Listen to my latest short story "The Forest Trail"

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgeral | Book Review

The Great Gatsby was great. I didn't remember much from when I read it in high school back in the late 90s so I wasn't sure what to expect. I do remember liking it which stood out because most books we had to read in high school were terrible, and this is coming from someone how LOVES to read! While I agree with people that most of the characters aren't exactly likable, they are interesting and reading about them was fun. If you want to read a book with characters who have no redeeming qualities give Wuthering Heights a try, those characters make the people in the Great Gatsby seem kind of nice, at least they're usually civil. I love the beautiful symbolism in this book. I love Fitzgerald's prose. It is beautiful as well. It is easy for me to appreciate Fitzgerald's writing for how well it flows, and the great command he has over it. Many classic books are like this, but have extremely boring stories. Not this one. It moves at a pretty good pace. I usually have to plow through parts of classics because they contain big blocks of boring stuff but with Gatsby I felt like I was on a grand ride the whole time, soaring over the 20s with Nick the narrator as my pilot. I sat as he did looking over the scenery as we passed over it. There's a line where he describes pulling up to an apartment.

 “At 158th Street the cab stopped at one slice in a long white cake of apartment houses” (Fitzgerald, 32).

He didn't fill the sentence with tons of words and yet there's so much great stuff packed in there. What an image. Quite a different image from Gatsby's big house. I just loved that line - as was the case with most of the book. The only other book I've read by Fitzgerald is This Side of Paradise. While I was often admiring the writing, it's story meandered compared to Gatsby. Another reason this book was enjoyable to read is that there are so many great images in it that stick with you. Most books I've read can only conjure up a few images when I think back on them, but Gatsby is chalked full of them and they're wonderful ones. The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, the ash heaps, Gatsby's yellow car, his parties, his pool, that green light across the water, I could go on.

The last thing I'll say is that when reading The Great Gatsby I really got the sense of the environment, the writing did a good job of bringing me into the world of the roaring 20s. It all felt so grand bright and glittery, and at the same time grungy cheap and shallow. Shallow people surrounded by glamour. The book captures its time so well, which is why it's listed as one of the "Great American Novels." As far as classics go, this is one of my favorites.

Have you read The Great Gatsby? What did you think? Did you recently reread it like me because the movie directed by Baz Luhrmann has come out? I loved his take on Romeo+Juliet and of course The Moulin Rouge was amazing. Yes I own the soundtrack. I can't wait to see what he does with this great American novel. Are you going to see it? I think Leonardo DiCaprio will prove to be an amazing Gatsby. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dying Wish | Book Cover

Original Cover
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Updated Cover
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Trying A New Font


Back in 2011 in the month of November I wrote a 25,000 word novella during NaNoWriMo. It's a young adult fantasy adventure story. Here's a brief synopsis:

A young man is left alone after his father dies defending him from slave traders who came through their village. Now he must journey back to his father's homeland to fulfill a promise to bury his father among his family. Along the way he saves another boy from the slave traders, and becomes a man as he finds his way back to his father's homeland to meet his relatives for the first time.

As it lies on my google drive now it is a completed first draft. I plan on rereading it soon and seeing just what I've got now that it's had lots of time to cool. If it's good enough I think I'll revise it and then get it in the hands of beta readers and eventually publish the thing. That's had me thinking about the cover, and so I came up with this. What do you think? I'd love your feedback. Thanks!


UPDATE

I have since changed the name of my novella from "Dying Wish" to "Sword and Urn." I also made a completely new cover that fit the title better:

Pen Fights Gamepade | Episode 13


Download the .mp3
Website for the podcast: www.PenFightsGamepad.com

If you didn't know, I'm the co-host on a super fun podcast about being gamers, writers, artists, dads, movie goers and more. This episode was filled to the brim with laughs, and listening back as I edited it was hard because I was having trouble breathing I kept laughing so hard. Good times. Hope you enjoy.

Here's the all too brief show notes:
Donald Conrad of www.did-not-finish.com and Dan Absalonson of www.DanDanTheArtMan.com talk about video games, writing, being husbands with awesome wifes and fathers of many young children, what life is like as dads and lots of other stuff. Topics covered in this show: Donald is going to E3! Dan's a published author! Chewie with IBS, and lots of other stuff about games and movies.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Every Photo Tells Promo

I had the distinct privilege to create a promo for one of my favorite podcasts and websites, Every Photo Tells. Have a listen below and be sure to download it as well so you can put it in your podcast or a friend's podcast. Spread the word because Every Photo Tells is awesome! They've podcasts a few of my short stories and it's always been an amazing experience hearing them read my story. I highly recommend you give it a try! Listening to other people's stories is awesome as well! Loads of great stuff in lots of different genres!

Also, here is their post about it.

The NEW Every Photo Tells Promo!
Download the Promo

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk | Book Review




I've only ever heard great things about this book. I think it's cool that he wrote it on his lunch breaks, but for me, it was the same as the movie - I just didn't like it. I seem to be the minority on this one as everyone else seems to love it, but it just wasn't for me. It does some interesting things, and I can see how people find the twist cool and edgy and there's validity to the "that book is crazy" kind of comments, but I was just never engaged reading this book. I'm glad it was short or I wouldn't have finished it. I was often grossed out and baffled. I just didn't ever understand where the characters were coming from, and that's probably a big part of why this book didn't work for me. It is kind of a cool and original idea, but I'm not a fan. The whole book was kind of a long rambling essay about messed up stuff and ideologies that I completely disagree with. I've never really liked the mind trippy kind of stories though. A while back I read Alice in Wonderland because it's a classic and I like reading books I've heard about all my life. I hated that book. To me it was just a pointless ramble of random things. I didn't find it cool or trippy, just pointless. This book felt much more planned and purposeful in it's storytelling, but I was just not "getting it" - the whole time. If you liked the movie, which you probably did, you'll probably like the book. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

Have you read this book? Do you not "get" me and think it's an amazing novel? Sound off in the comments and tell me why, and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman | Book Review





This book had some very interesting ideas in it, but it was boring. Maybe it's just that I'm not as into hard science fiction like this if it is indeed hard SF. There was a lot of scientific jargon in this book that some readers may find delightful, just not me. I think the main reason I almost didn't finish it is that I could care less what happened to the main character. Nothing about him made me interested in him, or made me like him. He's just kind of a loser who accidentally discovered a time machine. I'd still say give it a try if it sounds like a book you'd really enjoy, it just wasn't for me - but I've read worse books for sure. Haldeman's writing style was kind of vanilla, which can be good if it is meant to be that way to get out of the way and just give you the story - but in this case for me the story was kind of slow and boring. Once I did get into the last third or fourth of the book it was a fairly fun ride through time, and did become much more interesting. It might have worked better if the protag met the girl earlier in his journey - that was when I started to like it. That's about all I have to say for this book. I gave it 2/5 stars because on Goodreads when you hover over the 2nd star it says "it was ok." That's how I feel, it wasn't terrible, it was ok. Still it has some pretty cool ideas and might be an good read for the more scientifically minded reader.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Have you read any of Haldeman's other works? I've heard his novel The Forever War is good, and he's won tons of awards for his novels. I think sometime down the road I'll try another one of his books, but maybe one that's more well known. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline | Book Review



Reading Ready Player One was like experiencing almost all of the best things in life. I say almost because there's nothing about being a dad in there, but there's a lot to offer. Reading the book was like playing all of my favorite video games, hanging out with close friends, falling in love, going on risky adventures, facing odds that seem impossible, and so much more. Did I mention the book is jam packed with classic 80s pop culture, especially having to do with video games? Yeah, as many dudes my age and a bit older I'm sure have said - it seems like this book was written for me. This book has stuff about just about every geeky thing I love. In an interview I heard Ernest Cline say something like: "I think this is the geekiest book ever written." This is the most fun I've ever had reading a book, and one of my favorite things to do in the entire world is read a book - so it was kind of amazing. I'm also a writer of fiction so I really appreciated the fantastic story told in this novel. I couldn't read this thing fast enough, and yet I wanted to savor every chapter and didn't want it to ever end. The characters were fleshed out so well they reached out of the page, or in may case out of my earphones, and into my head where they lived and breathed. I was rooting for them the whole time and was so excited for them when they went up against bad guys. There are so many cool adventures that are so awesome for so many reasons! Many of them are like quests in video games you have loved. If you're a gamer you will be putting down the controller and using your well practiced fast fingers to turn the pages instead of mashing buttons. This book was so many things, it's kind of hard to sum up all of them and say why the book was such a pleasure to read. The villain was excellent as well, a dude you just loved to hate. All of the characters were very believable and very much their own person that I felt I just happened to be reading about.

The author Ernest Cline with the Audiobook narrator Wil Wheaton.
I read this book by listening to the audiobook. It's how I do pretty much all of my reading because I have 2 hours of commuting a day, and I simply love audio books. Wil Wheaton is the narrator for this book, and he's the perfect man for the job. You can really tell that he's as excited as you and the characters are about all the cool stuff going on and cool retro gaming stuff you're geeking out about. You can tell it's a book that he absolutely loves, and his enthusiasm comes out so well and really makes the audio book a fantastic listen. If this audio book were a game, Wil Wheaton would get the high score as narrator.

One last thing that I think is easy to glance over because Ernest does it so well. The world of this book is at times so amorphous that I could imagine clearly writing what was going on would be immensely difficult. Cline pulls it off seamlessly. You have your character, who's usually in an artificial world, and then many times playing an old school game inside of that world, so you're reading about a character playing or sometimes being inside a game within a game. It's a bit Inception, but so much more fun.

And that's what I'd like to sum up this review with. This book is fun, ridiculously fun. It's also an amazing story. I wonder just how many times I'm going to be rereading this one. Probably as many times as Wade has read Anorak's Almanac.

Links:
Pick up the novel in paper, eBook, or audiobook on Amazon.
Check out the author Ernest Cline's awesome website that is retro game themed.
Check out all the awesomeness that is Wil Wheaton who narrated this book.

Thanks for stopping by and you're welcome. Now you know about READY PLAYER ONE.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Every Photo Tells eBooks Page

The fine folks over at Every Photo Tells now have a new page on their website entitled eBooks! Why is this exciting? For several reasons. One - their awesome stories are so great in audio, but for those who aren't big fans of audio fiction, now these wonderful stories can be shared with a new audience who prefer text. Not only do they now have a Volume 1 of the stories from their awesome podcast, but they listed other authors eBooks who've contributed to the podcast. I'm so grateful - they were kind and awesome enough to list my anthology, Danthology, on there! It contains several stories of mine that they accepted and published on their podcast and a bunch of my other short stories. They do an amazing job reading them. So go check out their new eBook, Every Photo Tells... Vol. 1, and their podcast because it's awesome. They have tons of cool stories in tons of genres. Here's the blurb for Volume 1 from their website:

‘Every Photo Tells… (Vol. 1)‘ is a short story anthology that sets out to show that every picture can tell more than just one story, by presenting a range of tales inspired by ten photographs. Mick and Katharina Bordet present their stories covering a wide range of themes and genres from the first ten months of EPT. Whether your taste is for horror or whodunnit, modern thriller or period swashbuckler, fantasy or sci-fi, there is sure to be something for you in this collection.