Genesis of a Voracious Reader

If I had to pinpoint where my love of reading came from it would have to be because of my father. As a kid he’d read me bedtime stories like the typical fare: Jack and The Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, etc, mixed in with tales of Brer Rabbit and stories he’d made up on the spot.

Growing up I always saw him with his head in a book and this sparked my interest in reading. At first I raided his book collection, picking what I liked and then when I was in middle school I discovered the library and practically lived there.

I devoured the horror and science fiction sections until discovering the Mythology section and falling in love with it. Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and Norse I read about them all and couldn’t get enough.

When I stop to think about it now I completely skipped young adult books and dived right in to adult books. I guess I found them more interesting than the books for kids my age.

In high school I discovered a whole new world of stories online and would spend hours on end reading one after another. These stories let me know it was OK that I was attracted to other guys and that I wasn’t alone.

I was deathly shy and theses stories provided me a safe space to explore my budding sexuality and not feel like such a freak, but at the same time I couldn’t help but notice that the characters in these stories were all the same blond haired, blue eyed muscle bound guys who instantly found a lover on page one.

After awhile I grew tired of these stories that tread the same path and never finding protagonists like me, so I decided to try my hand at writing for the other geeky LGBTQ kids out there who were longing to see diverse character like them.

Review: Necromancer Awakening

Introduction
Necromancer Awakening is book one of the Mukhtaar Chronicles by Nat Russo and follows Nicolas Murray your av

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

erage Joe who was just about to graduate from college and was engaged to Kaitlin, the girl of his dreams, when he begins having strange dreams about a floating skull chasing him. The dreams get worse until on the day of his father’s funeral he is whisked away to another world where he must learn to become a necromancer if he hopes to survive and find his way back to his world.

Along the way Nicolas meets Mujahid Mukhtaar who takes him under his wing and teaches him about being a necromancer and the going ons of Erindor, the world he finds himself in.

The Good
Overall I really liked this book. The world building was phenomenal and was done in such a way that it made you want to know more as the story progressed. I loved how Nat Russo laid out the rules of necromancy and showed us how it worked via Nicolas and his thoughts and actions.

I also liked how Russo didn’t pull any punches and kept upping the ante so you never knew if Nicolas or the other characters would get out of the tough spots they found themselves in.

The bad
Overall besides a few mistakes with character names there isn’t much bad I have to say. Sure it was a bit cliched how it was revealed that Nicolas was really the son of Archmage Kagan and heir to the Obsidian Throne and was also the subject of a prophecy, but Russo handled these topics in such a way that it didn’t matter these tropes had been done before.

I also wasn’t a fan of how fast Nicolas mastered necromancy but Russo handled this well by having other characters like Lamil and Mujahid be better versed in the art than him.

The Verdict
Overall if you’re looking for a good fantasy read checkout this book. You won’t be disappointed.

Writing Update

Well this is a first for me but I figure some people will want to read this so here I go. This week hasn’t gone according to plan and I haven’t gotten much work done on the Phoenix Diaries, my science fiction/fantasy young adult trilogy.

I’m coming to the end of book two and I’ve been dragging my feet on completing it this last month or so. I’ve been trying to make more time to write but I keep putting it off because it just doesn’t feel right. Honestly I know I have to get it done and then worry about making it better in the rewrite.

Yeah I know it will take time to finish the trilogy and I have to keep motivated until I reach the end of this project. Sometimes I feel like I’ve taken on too much to handle with this project, but then I think about all the things I want to accomplish with this series and that’s what keeps me going.

Sure I could be spending time working on other projects, but I know in my heart I have to get this story on the page or I’ll go crazy.

Part of me is a little scared about spending so much time and energy on this trilogy only for it to fall flat. I know I can let my fears overcome me, or I can face them and write any ways, because that’s my job.

I know to temper my expectations because most books only sell a few hundred copies and most writers don’t make much from their work. Yeah it’s scary to think about what ifs but if I go down that path it’ll lead me to self doubt and depression, so instead I’m going to focus on writing the best series I can and worry about the outcome later.

Slow and Steady Writing Wins the Day

When it comes to writing sometimes you can be paralyzed by the fear of not being good enough to finish that story, or write that novel, but the truth is as long as you keep the end goal in sight and

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

move forward until you’re done then you will reach your goal.

Yes sometimes it may seem like you’ll never finish that work in progress, but it’s doable if you remember that by doing a bit everyday you’ll get to where you need to be in the end.

The truth is if you’re shooting for greatness you can’t fear failure because it will rob you of your energy and you’ll sabotage yourself. No you have to be fearless in the face of adversity. Embrace the challenge of writing in new genres and using different narrative devices.

Yes this may be difficult and you might fail at your first attempts, but don’t give up yet. It takes practice to get good at anything and writing is no different.

Sure people say they want to write a book, but not many of them actually follow through on it. The truth is writing a novel is a lot like running a marathon. You have to have to warm up first and then start small and work your way up to the big race.

Most people don’t realize it takes years of reading and honing the craft before you can produce a publishable book. Sure things like National Novel Writing Month are good practice, but once it’s over people often stop working on that novel because the incentive to do so has been removed.

The truth is you have to pace yourself so that you don’t get burnt out and quit when things get tough. You have to build up your writing stamina day by day, bit by bit so that when you come to the end you’ll look back and see how you got there.

Improvise Adapt Overcome

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

 

Introduction
Have you ever had one of those days when nothing goes right and you just want to crawl back in bed and forget the whole series of horrible events? Well this past weekend I had such a series of events.

First my charger for my laptop stopped working and I had to switch to the old charger, which is prone to fall out the charging port. And then right in the middle of me working on my WIP my laptop crashed and I lost everything I wrote up to that point.

I was beyond livid and wanted to tear my laptop apart, but that wouldn’t have solved anything in the long run. No instead I took a deep breath and calmed down. Sure I was still pissed but I picked myself back up and moved forward.

Perseverance is The Key
This experience has taught me patience and how to adapt on the fly when things don’t go as planned. Sure you could curl up in the fetal position and wallow in self pity, or you can get up and tackle your problems head on.

Sure in the moment you might feel like giving up, but don’t. When adversity strikes it’s a test of who we really are and can either break us or make us stronger. We can either face down the obstacles in our path or we can shy away from them and not live up to our full potential.

Conclusion
When rough times come or way sure we can ask for help from friends and family but ultimately it is up to us to get through the crises in our lives. And we do that by adapting to the situation around us and not giving up until we’re through it. Whether that be writing or getting in shape, you don’t stop until you’ve reached your goal.

Review: Chausiku : Nightmare of The Clans

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

Introduction

Chausiku: Nightmare of the Clans is Book one of the Chausiku series by Pamela E. Cash and centers around teenager Chausiku “Chassie” Moreau who develops supernatural abilities on her sixteenth birthday.

It is revealed that Chassie’s mother Adamma was a member of the sakombi clan who are one of six clans throughout the world that have supernatural abilities.
In her case Chassie has inherited telepathy telekinesis and the ability to disintegrate and reconstitute any object.

Chassie’s abilities make her the target of Rasul who is responsible for the death of her mother and has designs of controlling her due to a prophecy detailing her birth.

The Good
It was nice to see a protagonist who was a person of color for a change who wasn’t either a walking stereotype or being white washed. I liked that Chassie had flaws and I could relate her struggle to keep grounded given everything she had to go through.

The premise was interesting all be it done before in series like Avatar: The Last Air Bender and Naruto, but still enjoyable.

The Bad
Overall while I enjoyed the premise of this book it was executed poorly and the writing was sub par. This book could have used another round of editing before being published. Often times I found myself picking out typos and generally editing the book as I read, which broke immersion for me.

I also wasn’t a fan of how easily Chassie mastered her powers. Except for a scene at the beginning of the book she doesn’t struggle at all controlling her abilities.

In my opinion it should have taken her awhile to master her abilities instead in a matter of weeks she’s so powerful she can block Rasul’s ability to locate her, robbing the story of any tension.

I also wasn’t a fan of how Cash built up Rasul only to have the final confrontation between him and Chassie to be so onesided it was laughable and anticlimactic.

I also disliked how Chassie and John got together in the end of the story. Their romance added nothing to the story and could have been cut without losing a thing. Not only was it the cliched best friends who are secretly in love with each other trope there was no real chemistry between them and we’re just told they love each other.

The Verdict
Overall I’d say pass on this book.

 

A Matter of Perspective

image by Kerem Yucel via sxc.hu
image by Kerem Yucel via sxc.hu

Introduction
have you ever stopped and just looked at the world? Yes it’s full of evil people but there is also incredible good too. For the longest time I looked at the world as a horrible place because I just looked at the bad stuff and ignored the good.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that the world isn’t so black and white and that beauty can be found in the darkest of places because of the indomitable human spirit that tells us that while things are bad if we just dig down deep and find the will to carry on we’ll get through whatever obstacle is in our way.

We Are one
It’s so easy to divide people along identity politics, socioeconomic status and religion, but the truth is we more connected than we think. Everyone is just trying to make sense of this world the best they can and though we may disagree about how to go about things at our core we are all the same and we need to embrace that.

There are more similarities than differences that unite us but it has become the fashion to demonize those who disagree with us and set up echo chambers so no dissenting points of view can get through to these safe spaces.

The truth is being exposed to a wide range of opinions is good for us and a lively debate of our core values is healthy and ensures we aren’t living in a bubble.

Truth is Beauty, Beauty Truth
The world is a wondrous, constantly changing place that offers up an unending smorgasbord of facts and knowledge to all who are open to learning new things.

Yes while it may seem like progress is slow in actuality there are discoveries and breakthroughs happening all the time.

Conclusion
Sure if we focus on the bad in life that will be all we see but if we choose instead to look at all the good there is we will be infinitely happier. And though it may seem we are more divided than ever remember at our core we are the same and the indefatigable human spirit bonds us all.

Review: Dead Town

image by Gordan Jovic via sxc.hu
image by Gordan Jovic via sxc.hu

Introduction
Dead Town is the last book in Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein Series and picks up right where Lost Souls left off. All throughout Rainbow Falls bands of resistance to Victor’s Communitarians have begun fighting back thanks to KBOW radio getting the word out about Victor’s plan to wipe out the town. In this book several of the story lines converge as the end comes in sight.

Victor Leben alias Victor Immaculate is so self absorbed that his hubris leads to his ultimate end. Honestly his arrogance was even more than the original Victor’s and it was fun seeing his comeuppance at the end.

The Good
Overall I liked this book. It was trilling and held my interest throughout the story and there were several oh shit moments when characters were put in danger by the nearly unstoppable Builders.

At first I wasn’t a fan of the subplots but Koontz tied them together in such a way that it ad you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what would happen next. I was especially surprised with the resolution of Nummy O’Bannon and Mr. Lyss’s story line. Also I liked how you didn’t know until the end who would win.

The Bad
While I liked this book I did have my issues with it. Overall there were too many happy coincidences that led to characters getting out of tough spots with the Builders, by them malfunctioning for unspecified reasons or just plain dumb luck.

I also wasn’t a fan of Victor in this book. He was an almost nonentity and posed zero threat to anyone unlike the original Victor who didn’t mind getting his hands dirty when the situation called for it.

Instead of keeping abreast of the goings on of his war Victor was content with walking the corridors of the Hive and this ultimately led to his downfall.

I also wasn’t a fan of the final confrontation between him and Deucalion. It was down right hokey and made zero sense and was rather anticlimactic. Without spoiling the ending lets just say it was too happily ever after for my taste and leave it at that.

The Verdict
Overall this was an enjoyable read though for the reasons stated above it could have been better and I can’t help feeling the series should have ended with book three as every book after that, while enjoyable just didn’t live up to the previous books in terms of plot.

Overall I’d give the series a 3.5/5 and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys sci-fi thrillers full of action.

How to Find Time to Write in a Busy Life

image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu
image by Stancu Alexandru via sxc.hu

Introduction
Between work, kids, running errands and other obstacles thrown our way it can be difficult to find the time to write, but if we’re serious about the craft there will always be time to write.

Pick a Time and Stick with it
This may be the hardest part because it requires you to find the time when you’re most creative and it can take a few tries before you discover the right time. For me the best time to write is first thing when I get.

For you it may be in the early hours of the morning before everyone is up or right before you go to bed. Once you discover it try to write every day at this time to build a habit.

Once you’ve committed to writing at a given time don’t stop until you’ve reached your goal for the day and then try to do a little better the next day.

Yes it can be frustrating at first when nothing comes to mind but if you persevere and come to the task with an open mind you’ll find the right words.

It Takes Less Time Than You Think to Write a Book
You need to salve away at the computer all day to complete your work in progress. Believe it or not you can get a lot done in five or ten minute sprints. If you find yourself with a little break just set a timer and write until it goes off. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in such a short time.

Sure it may not seem like much at first but over time the words will add up and before you know it you’ll have a complete manuscript.

Honor the Time and Space You’re in
When you write do so with all your heart and soul. Turn off your phone disable the internet and turn off the TV so it’s just you and the page. Yeah this can be scary at first when you’re focused on the task at hand it will make you more aware of what you’re attempting to do. If you absolutely need some white noise in the background turn on your favorite music and get to work.

Conclusion
Yes it can sometimes be daunting to find the time to write but if you care about the craft and are determined to get your WIP finished you’ll find the time you need to do it.

Review: Lost Souls

Introduction
Lost Souls is the fourth book in

image by Gordan Jovic via sxc.hu
image by Gordan Jovic via sxc.hu

Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein series and takes places two years after Dead and Alive. Unaware of the existence of Victor’s clone Carson and Michael married, moved to San Francisco and had a daughter named Scout.

They work as private investigators and had forgotten all about Victor Frankenstein until Deucalion has a hunch that Victor is still alive and seeks them out to finish what they started in New Orleans.

Now that they are parents Michael and Carson are reluctant to help him until he convinces them to join him.

In the two years since Victor’s clone was released he has taken the name Victor Leben , alias Victor Immaculate, and set up shop in the small town of Rainbow Falls, Montana where he plans to take over the town and use it as a strong hold for his larger campaign of wiping out all humans.

The Good
This time around Victor’s goal is more brutal than just enslaving all of human via his creations and really drives home how demented he is for his omnicidal mission. I also liked the introduction of the nano brain probe that rendered people completely docile and also the introduction of builders who are every bit as scary as they are beautiful.

I was surprised to see Erika Five, who has taken the last name Swedenborg, and Jocko make appearances in this book, but overall they are a welcome addition to the cast of characters.

The Bad
While I liked this book overall I did have issues with it. First after the events of Dead and Alive I couldn’t help feeling this book was a little on the anticlimactic side. Also I wasn’t a big fan of Nummy and Mr. Lyss’s story line at all. It could have been omitted entirely and you wouldn’t notice it.

I get that Nummy is supposed to extremely mentally challenged but he was just too dumb to live and I felt myself sympathizing with Mr. Lyss over his frustrations with Nummy.

Second, I didn’t particularly think the addition of Agent Frost and Dagget from the FBI added anything to the story line except for filling pages. Sure they know something isn’t right in Rainbow Falls but they have zero clue as to the true nature of the problem and are more likely to hinder Carson and Michael than to help them.

The Verdict
Overall if you’ve like the series so far then checkout this one.