Books that inspire me

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Books. A seemingly simplistic word, that so many in our generations have come to overlook as archaic. Even my best friend, a man I consider a brother to me in soul, admits that he will probably never touch a book in recreation.

“Why read a book, when I can watch the movie if it is good enough to be made into one?”

He has said this to me on more than one occasion. And unfortunately this has creepingly become the accepted norm for books. But to me, this tiny little word means so much more. When I was younger books served as portals to other worlds that took me away from the bullying and teasing of other children as well as from the abuse of my own step-father. At the time, I saw them as a means of escape. Now, in retrospect, I can see them as so much more. They were an escape, to be sure, but now I see them as the entrances to something much grander. They inspired my mind and heart. They taught me that even the little guy like I used to be, could have more, could be more. They showed that there wasn’t always desperation and anguish, and they showed that even those tales could have happy endings.

I watched as children with nothing worth fighting for could become men and women that proved to the world that greatness comes in many forms. I watched as the mightiest heroes fell to evil only to become the greatest champions of the very causes they had so adamantly fought against. I’ve read and observed more tales and souls than I can recount.

But I remember my favorites. I remember the ones that inspired me the greatest. These are the tales that have inspired me to embrace my love for books and have given me the courage to forge my own tales, in life and on paper. Now I would like to share with you the list of books that paved the way for my love for writing. Enjoy.

Jamberry by Bruce Degen

This is the first book I ever remember reading. I remember sitting on my bed, as my mom held me and read this book to me, sometimes over and over. Then I grew up, and the book became lost to me along with the memory. Then, five years ago, I was working at Borders (resquiesce en pace) and I was putting a new batch of children’s books away, when I came across a board book edition of it. As soon as it slid out of the box I was unloading, into my hands, and I found myself staring at the cover into the jubilant faces of the young boy and his bear companion, I found a part of myself that I had lost. I found the young boy that I had been, hidden under a layer of years and a thicker layer of tortured memories from my time as a teen. That book now sits on my own son’s bookshelf and the spirit of that boy lives on in his eyes and forever in my heart.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

This is undeniably the beginning of my love for fantasy of all shapes and sorts. The tale that Le Guin wrote evoked so many emotions in me. It was the first book I remember reading where the protagonist leaves his family behind in order to seek his path in life. I’ve read that book no less than ten times now, but I remember every step and mistake that young Sparrowhawk made along the way, and I remember the fear he felt as he faced his mistakes and sought out his destiny. Given the rather diminuitive size of the book, Le Guin taught me that not all great stories need to be big, and that the value and depth of words is infinitely more important than the amount of them.

The Shannara Series by Terry Brooks

I’ve read this entire series up through the Heritage of Shannara Trilogy. Twice. Brooks taught me how rich and deep fantasy could be, without overloading you with clichés of wizards, heroes and villains. He wrote a series that, at its core was always about the magic of one world, but he showed this magic in powerful ways without having to show you over and over again. Each of his characters had their own depth and dynamic that allowed you to remember and differentiate each of them. Each had their own voice and personality. He also taught me the value of making a series that linked together, book by book. To this day, I remember each of the characters and the way each of them fought through their struggles in order to protect the varied lands and races of his series.

I could continue on about the hundreds of other books I’ve read, and about what each of them taught me, but the ones in this list, those are mine. Those are the keys to the soul of my writing, and why I must continue to write, even when I get frustrated with it and want to just give up. Those books, and the inspiration of their memories, are why I write. They inspire me to write something as half as good, all with the hope that I write something that makes at least one person feel the same way these books made and make me feel.

So. What about you? If you love writing as much as I, if you love books as much me, I implore you to tell me what books make you tick. I have many years left on this planet, and I can think of no better companions than books and lovers of books, so recommend me your favorite tales.

Cheers!

Writing Rebellion

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I’m back!!!  I know I’ve been gone for some time, I know you’ve all met me so drastically and I know, despite the fact that I’m blogging for the first time in a long time, I may disappear for a while again, but such is the way of my life these days.  I want to dedicate myself to one thing at a time but I’m nothing if not the perfect Gemini, bouncing around from project to project, book to book, game to game and wife to wife.  Just kidding about the wife! 😉

My hiatus has not been chocked full of procrastination like usual, but I haven’t had much time for much of anything.  I’ve got a new career, that is going swimmingly, but it is salary pay and therefore I work way more than I ever used to.  Then my time off is spent with my family and trying to find an hour of relaxation.

But always at the back of my mind was my muse, coaxing me, “Justin… Justin… let’s play…”.

But I have so many things that I want to do in my free time.  And all involve creativity and imagination.  Whether it involved playing a game, or working on an interesting character idea for the Skyrim Blog, or just reading the hundreds of books that I am currently in the middle of.  However, through all of that not once has writing been an outlet for my creativity.  I have been thinking of several different story themes and plot, still trying to find one that just clicked in my head and said, you need to write this, but writing has lost its original purpose for me.

For too long, writing has been changing from it’s original purpose of allowing me to create and express myself, and it has slowly evolved into something much more base.  It has become little more than a means for me to save my family from the mundane paycheck to paycheck that our lives have become.  For too long, I have pissed and moaned about not being able to give my family the life I never had, that it has allowed my mind and imagination to grow stagnant from resent.  My ideas lack their own sense of purpose.  For too long, my writing has been living and not-living for me.

It is time for a rebellion.

It is time that I start living for my writing.  I remember the first stories I ever started writing, and how I wrote them simply to tell tales.  I will get back to that.  I will write to write.  I will write to let my stories live, and I will work for them.

If any of you find yourself in the same place, then join me.  Join my rebellion.  Tell me how you rebel against the oppression that is life and the inhibitions it chains you with.  Or if you have broken through this stagnation before, give me your tips, challenge me to write something new.  I’m always up for writing a new short story, so challenge me.  Or just leave a comment or a like in support of my rebellion.  Let me know that my war does not go without notice!

Another submission or publish?

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Question time!

So, I told you all about my recent events with trying to get a short story published.  Well I’ve since submitted said short story to another online publication, who promptly got back to me with another, WAIT FOR IT…. No.

Once again, my hopes have been no less diminished than the first time a publisher said no.  However, I was thinking about the idea of not publishing it anywhere and not getting paid for it.  Rather, I was thinking about self publishing it somewhere, and then putting it on here as a free to download ebook!

It’s not that I don’t want to keep trying to get it published by somewhere, I just get bored with repetition, and I think that if I just do my own thing right off the bat, I will spare myself.

So, what do you guys think?  Ring in your answers!  Am I being too rash in my decision  or do you guys think it’s a good idea?  I’m trying to use this as a small step towards my ultimate goal, and as a possible means to getting feedback about the story.  Let me know!

Cheers!

My first turndown

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FROM THE ASHES…

The title says it all, folks.  I got my first no.  My first submitted short story got the big bupkiss.  I sat by and waited for ten months while they took their time getting to it, and as far as I know, all they did was read the first sentence before tossing it into the trash bin in their email folder.  And yet, I’m not daunted.

Could it be because I didn’t place the same amount of love into the story as I did my current novel, that I’ve been on again off again writing for three years now?  Maybe.  But I still put the same level of creativity and drive into it as I do all my stories.  No, I am not daunted because I understand the true level of my creativity, and if the publishers can’t see it yet, they will.

I WILL RISE

I have already risen from the ashes of my first failure, like the proverbial phoenix, and I have said, “I will fight on!  With my muse at my side, I will forge ahead and create amazing adventures and tales of terror!”

So, I ran a comb over it’s short body once again, grooming and caring for it once more, before I submitted it to another publication unit.  The turn around time on this is supposed to be much better, which will be great, but I won’t wait with baited breath.

I have been making fantastic progress on my current work in progress.  I keep pushing myself to write more and more each day that I have the opportunity, and with each day I see it rise along side of me, my partner phoenix!

UPDATE

Lastly, if you guys haven’t taken the time to check out my Prisoner of Death short story, you should do so!  The link up at the top has links to the whole story!  Let me know what you guys think!

Cheers!

Hate the day job…

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So, in case you’ve been watching, you would’ve noticed that I’ve been missing from the blog/social media scene for over a week now.  For anybody that doesn’t already know it, I’m the Flow Team Lead at my local Target.  I’m in charge of getting into the store at 4 AM every day in order to lead the team who receives our shipments and fills the sales floor with merchandise.

I only give you this information so that you can understand the predicament I was left with.  At my store, we take a truck, sometimes two if we have a food truck, every day.  Last week, the distribution center made a HUGE error, and didn’t send us a truck one day.  Therefore, on Friday and Saturday I had to come in at 2 AM, and had to beg and plead with my team to do the same, in order to stock two ridiculously huge trucks.  Needless to say, my last few days have  consisted of working, coming home and eating something, and then going promptly to sleep.  And I’m still tired.

So, thanks to this wonderful scenario, I haven’t written a single word on my blog or story, haven’t posted up the next two parts of Prisoner of Death for you guys and haven’t said more than a few RTs on Twitter.  Today, finally being my first day off in about almost a week, has finally given me this chance to catch up with you guys!

It’s been a downright shame for my story too, since I came up with a couple of excellent ideas for my plot.  Although, I wonder if I hadn’t been overtired and if I had been just writing with what I already had planned out, would I have come up with these ideas.  In this case, I guess I’d like to consider the last few stressful days as double edged swords.  Each blade biting deep into my fractured mind, but bringing forth wonderful new ideas to try as the blood runs from my soul.

Regardless, with any given luck I will get some writing done on my story this week and you might see me shoot out a few messed up opinions on Twitter.  Also, keep your eyes open for Prisoner of Death parts 1 and 2 coming out later today, and look for my next post on Raving Wild!

Cheers!

The ties that bind

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Firstly, I just wanted to thank everyone that gave me a like to my last post or started following me after reading it.  Last week was my biggest week for followers and that post had more likes than any other of my posts.  So, once again, thanks guys!!!  Now on to business!

Question:  What do David Foster Wallace, Rudyard Kipling and H.P. Lovecraft all have in common?

Answer:  My writing style!

So, there is this fantastic website, pointed out to me by Katharina Brendel over at Portable Magic, called I Write Like.  It’s an interesting site that takes a piece of your writing and analyzes the words and writing style in order to determine what writer you write like.  It’s incredibly cool, in my opinion.  So, I tried it out with four different pieces of writing and two came up as being like Wallace, one like Kipling and one like Lovecraft.  Funny thing, it was one of my fantasy pieces that was similar to Lovecraft, not the horror stories I’ve written! LOL!

Here is the interesting part though.  I have only ever read a handful of Lovecraft’s novels and have never taken the time to read Wallace or Kipling.  This made me pause.  It is possible that the site, using little more than its programming and a possible algorithm, merely makes intuitive suggestions based upon its findings.  But, being the melodramatic romantic that I am, I can’t take this answer in its simplicity.

What if it’s more than that?  What if there is something that truly binds each of us writers together?  Something that peers not into our minds and our writing style but into the very core of our soul, binding us together allowing us to understand and share in a collective knowledge?  Having never read much of the aforementioned writers, can there really be any more meaningful answer than this?  No, I believe this is would be the best possible dream that we could hope for.  I certainly don’t want to be known as the guy that just copies other writers style.  But that is where it gets good!

The sheer fact that my writing is considered similar to these other great writers, not just one writer but a handful of them, validates my theory more than anything else.  It’s easy to say, “He writes like someone, because he reads that person’s writing”, but I don’t.  Each of these writers made their own dots, and now I am one of a possible billion dots that connect them, and the other dots that connect these writers to other writers makes us one evolutionary tree of creation.

You may be asking yourself, “What is your point?”  Well, I lead this to something I’ve been thinking about lately.  I hear a lot of talk about indie writers versus conventional big publishing companies.  It’s not openly noticeable, and I’m sure that each of us would say that we respect other writers no matter what.  However, I can’t help but feel an underlying tension between the two.  As a man that plans on submitting his writing pieces to well known publishing companies, I can safely say that I fully support any writer, even if they decide to independently publish themselves.  But I worry that there is a line being drawn in the sand, dividing the my evolutionary tree of collective knowledge.

So, bringing this post full circle, I hope that each of keeps this simple thought in mind as you converse with other writers of various styles of writing and publishing: Though we may each have our own methods to our madness, we all share the same madness.

Lastly, I have a request for those of you that have made it this far in my “ramblings of a madman”, take the time to the website out, and let me know your findings.  I’m interested to know what kind of writers each of you shares a connection with!

Cheers!

(Edit: Changed the title because I’m an idiot! LOL!)

Sunshine Award!

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  1. WriteNow
  2. Pany
  3. Versatile Blogger Award (#4!) and Randomness « Maggie Madly Writing
  4. The Joy of Sunshine | Laura Stanfill
  5. valerie r lawson
  6. A. E. Welch
  7. T.L. Bodine: The Sunshine Award!
  8. My Writing Journey
  9. T.L. Bodine
  10. Life In A Notebook

See that list?  That is what one simple thing called “The Sunshine Award” started for me.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with what the award is, I’ll get into the details in a minute.  Suffice it to say, the big premise is it’s kind of like pay it forward.  But right now, I’m kind of flustered at what happened.

It actually started with the wonderful Whitney Carter giving me the award.  Thanks, Whitney!  I was one of five people that she passed it on to.  Then I realized that she was at least one of five people as well.  So, like Alice and the rabbit hole, I followed the trail down the line, following each of the blogs that I came across until I finally ended at Write Now, where I failed to find a post suggesting that they were given the award by another, or if they were the “patient zero”.  Regardless, this one simple award opened up a wonderful new set of blogs for me to follow!  And I might add that within a few minutes of my adventure, Write Now followed me!  Thanks!

And that is the story of my journey.  I’ve got to say that I just find it amazing that an act as simple as one writer saying that they appreciate another is really quite extraordinary!  So, to each of you that preceded me, I would just like to say thank you for taking part in the Sunshine Award!

So, back to the award itself.  The way it goes is that when someone passes the award onto you, you must link back to them with a big shout out, answer ten questions about yourself, and then pass it on to five more people.  So, let’s get this ball rolling, and I hope you enjoy the conversation I’m about to have with myself!

 Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

It was in the seventh grade.  I had always focused on art above all else, given my love to draw.  However, in English class, we were given the first creative writing project I can remember.  My teacher told us to go crazy and write about whatever we wanted, so long as it was a fictional piece and accounted for a certain set of words.  The story that I came up with was ridiculous to say the least, like watching a really low budget movie in your head.  But from that day, writing became a bigger part of my life, and though I continued to focus on art, I allowed that part of my imagination to really help me bring my art to life.

 What is the biggest influence on your writing?

Honestly, music.  Nothing gets my creative juices going more than a song that is ripe with passion.  Whether that passion stems from the singer’s determination or despair matters little, so long as they mean it, and I can truly feel it.

 Who are some authors that have had the biggest influence on your writing?

This could go on for a very long time if I gave you the whole list.  Truthfully, I find myself influenced by any author that writes anything that truly makes me, as a reader, feel.   I suppose, however, that the most basic list would certainly credit R.A. Salvatore, J.R.R. Tolkien, Margaret Weiss, Tracy Hickman, Terry Brooks, Patrick Rothfuss, Gene Wolfe and Brian Lee O’Malley.  See, even the short list is a baby monster!

What is the hardest part of writing?

Not making it too easy for my heroes.  I all too often find myself find myself answering questions and solving puzzles for them.  I feel, however, that the best way to really bring your characters to life, is to let them figure things out for themselves.  Forget your own knowledge, forget that you know what you want to  happen in the story, and just think as your own character.  This gives you the (Dungeons and Dragons nerd moment!) dungeon master versus hero scenario, which adds so much more excitement to whatever you are writing.

 What book are you reading now?

I am currently in the last few chapters of Gene Wolfe’s “Shadow and Claw.  I have been reading it on and off for sometime now.  It is a fantastic book, but I liken it to the richest brownie you can ever imagine.  Each page is like a bit that you have to give time to dissolve to truly appreciate.  The way he writes the story in the first person, leaves little to no doubt that you are within the very mind, if not the very soul, of the main character, Severian.

You’re really long-winded aren’t you?

Yes, but only about things that I really love.  Plus, I must say I love the sound of my own voice inside my head.  The way it’s cheeky, but not offensive.  I mean I could seriously listen to it all-

 What about hobbies?  What do  you love to do?

Disregarding the fact that you asked two questions, I’d say my two biggest hobbies would be video games and reading.  However, my favorite things to do would also encompass playing with my kids and spending time with my wife.

 You mentioned music before, as being a big influence on your writing, what are some of your favorite bands?

Top three bands would have to include Incubus, Linkin Park and the Cure.  But I’m also really big into bands like Attack Attack!, Panic at the Disco, She and Him, Emery, Portugal the Man, Leann Rimes and Deftones.  Again, it’s all about the passion.  If someone makes music with love, I’m all for it.

 Do you have time for two more questions?

Well, that’s one question, so I suppose, sure.

Let’s not count that one.

Too late, already did!

Okay, last question!  When you blog about your writing you haven’t talked about your heroes much.  What do you feel makes a person a hero.

This answer is simple.  In fact, I may just use this in one of my stories. 😉 But, anybody can give something when they have plenty to give.  It takes a hero, a true hero, to keep giving when he has nothing left to give.

 Wow, deep stuff.  Well, thank you for your time!

Okay, stop talking to yourself, it’s just getting creepy now…

Alright!  There are my ten questions!  Now, like a mighty king of yore, I bestow the Sunshine Award upon these blogs!

poetry, pics, prose and philosophy

Kellie See

Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Thrillers – Lawrence Pearce

AuTOMonous

A Speaking Human

Rise! Ye bloggers of awesomeness!