, I really wish I had more time to read.

And not just that, I wish I had the ability to read quicker. Did you know it took me a year to read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Well, I started it in July 2004 and finished it in July 2005. I stopped it around Thanksgiving 2004 though. So that may not count.

I’m such a slow reader that when I was within 100 pages of finishing Mistborn and The Sword of Shannara that I wouldn’t let anyone bother me so I could just finish those beasts. And I don’t know what happened.

The summers between my high school I used to read a Star Trek novel a day when I had nothing better to do. (Yes, I”m one of THOSE nerds.) But I’m so ADHD that I can’t even get through a four-page chapter without wanting to find something else to do.

And it’s not like I’m wasting time on crappy books. (Well, to be honest, I only know of a few that I can define that way.)

Let me show you how ADHD I am (perhaps it’s unable to commit to a book. Whatever.) Here is a list of books I’ve started and where I am on them.

Elana Johnson’s Possession: Somewhere in chapter 3
Brandon Sanderson’s The Well of Ascension: Chapter 6
Howard Tayler’s Shlock Mercenary: somewhere in January or February of its 2nd year
Randy Tayler’s Mugging Leprachauns is Totally Legal: 1/2 way done
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: the 2nd short story in there.
Stephanie Black’s Cold As Ice: Page 50-55
Jim C. Hines’ The Mermaid’s Madness: halfway through chapter 1 (who interrupted me there?)
Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule: Chapter 12 (or somewhere around there.)
Terry Brooks’ Isle Witch: About page 100
Tyler Whitesides’ The Janitors: Page 100

This doesn’t include the close to 50 or so library books I’ve checked out in the last 8 years that I only read a few chapters on before returning, plus the 2 Star Trek trilogy series that I’m on book 3 on and it’s been so long since I’ve read them that I have absolutely no idea what was going on. And I can add in the 20 or so books I started to read before 2004 and never finished. We could add the books throughout my elementary – high school life that I never completed. (But really, who doesn’t think they were all friggin’ boring? Does it matter what they were? You couldn’t read for fun?)

So yeah, my wish is that I can hold my interest in a book (honestly none of these that I haven’t completed are boring). Notice I said “I can hold my interest…”? I’m not blaming the books. I think they’re all well-written. I just have this problem with ADHD and looking at opportunity costs.

Well, what would your reading wish be? More of this blog, I’m sure. But besides that.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

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Book Review: Olivia by Julie Wright

I received a free copy of Olivia by Julie Wright to review. But in nowise does that affect my opinion of the book or my review of it.

First, this is definitely a book written for women. More than likely, I would not have picked it up…well…except to buy it for my wife. It also helped that it is written by Julie, who is awesome if you did not know. But honestly, I liked the book. I didn’t have to force myself to read it. I didn’t have to use toothpicks to keep my eyes open.

Second, I actually really liked the theme I found in Olivia, which (to me) was revolved around independence. Olivia is a woman who has seemingly done what everyone (especially her husband) wanted her to do. She didn’t ever do anything for herself. She didn’t stand up for herself.

The character had lost her mother years earlier and still grieved at the loss of a mother’s compassion. In my opinion, her problem was she hadn’t found a way to replace that loss with anything in her life other than mundane tasks that were fulfilling the needs of others’ but not fulfilling her own needs. I don’t really see anything wrong with doing what you can to help others. But I do see something the matter in not taking care of yourself.

Something that struck me as interesting was the relationship with her husband. At the onset of the book, it is already strained. But as much as I said “I don’t blame her”, in a way, I didn’t blame him either. It was nice to read something where the strain in the relationship wasn’t just the man’s fault (because you know, all men are pigs). And it was nice to see her realize how some things really were her fault.

Something I really enjoyed about Olivia is that it’s the first in the Newport Ladies Book Club and the invested reader will get the opportunity to see the lives of four different women. And I look forward to reading about Daisy, Paige, and Athena throughout the year.

And as always,

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

LTUE Review

Last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I spent about 24 hours at LTUE, which stands for Life, The Universe, and Everything. Wow….thankfully, I didn’t spend all 24 of those hours in a panel or presentation. Man, that would’ve killed me!

Of course, I did go to a few good panels, such as “Plot, Subplot, and Foreshadow” and “Feeling Fake”. I also got to hobnob with some of my awesome author friends. (You know you all like the word hobnob; it makes it sound like I was amongst the rich and famous.)

So…highlights to share?

I have a friend who smells everything (rather this than a friend who smells, trust me.)

Speaking of smells: No matter where you go, there will be people who haven’t showered that day/week/month/year. Sadly, they’re in higher concentrations at LTUE.

I noticed one author’s dislike for another is just as strong as ever.

I actually passed a handwritten note from one woman to another (made me feel like I was in high school for a moment.)

Parking in Belgium is much better than parking in Egypt, but not by much.

I met Bree Despain and promptly got her lost on our way to the conference. Thankfully, ran into a group of about 10 others that also got lost with us.

Brandon Sanderson is loud, but just as awesome and insightful as ever.

Robison Wells is alive and…well…he’s alive.

Also, I have the official job of fetching Rob’s drink for him. Yes, yes, mock the fanboy.

L.E. Modesitt knows so much about economics, he could talk about it for days on end.

Dan Wells mocks his younger brother.

Sarah Eden shouldn’t pay for LTUE since they keep asking her to be on a panel.

I impressed the “Newport Ladies Book Club” authors by carrying Julie Wright’s Olivia around with me…even read some while I ditched panels I wasn’t interested in.

Julie Wright, the only of the 4 authors for NLBC to have a sci-fi/fantasy related book and not be present at this sci-fi/fantasy related conference.

Also, Heather Moore, Annette Lyon, and Josi Kilpack each gave me insights into NLBC. I now know…well…not a whole lot, to be honest.

You want the weight of the dagger to be in the grip and for there to be curves around the sides. (I also learned I should’ve taken better notes in the first presentation I attended.)

Eating a small piece of chocolate when I’m already hungry will overdrive me into starving. (Personal pan pizza did not rescue me.)

I learned that no one seems to know how to introduce Jeff Savage–er–J. Scott Savage–er–Mr. Savage.

Sometimes it’s better to sit out of a panel and write/critique/read/socialize, than it is to actually attend one. (Okay, let’s admit, I already knew that from past experience.)

And I learned that the best panel I attended was the last one I attended. But sadly my laptop ran out of battery and I could only take notes for half of it.

Well, that’s been my review of LTUE. Until next time…

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Current Standings

So, I don’t know why, but I really like starting a blog post off with the word “so.” There’s something cliche and common about it that I really like. Nothing relevant to the rest of this post. I just thought I’d share that.

Writing update: I’m not worrying about word count in my new book, “Stilz”. I’m more worrying about getting the story written. Right now, I’m on chapter 3, feeling like I need an outline. I really do prefer “discovery writing” so I’ll probably outline it after I’ve written it or if I really do write myself into a corner. But for now, I’m gonna take my time on chapter 3 (mostly because that’s what I’m accidentally doing.)

This week marks the beginning of 2012’s writing conference season (to me anyway). I view LTUE as a great way to get my butt into gear when it comes to writing. I love going and hearing about different authors and their books and feel my jealousy determination to write rising.

As long as all goes as planned, I’ll get to go to LTUE for the 3rd year in a row. In 2010 I heard Dan Wells give a presentation on the 7 plot points. An informative thought process that has helped me in writing. (Maybe I should do that for this book and realize what I’m missing.) I also got to hear a live recording of Writing Excuses, which was beyond awesome.

Last year for LTUE, I was debating taking a sick day so I could go to all 3 days of. That was a huge hope for me. So imagine my joy when I woke up the first day of LTUE with a pretty high fever and saying things that made no sense. My wife and I argued about me going to LTUE, work, or staying home. I lost all arguments and stayed home. The next day, when I was supposed to be at LTUE, I instead read tweets about LTUE and watched movies on my couch attempting naps.

But I did get to attend the 3rd day of LTUE where I had difficulty sitting in classes because of this cold. I stood in the hall and talked with my awesome friend Taffy during the times I couldn’t sit through class. I did get to sit through 2 hours of Wrighting Excuses recordings. And got a tweet from Taffy that said something about me looking like I was still pretty unwell. Oh well. I made it to LTUE, that was the goal.

So, this year, as long as I can get all my work done that I need to do by Wednesday night before I go home, I can go to all 3 days of LTUE.

But, also, let me advertise something else, if you’re a Utah-resident author. Precision Editing Group is putting on a workshop the first Saturday in March. If you’re up for some critiquing from some awesome women, then I suggest going. I’ll attempt to be brave and bring my writing to get told that I’ve misused commas, used the wrong “their”, and wrote the most confusing sentence ever. (Okay, hopefully I didn’t use the wrong “they’re”. That’d be a heinous grammar crime if there ever was one.)

Until next time…

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Awesomesauce!

I know, you’re saying “Wow, T.J.’s posted a blog.” Amazing, right?

Actually, I have a goal to post once a week this year. So far, I’ve failed. But I’m starting now.

So, I’ve been using the term “awesomesauce” quite a bit over the past couple of years. The main reason for that is the awesome author Elana Johnson! She is made of awesomesauce, if you didn’t know.

Speaking of…well…anyway….here’s something random that Elana is letting me show you and then talk about. Prepare to see something awesome! Ready…okay…here it is:

 

 

 

 

Now, you’re probably thinking “What’s up with the new cover?” Really, I don’t know. Something about publishers and all that blah, blah, blah that I ignore until someone says “We’d like to offer to buy your book, print it, and sell it, and let you tell the whole friggin’ world about it in shameless self-promotions.”

Well, I was asked to give my opinion about the new cover. To be honest, I much preferred the sparkly white one that’s sitting in my bookcase at home yelling at me to be read. (At least my wife read it.) I think I would like this cover better if the color transition of the top half of the book was the only transition. But then the color gets darker and I just don’t like that pseudo-purple. Still, I love the trapped butterfly. Such symbolism in that picture.

But…guess what. I’m not done sharing pictures. Nope. Here’s another one to share from the awesome person known as Elana Johnson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, now we have this pretty green that turns into a sea-color. Kinda still like the concept if they’d just use the lighter colors. Just think the big transition is taking away from the hummingbird in a jar.

Now, here’s my OCD. Ready. I will probably buy book 2. But I’m not happy about it because it doesn’t match my book 1. I like my items to match (but rarely to have my family match outfits. That makes me want to die. I have limits to my OCD.)

Seriously, we own all 8 seasons of Charmed. For the 5th season on, CBS has their logo on the spine of the dvd box. Grr! So half the show has CBS, half doesn’t. Then we go to the dvds for the Harry Potter movies. 1 through 7.1 are all pretty identical. But they removed the picture from 7.2. It’s not there. There’s nothing. It looks so out of place now. And then there’s The Big Bang Theory. They couldn’t even be consistent from season 1 to season 2. Really? Come on people!

So, now I have the dilemma of rebuying book 1 of a book I still haven’t read, or let my OCD go turn me crazy. (Yeah, you’re probably thinking “Like it hasn’t already?”)

Well, I will one day read all of Poessession. I’ve read the first couple of chapters. ADHD took over and started a different book. That’s usually my problem. So until….squirrel!….sorry….until next time:

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

 

Welcome Back

I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. But this is something I miss a lot. The free flowing-ness of my random thoughts.

So….what have I been up to?

Really, work. And a lot of it. Work has been so busy and life has added its busy-ness that I have not had the time to blog or even write much.

I’m supposed to be doing NaNoWriMo….it’s more like NaNoFailMore. But, because of a friend of mine, I joined a critique group, with which I met last Friday. But instead of printing off the over-revised chapter 1 (which I probably would’ve done a ceremonial burning of the pages had I brought it instead of getting it critiqued), I brought chapter 6. Why? One simple thought: I know that the storyline from chapter 6 through the end of the book isn’t getting overhauled. Yeah, it was hard on my critique group and it took some explanation. Also, I was stupid and didn’t read through that chapter since I originally wrote it last year. So really, we’re talking a MAJOR rough draft. It was pretty embarrassing to be honest. But on the same token, it lit a fire under me. Time to revise. I’ve dreaded revising chapters 1-5 because of the major changes to those plot points. But now that I’m ignoring those, I’ve enjoyed moving forward.

Like Willie Wonka says “You can’t go backward. You’ve gotta go forward to go backward.” I’m gonna apply that to my book.

Also, I finished reading 2 books in the past month. That amazing? For me it really is. Oddly enough, they were by brothers.

First, I finished Variant by Robison Wells. It was nice to have a good fast read. And the book itself was really good. Also, if you haven’t bought it, I recommend it. It is a worthy read. If there were more books like this when I was a teenager, I would’ve read a lot more. And the twists and turns in this book were awesome. I really liked the plotting here.

Second, I finished I Don’t Want to Kill You by Dan Wells. And oh my gosh! I wanted to cry when I was done. I also finished it on a flight from Vegas to SLC. I think I should’ve been reading the Hunger Games, though, since the lady next to me was reading Catching Fire and the lady next to her was reading Mockingjay. Of course, I’ve already read it. Anyway….Dan Wells’ 3rd book is honestly my favorite of the trilogy. I really didn’t expect to like it so much. I loved I Am Not a Serial Killer and enjoyed Mr. Monster. But there was something about I Don’t Want to Kill You that was more awesome than either of the previous one. Like when…wait that spoils it….oh but when John…no wait……and then when….Dangit! It was really good.

Also, if you haven’t heard by now, in September, my wife and I found out we are expecting child #3. Seriously, this is scary. I already have one of each, so I don’t really mind if we have another boy or another girl. Half of me wants a girl. (If you can’t guess what the other half of me wants, then here’s your sign.)

If you’re doing NaNo, go you! I’m failing miserably at it. But I’m loving revising again. Like really loving it! I’m so excited to revise and bring a much better chapter 7 to critique group than that crappy chapter 6. Go me!

By the way,

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

A Late Interview

So, once upon a time, I had the ability to keep my blog updated with useful useless information. Somewhere along the line, I got really busy and don’t even know what day it is. Last year about this time, I saw that I only had four binders to last one a month for the rest of the year at work. I thought I should have about 7 or 8  until I realized it was September, not May. This year feels the same way.

A few weeks ago, the awesome Jeff Hirsch granted me an interview where he answered 15 questions in 3 categories that are probably miscategorized. But as my followers really know, I like being random, it’s more fun that way.

So, here’s my interview with Jeff Hirsch, author of the awesome, spectacular, high-on-my-to-read-list, ‘The Eleventh Plague‘.

A)    Who are you?

 

1. What is your favorite animal? 

I have simple tastes. I like scrappy short haired mutts and taciturn but secretly affectionate cats. If you’re talking wild animals, I do love a good giraffe. They look like they shouldn’t exist, but there they are.

2. If you were a superhero, what power would you want?

I want, more than anything, the superhuman ability to erase and restore portions of my memory at will. Why? With that power I could finish the first draft of a book then completely wipe it from my memory before reading it and starting the second draft. I don’t thinking there could possibly be a better rewriting tool than the ability to read your book the way a regular reader would.

3. What did you get a degree in, if any? What do you do for work? Does that relate to your book in any way?

BFA in Acting and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from UC San Diego. During the day I work at a non-profit in the ad industry. We do award shows,  educational programs and the like. I suppose spending my days in corporate America has taught me something about surviving an apocalyptic wasteland. 🙂

4. Are you left-handed or right-handed?

Righty.

5. It’s the zombie apocalypse: what office supply do you bring? Because it’s the only way to take them down. I have binder clips. Another friend has paperclips. Someone else is bringing staples. Duplicate supplies are welcome and will be necessary 😉 (yes, this is a joke question.)

You know those paper cutters that are little tables with a swing arm on the side that has a big sharp blade on it? That’s what I’m heading for. Remove that arm and you’ve got a perfect zombie cleaving machete.

B) Reading/Inspiration

 

1. Who are some of your favorite authors? books? movies? tv shows? Did any inspire you for 11th Plague?

Let’s see. Authors? Susan Cooper, Jeffrey Eugenides, Michael Chabon, Tim O’Brien to name just a small few. Books? The Dark is Rising. How I Live Now. The White Darkness. Feed. Lonesome Dove. The Stand. Tv Shows? Buffy. Homicide. Battlestar Galactica. Mad Men. Parks and Rec. Louie. Movies? Since theres way too many to even try to mention, my fallback position for favorite movie has always been and always will be The Outsiders.

As to inspiration for The Eleventh Plague, I thinkGary Paulsen’s Hatchet helped inspire the tone and focus of the book.

2. Music and food are important to gaining inspiration. What music do you listen to for inspiration? What food is your comfort food? Inspiring food?

Both those things are incredibly important to me, but I can’t say I use either as inspiration. However, when I’m really stuck on something I’m writing I have been known to retreat to the kitchen where I listen to The Clash and bake a pie. There’s something about doing that that really hits my mental reset button. Plus, afterwards there’s pie.

3. What are you currently reading? Perhaps recently reading? What are you looking forward to reading next?

Just finished Lev Grossman’s The Magician King, the sequel to The Magicians. Loved both but actually preferred the sequel. Looking forward to Sarah Darer Littman’s Want to Go Private and Jeffrey Eugenides’ new book.

4. You’re stranded on an island with 5 books of your choosing. What are those 5 books? (I’ll give you a sixth if you name The Eleventh Plague.)

Lonesome Dove

The Stand

The Lord of the Rings

Moby Dick (this way i might finally get around to reading it)

SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate on Land or at Sea

SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the WIld, in Any Climate, on Land or at Sea

 

5. You said in another interview you had a thought about a dad and son burying and grandpa and that The Eleventh Plague came from there. Where did you go next? Meaning, what did you do to get to the next part of the book?

 

I know this sounds overly simplistic but really I just tried to go through it step by step. It went something like this.  “Ok. They’re on a hill. The next thing they need to do is get down off the hill and get back on the trial. Except now Dad is thinking he doesn’t want to be on the trail anymore, but he doesn’t know how to tell his son that.” Once I had that I had an activity they needed to do (get down off the hill and get back on the trail) and the beginnings of an interpersonal conflict and an internal conflict.

 

C) Writing/Inspiring Thoughts:

 

1. What was your least favorite part of writing/publishing The Eleventh Plague? How did you get through that time?

 

Honestly the whole thing was amazingly smooth. My editors and the whole team at Scholastic are great. If anything was tough it was waiting for the book to get out there and to start hearing what people think of it.

 

2. What is one piece of advice that you wish you’d had before starting this whole ordeal of writing and publishing?

 

That it takes time to get to where you need to be to get published and that the timeline is different for everyone. Some people write their first book and hit a homerun, some people take years. Some of those nights of self doubt would have been alot easier if I knew I was more of the latter.

 

3. You’ve just won some prestigious award for The Eleventh Plague. What do you say in your acceptance speech?

 

Oh, I think it would just be a ridiculous amount of thanking people. My wife first and foremost but it’s really amazing how many people it took to make this whole thing happen.

 

4. Any new projects on the horizon? What about book signings or public speaking?

 

Yep, I’m working on the second draft of a novel call Magisterium that will be coming out Fall 2012 from Scholastic. It’s the story of a 15 year old girl named Glenn and her adventure in a world where the laws of the universe aren’t entirely consistent.

 

5. T.J.’s Triangle Self-Evaluation: There is only one wrong answer and multiple correct ones. Imagine, if you will, a triangle with the top point having the word “RANDOM” on it. The bottom left has the word “COOL” on it and the bottom right is “WEIRD”. Where do you put yourself in the triangle?

 

Hmm. I’d say somewhere between random and weird. Maybe closer to random since I never know what I’m going to be like on a day to day basis.

 

Back to me now: Well, guess all that’s left to be said is:

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.