Listen to my latest short story "The Forest Trail"

 Download the .mp3

Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Cue Bull" is now Available in Text & Audio

The short story "Cue Bull" I wrote for the Every Photo Tells Podcast has been released! It is now available on their website in audio, and available in all eBook formats at Smashwords. I will also be adding the .mp3 to my podcast feed. They did an amazing job narrating this story so slide on some headphones and have yourself a listen. A big thanks to Mick & Katharina of Every Photo Tells for such an amazing reading of my story and for providing this outstanding avenue for writers to get inspiration to write and submit short stories.

Download the .mp3

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Viscount and the Witch by Michael J. Sullivan
BOOK REVIEW

I mentioned in an earlier post that Michael J. Sullivan had some short fiction available for free both in text an audio. Well I just finished the second one of them. I've listened to both short stories now and they're both awesome. This was an awesome story, but what surprised me was how great the humor was. I already knew I loved Michael's writing, but I'd forgotten how funny he is. The dialog and interaction between the characters had me cracking up the whole way through the story. I really enjoyed it. I've only read the first in the Riyria Revelations because so many other books are in my queue but now I'm pushing Michael's books to the top of my list. I have to read more of his stuff. He's a brilliant writer and I really like his characters.

Find it at Amazon

It's available for free but I would easily pay good money for this story. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Allred by Allred | Album Review


Every once in a long while you find an album that defines the way you feel in that time of your life. Usually it's a time of great change or reflection. For me it's a time of reflection with the possibility of big changes in the near future. It may not even be all the lyrics to the songs in the album but just the mood of the record. I've only had this happen to me a few times but when it does it's all you can listen to. I used to play music a lot. I've been in a couple bands and used to play every week at my church. I don't play music much these days, and I don't listen to it much either. Mostly I write instead of play, and listen to audiobooks instead of albums.

Right now it's Allred, a 2012 self titled album release I somehow just stumbled upon. It's the album I know I'll be listening to a lot over the next few days, weeks, or even months. It's a singer songwriter guy named John Allred I found way back in college when he was just some dude in a local band with a few really small albums not many people had heard. I found him on Myspace. Remember that website? It was THE social media website - everyone was on Myspace back then like they're on Facebook now.

Anyways the album is the self titled Allred. I've always loved John Allred's voice and his stripped down acoustic sound and in this album it really shines. There are some tracks with a full band but unlike in many previous albums the fuller sound doesn't make you wish he had chosen to go acoustic on the songs. They are less of a big barrage of sound with too many guitar things going on and more a unified sound that compliments his amazing intimate voice. He's not singing over the music on the tracks that have a full band in this album, but with the music. They nailed it on this album. An instant classic I'll cherish for years to come. I love this record. I can't wait to listen to it a billion times.


Listen to an acoustic version of the 6th track from the album:



Watch John play tons of popular songs all in one epic song Medley:

Book Memories 02 | A.F. Grappin
GUEST BLOG POST



Download the .mp3

I once actually had someone ask me if I was reading Dostoyevsky on purpose. 

While that's probably one of my favorite memories of reading, I pretty much just summed up the entire memory in that sentence, and that doesn't make for a very good blog post. I could go into more detail, like how I was reading The Brothers Karamazov in the hallway of the music building in college, when I should have been practicing, or like how my music theory professor once asked me why I wasn't majoring in English instead of music, and he's the one that suggested I read The Brothers Karamazov in the first place... yeah, those were good times. But they were some years ago, and honestly, I was a completely different character then.

Person. I meant person.

Books affected me differently then. Meaning... they didn't. Not really. While I did spend much more time reading words than music at the time, I really wasn't ready to truly read or appreciate books. Stories, yes. I could appreciate stories. I couldn't appreciate the books yet. At least, not on an emotional level. I had to go through a lot of crap first, a lot of emotional breakthroughs, and one really bad relationship.

But hey, that's what made me the way I am now. So, here I am a solid 5-7 years after the Dostoyevsky thing, and here's one of my favorite book memories.

This actually happened in late December 2013. After three years of being away from the stage, I'd been cast as the Prince in a heavily abridged, edgy cut of Romeo and Juliet. Community theatre, not for pay, that sort of thing. Fortunately, I'd performed the show before, pretty much the same cut, with the same director... and I was playing the same role I'd played four years ago. Not a huge role, and I actually remembered most of my lines. The Prince gives a lot of speeches, so I really didn't have a lot of onstage time. I'd go on, give my speech in the scene, and be done for 20 minutes, until my next scene/speech.

Well, as evidenced by the whole "not practicing in the music building" thing I mentioned earlier, I have a tendency to read when I'm supposed to be doing other things. Used to be, I'd have a book and some sort of pen light. Now, I've got my glorious kindle. It was easily hidden in my costume. I'm a terrible person, I know. Offstage after my scene, I'd already have the kindle whipped out and be reading. For the bulk of rehearsals and our performances (yes, I had the kindle with me during performances-- I know, horrible person), I was smack dab in the middle of Myke Cole's Shadow Ops trilogy. Specifically, much of this time, I was reading the second book, Fortress Frontier.

I don't know if I can honestly describe the emotional highs and lows the combination of Fortress Frontier and Romeo and Juliet put me through. One rehearsal in particular, about a week before opening night, I'm sitting in the wings, reading away. We've just gotten started, and I'm waiting for my first entrance, when I go on and yell at the Capulets and Montagues for fighting in Verona streets, tell them that if they keep fighting, they'll die, yada yada yada. My character was just ticked off for the entire show. I turn it off and on like a switch, pissed, not pissed. It's fun.

Well, this day was different, because I'd just read a passage in Fortress Frontier that made my jaw drop. I mean honest-to-God, my mouth was hanging open like a screen door on a muggy Wednesday afternoon in the deep South. Fly-catching, germ-spreading hanging open. I had not seen the return of this character coming. I thought he was dead. Sure, I'd had my doubts about his death, but I hadn't expected him to be alive, not really. So that jaw-drop was part, "I didn't see that coming" and part, "I KNEW IT!" Talk about an adrenaline rush, the euphoria of some amazing storytelling.

Then I heard my cue. I had to put the book-nerd away and turn into stage-nerd. Angrier than a bull getting hemorrhoids installed stage-nerd. I had to come on stage stomping and shouting my displeasure, when all I really wanted to do was tell the rest of the cast that [SPOILER ALERT- I'm not giving this away] was ALIVE!!! None of them would have known what I was talking about; even those other castmates that were big readers hadn't heard of Myke Cole (I have since evangelized at length to them). I didn't care. I was on a high of epic proportions... and now I had to use that energy to berate some of my best friends on stage.

This sort of moment happened TWO MORE TIMES, with the same book, during the same show. I tore through Fortress Frontier, finishing it during our third performance. I couldn't have planned it better, actually. You know that sort of low you get when you've finished a book, and you've already ridden the high of an amazing ending, then it hits you that it's over, and you're just in a slump until you pick up the sequel and/or find something else to immerse yourself in?

I finished Fortress Frontier about ten minutes before my big scene, when the Prince learns that Mercutio (his cousin, though in this production we made the character my sister (yes, played by a woman)) has been killed. The Prince is torn up at the loss of family, and I was torn up at finishing one of the best books I'd ever read. It seemed to fit. Couple that emptiness with the fact that it was my BEST FRIEND playing Mercutio, and that I was looking at her "dead", and... yeah. I sort of lost it. The actress who played Lady Capulet (who I've known for years and who has known me to not be the best at acting) told me I made her feel a little ashamed of herself for the Capulet/Montague feud. I was that affected, and it showed in my performance. 

Basically, here's what I'm saying: words are power, and words are powerful. I'd never really been one to get that emotionally invested in something I was reading, or even that I was writing. My mistake. Immerse yourself. Let it in. And then, more importantly, let it out.


Bio:

A. F. Grappin currently lives in Tennessee and writes in those spare moments of free time before and after the food-providing day job. Check out afgrappin.com for currently published works Empeddigo and The Trials of Hallac, and find A. F.'s blog, home to writing articles, book reviews, short fiction, and the serial novel Mere Acquaintances. You can hear a handful of short stories on the Every Photo Tells podcast.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Sword (Chiveis Trilogy) by Bryan M. Litfin | Book Review

I am a Christian, but I've always steered away from Christian fiction because frankly I'm afraid it will be terrible. I read for enjoyment, reading is easily one of my favorite things to do, but as a writer I also read to try and learn from great fiction. So when I choose my next book to read I choose something that sounds awesome or that I've heard from a trusted source is a great book. I usually read Sci-Fi or Fantasy and there are so many great books I've heard about that my "to-read" list is enormous. I wouldn't want to chance reading a crappy book which is what I've always assumed I would be doing if I tried reading Christian fiction. This book, however, proved me wrong - which I was thrilled about!

The story was really rich and full of excitement, deep character struggles, and an awesome story world. There's an evil witch, evil gods, and the Christian "God of the ancients" has been forgotten. It takes place in the future after much of humanity has been wiped out, so it's like reading a medieval fantasy story in many ways. Their technology has gone back to swords, axes, and spears for weaponry, and horses for transportation. There were many incredibly fight scenes in this book, and they wouldn't warrant a G rating. Yes this is a Christian book but it described the fights with the real brutality that would take place. They felt very real, not dumbed down for a sensitive Christian audience that's afraid of too much violence. It was awesome. It was refreshing because even though the story is a Christian one, it was very genuine. For someone used to reading Brandon Sanderson, David Farland, or Peter V. Brett - this book was right on par with the fantasy vibe I love.

Bryan M. Litfin
I really enjoyed the diction in this book. It gave the novel a fantasy feel and really helped me dive into the world. It was precise and descriptive. It was not quite as modern of prose as say a Brandon Sanderson fantasy novel, and yet was never a burden to read or a reason to be pulled out of the story. It read easily and the slightly different diction the author used seemed to make the very different world of Chiveis feel real. The way it ended, I'm definitely going to have to read the next book in the series. Litfin can only get better, and in this book I think he already did an amazing job. Loved the characters, loved the feel and tone, loved the diction, and especially the fight scenes. Two words: axe gun. Awesome stuff. 

Have you ever read any Christian fiction? Something you wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole? My friend and fellow writer Timothy C. Ward sent me a copy of The Priest's Graveyard and I've been meaning to read that one. It is a Christian novel by Ted Dekker and looks pretty good too. I'm a little more inclined to try more Christian fiction after reading The Sword, so thanks Mr. Litfin, and thank you for stopping by my blog.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sugar Detox by Tracy-Ann Hyman
A New Audiobook I Narrated is Live!


I was really excited when the contract to narrate the audiobook came in for Sugar Detox: The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Cleanse, Detox and Overcome Sugar Addictions Completely. For one, this was a book I auditioned for. Most of the books I've signed contracts to narrate have been when an author or rights holder has heard samples of my voice and asks me to audition for them. I've even been given a contract without having to audition from an author I had not worked with before. That is very flattering, but there's also something special about getting a narration gig from a book you auditioned for. 

Narrating audiobooks takes a surprising amount of time. Turning in 5 minutes of finished audio for an audition can easily mean 30 minutes of my time. There's editing, mastering, exporting, and uploading after the recording is complete. Many times I don't hear back on projects I audition for until they've chosen another narrator. Several weeks back I had a block of free time while everyone else in my house napped, we have many young children, so I recorded three auditions for three separate titles. I heard back from the rights holder to Sugar Detox a few days after submitting my audition and it made my day! It was an interesting book to narrate, and it's chalked full of great information. If you're even slightly interested in what sugar does to your body or why it might be a good idea for you to cut back on sugar, you'll really enjoy this book. I had a blast narrating and producing it. Go listen to the sample and if you like what you hear purchase it and support an indie author and narrator.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quality, Assured | I was quoted on the ACX Blog!

The latest blog post over at the ACX blog has a quote from me. It was pulled from a reply email I sent to an ACX Client Support employee. They found a tiny intake of breath at the very end of one of my chapter files. I usually have multiple chapters recorded into one audio file so to get them saved out individually I select them on the timeline and export the selected audio. Apparently I selected just a bit too far and caught just a sliver of the beginning of the next chapter. I always double check these things, and it was the first time that I've had audio returned to me from ACX for it needing something to be fixed, but I missed this tiny detail. It was easy to miss upon listening to it even when I knew it was there and yet ACX caught it before letting the audiobook go to retail. I really appreciated their thorough review of my files so I wrote what you see in the image above. Pretty cool to be quoted in a blog I look forward to reading! Thanks fro stopping by, and here's the link to the ACX blog post:

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Night It Rained Hell
A New Audiobook I Narrated and Produced is Live!

I had the privilege to narrate another book for Drac Von Stroller. This one is called "The Night it Rained Hell." It's a terrifying tale and once again is fleshed out with sound effects that really add to the dire environment the story takes place in. Head on over to Audible and have a listen to the sample. The text lent itself really well once again to a rich tapestry of sound effects including streets full of people going through some pretty terrible stuff. Support your indie author and narrator and pick up this title. You can find it at Audible, Amazon, and in iTunes. It's another very short one, but worth the small price you'll pay to hear a whole lot more than just my voice narrating the tale. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Memories 01 | Guest Post Series
An Example and a Call for Submissions


Download the .mp3

It has been quite a while, but the time has come again to reach out and ask others to share their memories with us. We've done Video Game Memories, TV Memories, and Movie Memories. What should we do this time around? Book memories of course! This is a blog about my journey of writing, narrating, and reviewing books I've read after all. I think it fits nicely. So here's what I want from you:

  • A guest blog post sharing memories of reading a book or books
    • 250 - 2,000 words
    • share the experience of reading not a book summary
  • A very brief bio
  • A picture of you (optional)
  • Links to any of your websites you'd like to promote

More details, or listen to or read my example and start writing:

Share your fond memories about reading a book or books. It should be more about the experience you had of reading the book. I'm not looking for book summaries or reviews here. To start things off I've posted my example below which you can also listen to. As far as word count goes, you can shoot for at least 250 words and maybe start to cap it off if your getting near 2,000 words but there are no hard and fast rules here. I'd say just write it down, let the words flow, and it will be the length it needs to be. If that's only a few paragraphs that's great! If you're like Justin MaCumber and the words spill out of you like water from a fountain then go ahead and push towards 2,000 words. That's cool too! I'm just looking for you to share your fondest memory or memories of reading books. Why you enjoyed it, or maybe the first time you really started to love reading. 

Thanks for contributing to this guest post series. It will be a lot of fun. I'll take care of recording, editing, and formatting the posts with photos before they go live here on my website. If you really want to record your guest post and you have a decent setup - go for it. Just read the contents of your guest post and I'll record an intro and outro for it. The last thing I need is a very brief bio, links to any of your websites you want to share, and if you're comfortable with it a picture of you to go next to your bio. It's not necessary but it adds a nice personal touch to the guest post. Thanks and here's my post to give you an idea of what I'm looking for:


The First Time I Read Past the Required Pages

by Dan Absalonson


Download the .mp3

I've always loved reading. In my teen years I could usually be found with a book and if there was a spare moment I'd whip it out and get to reading. Sitting in math class during our homework time I'd finish the assignment and pull a paperback from my backpack. I remember one time I was reading the massive door stopper The Eye of the World, the first in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, and when a classmate saw me pull it from my bag he was like,

"Woah! What the heck are you reading Dan? I didn't know they even make books that big. Why would anyone want to read something that long?"

It made me smile.

The story I want to share about though is about an experience I had reading an assigned book for school. The first amazing part about it is that I liked it in the first place. Not even someone who loves reading enjoys most of the books they force you to read for school. This time though, it was different. It was my freshman year of high school and our teacher assigned us to read The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Most of you have probably seen the movie, it's a classic, but if not there will be spoilers. I figured it's okay because as I wrote this the movie is 27 years old and the novel is 41 years old. I highly recommend both as they are awesome.

So we were assigned to read a certain amount of pages every night and we'd talk about what we read in class the next day. I think there may have been a quiz about the assigned reading, but what I do remember was what happened one night while I was reading the assigned pages. The main character, the awesome pirate captain sword fighting mans man who was coming for the girl and they were going to be together forever because they had true love, died. I stopped reading and said "What?!" out loud. I could not believe it. I read it again. This can't be right! There is just no way he can be dead! I kept reading until I got to the end of the assigned reading, but I couldn't stop. I had to find out if just somehow Westley, the Dread Pirate Roberts, Buttercup's beloved farm boy could still be alive later in the book. So I read on, my pupils pounding the printed pages. I stayed up late and I grew tired but I had to keep reading. I couldn't handle the truth. It had to be that the hero was still alive so he could save the girl from marrying a jerk. Their true love just had to win out in the end!

Finally my eyes flicked across words about Miracle Max making a resurrection pill which Fezzik and Inigo give to him and it worked. The tension fell from my shoulders. I could finally close the book for the night and get some sleep. It was an awesome experience to read beyond the assignment and stay up late because I had to know what happened next. Finding a book like that is rare, but in a book I was assigned to read for class? Shoot, I did not expect that. So of all the books I had to read for school The Princess Bride stands high above the rest. The most enjoyable, the funnest to read, and the best adventure. There were a few other books for school that I liked, admired, even enjoyed - but I loved reading The Princess Bride.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Writing Projects, Writing Goals

Right now I am working on many writing projects. As I look at the list and how I wish all of these projects were completed today, it makes me realize that I need to make some goals. Here's my list:
  • Finish the first draft of my forth fiction novel called Zombie Super Powers.
  • Finish the first draft of my fifth novel, my first attempt at non-fiction, called Fostering With Love.
  • Finish a short story called The Realm of Fire to submit to an anthology.
  • Do a third draft of a novella called Sword and Urn I've received feedback on from two people.
  • Finish a novella I started called Catching the Cat's Killer.
  • Finish a novel I started called The Meadowhill Ghost.
  • Finish a short story I started called The Ride Down Austin Road.
  • Write a short story for the current Every Photo Tells prompt.

I don't mind having several projects going at once, it's how I read too. Several books at a time. I've tried reading and writing one story at a time but I've come to realize that's just not how I work. That said, I am usually focused on reading or writing one book that I spend the most time on. 


Here's the thing though, I need to start writing way more. I don't have much free time. Much of my free time I use to record, edit, and produce audiobooks for other authors. This is something I love and am passionate about and want to grow in and eventually do even more of. I also want to be a writer. I love writing. I need to start doing it consistently. Currently I'll find a sliver of time and splash 500 to 1,000 words onto my screen at a time. I keep seeing authors say that you have to write everyday, even if it's a little. All those words add up. So I think I'm going to try and do this. I'll still be a binge writer, getting my biggest word count days in rare spurts, but in the mean time I'll just keep building those chapters a few paragraphs at a time.

I'll start small, and just try and really get the words down every day for a good 30 day stretch even if they're very few. 250 words. That's it. Just a few paragraphs. That's my daily goal, and blog posts don't count. I'm talking about writing in my novels and short stories. 250 words is nothing right? So I should easily be able to do this for 30 days. My hopes are that making myself hit that tiny goal will get me writing, and then I won't stop and I'll hit much bigger word counts each day. So on Thursday April 10, thirty days from now, I'll check back in and report on how it's gone and what's it's done to my word count. I'm excited.

What do you do to get the words down? What's your routine? Is it like mine where you just wait for your sparse free time to show up and then you feverishly pound out the words in a mad frenetic fury? Do you have a minimum word count you must hit every day or you can't sleep? Is it a weekly word count? What success have you had with your methods? Thanks for stopping by.



UPDATE

I wrote 600 words today. So far so good.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Invito Rex by Brand Gamblin | Book Review

I just finished this novel and I'm not entirely sure what I feel about the ending, because it is quite an ending, but I loved the book. Maybe as I write this review I'll discover my feelings on it. For now let's get to why I loved this novel. 

First off there are some really cool things in this book. Some really cool games that Brand invented, and an awesome automaton. Who would not like a game called Bear Polo, I mean that's just cool. Early on in the novel there is a very important game of bear polo that is played, and what happens in the game pushes the rest of the story forward. Yes, dudes riding on big majestic bears in a polo match. While I am talking about games, there is another really cool game in the book called Circus. It's kind of like chess but the board is circular with a checkered pattern radiating out from the center. I really enjoyed how Brand described the different game pieces, how they moved, and what they symbolized. It was some pretty witty stuff. There is actually a graphic of the board game which you can see below. Really cool stuff right?

Circus Board
Moving on. I really like the characters in this book, especially the main character Dizzy. He was very real and fleshed out brilliantly. His witty dialog often had me laughing as he diffused tense situations. It helped that I read this book by listening to the audio version over at Podiobooks.com. Brand did a wonderful job with the dialogue. He's not bad at accents either, and sometimes he drastically changes the pitch of his voice but it's never cheesy. He doesn't go high for girls, but rather low for certain characters. Brand has a good low grumble voice that works great for some characters.

Bear Polo Decal
As I think back on this novel, there was a lot of dialogue and it really brought the characters and story to life. Something just struck me, I don't usually like books with a lot of conversations but I loved this book and much of it was conversation. I'm struggling through The Way of Kings right now because there's just so much talking that I'm really bored - and I have loved all of Brandon Sanderson's other novels. Usually I get bored when a book is full of dialog but that's when nothing is happening. Huge info dumps where you learn about the story world but meanwhile the story isn't moving forward. The characters are just sitting there yammering on and on. Thankfully that's not what it was like in this book. A lot of great stuff happens, but as I'm thinking back on the story a lot of it was conversations and I loved every minute of it. They were conversations that moved the story forward. Maybe it's because they fit the story so well. The main character has been newly appointed as king and there is a lot he has to figure out. His interactions with the nobility and other characters was really fun to read and many times hilarious. Dizzy did not act in a way that he was expected to as king. Seeing him shock, surprise, and disturb the ways of the royal court and meetings was good fun. The other character I loved is the one you can see on the cover named Scepter. He's a crown, or a bracelet, or a robot, or any number of things. He is with the King at all times, recording everything and assisting the king.

I found myself wanting to talk in very proper grammar while listening to this book. All the stately noblemen Dizzy interacts with tends to rub off on you kind of like when you watch Downton Abbey.


Okay, about the ending. I will not spoil anything in this review, but I will say that I had to stop and reread the ending three times. It was something I was not expecting but it did make sense. They say that the big moment in a book should be surprising but seem inevitable as you look back on the story and everything leading up to it. In this way Brand did well writing the ending. He told me on Twitter that he's had violently mixed reviews. Now that I've read it I can see why. For me, it was pretty great the more I think of it and I will be thinking about the ending of this book for a long time - but it still ticked me off. The only way to know what I'm talking about is to read the book yourself. I highly recommend it. If you haven't read the book that comes before it, The Hidden Institute, I loved that one as well and you should read it first. As I post this Brand is about 70K words into the next book in the series so if the ending catches you in a bad way, let's see what he does with it in the next book. I'm really looking forward to it. He has a lot to explain :)



Links to Brand's work:

Noblesse Oblige Books in Text

Noblesse Oblige Books in Audio

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Airpocalypse
A New Audiobook I Narrated and Produced is Live!

Airpocalypse by Drac Von Stoller is now available! You can pick it up at Audible.com, Amazon.com, and over in iTunes. This is a very short audio book that I'm very proud of. The production was really fun on this one and it came out beautifully. It's one you're going to want to listen to in a quiet place with nice headphones on. There is a thick atmosphere to the audio of this book. It really creates a mood and makes you feel like you're there in the bleak environment. It's only $3.95 or $2.76 for Audible members so snatch it up and enjoy something fun and different in the world of audio books - and support two indie artists in the process. It would sound nice cranked up in your car or home stereo system as well. Thanks for stopping by!