Busy, busy, busy

Sadly, I have not been as diligent on my blog as I really should be.  Much has been happening, nearly all of it beyond the reasonable scope of a blog entry.  Needless to say, moving half-way across the United States during the holidays is not recommended.

I am continuing work on my stories and hope to someday be able to release the second book of The War-Weary Saga (The Broken Pack).  At this point, I’m behind, but I have no one to blame but my procrastination.  I’ll endeavor to do better.

2016 is off and running and so far, has been pretty good.  Hectic, but good.

On Poetry

I am a big fan of poetry.  Seriously, I just love it.  It all started when I was in first grade.  Yes, I fell in love with poetry when I was six.

In my first grade class, when my teacher would be out we had a regular substitute teacher.  Her name is lost to time for me, but her legacy will live forever.

Substitute teaching a class of six-year-olds must be one of the most difficult tasks one can undertake.  But this substitute had it sorted.  So long as we were good, kept the chaos to a minimum and listened, for the last half-hour of the day, she would read to us from Shel Silverstein.  Make no doubt, I love Mr. Silverstein’s works – and will be passing this affection down to my children.  But, the first time I heard her read about Being Eaten By a Boa-constrictor, I was set.

Mr. Silverstein’s works were silly and irreverent.  They made my six-year-old mind think.  How would Captain Hook pick his nose?

So I think I’m going to start putting some of my own poetry up here on the blog.  Keep an eye out under the “Sundry Stories and Such” link.

 

–CL

 

Christmas….traditions.

So it’s Christmas.  I know that my ambivalence towards this highest of the high Capitalist holidays makes me somewhat odd, but turns out I don’t care.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the love-fest that is Christmas.  Everyone calls everyone and wishes them well.  That I can get behind.  And I love all the crazy traditions people have.  My family is no different.

Allow me to paint you a scene from one our better Christmases.

When I was growing up, the tradition was, me, and my two brothers would be told the night before Christmas day what the earliest time we were allowed to wake the house.  Usually, it was six in the morning.  Which meant we were up at about four.  We would, stealthy as the three stooges, sneak downstairs in hopes of calming the roiling tumult of crazy, only to find that we – by “sneaking” downstairs had just poured gasoline on a bonfire.

So there’s my brothers and me, having sneakily snuck downstairs to look at the extraordinary proof of Santa’s existence, now trapped downstairs.  Because we all know that a) we cannot return to our beds because if we try to we are just going to be counting seconds as if they are hours and; even worse, b) we cannot stay in the living room (where the tree was) because we are having a lot of issues at the moment with our individual self-control.

Eventually, five in the morning would come around and my dad, no doubt already awake and very aware of our capering, would wake our mother and then he would come downstairs.  Normally, Dad’s a pretty stoic guy.  Don’t get me wrong, my Dad is awesome.  Super-reliable and just filled with wisdom and knowledge, and always ready to help.  Just a great all-around Dad.  He would come downstairs and in the glory of Christmas tree lights, he would be smiling like a loon.  He would match our enthusiasm seemingly with child-like glee.  He would tell us to wait for mom to wake up, and would go to make his morning coffee.

His coming downstairs was the signal to my brothers and me that our non-silence could stop.  The house would explode into noise.  Three boys wishing their father Merry Christmas – exuberantly.  Dad, enthusiastically returning the happy greeting.  About ten minutes later, Dad is sipping his coffee while keeping an eye on all three of his sons, Mom would come downstairs.

My mom is great.  Awesome cook.  Great hugs.  Stern but not too much.  And trust me, she ran (and still does) the home.  She would show up and the noise of Christmas would renew as if somehow her presence meant that Christmas had well and truly arrived.

Eventually, presents opened, pictures were taken and all the usual chaos of the holiday would be past.  Dad would grab a couple trashbags and would begin overseeing the cleanup, mom would start making breakfast.  Usually, this happened around seven, seven-thirty.

Then came the tradition.  Now my family will likely not recognize this as a “true” family tradition, but it exists nonetheless.  I imagine it exists in nearly every home on this day.

I am the oldest, so I usually had much more staying power for the energy requirements of a child at Christmas.  But by nine in the morning, all the toys and games having been ogled, my brothers and I would crash.  It took me a few years to really realize this, but the whole house would just kind of pause for an hour or three, mid-morning, for a post-Christmas-morning nap.  There’s the tradition, a nap.  One of my favorite parts of the day.

Now don’t get me wrong, we have many traditions in my family.  Some are more embarrassing than others, but the post-present nap is one of my favorites.

Now, my wife and I are making all new traditions.  Watching Doctor Who and eating sushi.  Plus with our new little one – Spudford (obviously not a real name) – new traditions will be coming.  Because, let’s face it, Christmas is awesome, but it truly shows itself in the exuberance of children.

Merry Christmas all!  Now I’m off for a nap.  It’s weird how I still want a nap right around nine in the morning on Christmas day…..

 

–CL

Review: The Mapkeeper and the Rise of the Wardens

The Mapkeeper and the Rise of the Wardens is the first published work of the new author, Katie Cash, and is the first book of the Mapkeeper series. The book would be appropriate for younger audiences, but there may be some parts that are a bit too graphic. The story is essentially the classical monomyth. There’s nothing wrong with the monomyth – or Hero’s Journey – it is classic, very sound, storytelling, and it works.

In a complex double-world story, Ms. Cash has managed to tell an interesting story. Lucy Barnes is from one world, living in the small town of Algid, under an oppressive – and shady – government called the Commune. Shivers at that name. Living an ordinary, mundane life, Lucy is selected to be the Mapkeeper. Ms. Barnes, through the magical artifact (the map), can transport between her world and the fantastical world of Praxis. Praxis has many different sentient species including trolls, centaurs, and kobolds.

The world of Praxis finds itself on the brink of trouble, not that her world filled with the Commune is much better. Lucy and her brothers are transported – via the still yet to be understood map – to Praxis and greeted as honored guests. Upon arrival, the trio is introduced to the king of Praxis and all the leaders of the clans of Praxis. The looming dread of the story is the presence of the Wardens. The Wardens are responsible for having created the map but are also responsible for nearly killing all of the non-human creatures of Praxis years ago.  The story has many complex characters and a small romantic subplot.

The story is sound if a bit rushed. There are some minor issues with editing, but those are pretty common in such works, therefore, forgivable. There are a few issues with spans of time in the book, namely when dealing with recovery times. Again, these issues are mainly minor and very easily overlooked. Towards the end of the story, a great deal of the story is apparently dealt with, leading the reader to feel that there may have been too much going on, this leads to the story feeling rushed.

Here’s the final verdict:

Grade: B-

Good: Interesting world, decent sense of foreboding and dread in both Algid and Praxis. The map is an interesting artifact, and how it functions is unique. The cover art is excellent.

Bad: The story does have some places that are a bit rougher than others. There are minor issues with miscellaneous world-related items. The pacing can be jarring.

Final Statement: All-in-all, a decent first book. I am confident that Ms. Cash will continue to hone her writing skill over the subsequent books.

Review: Red Seas Under Red Skies

After reading the first book of Scott Lynch’s The Gentleman Bastard SequenceThe Lies of Locke Lamora, I picked up the second book: Red Seas Under Red Skies.  

I am thoroughly enjoying this series.   The first book was excellent, and the second shows that there is a lot more going on in the world.

Red Seas Under Red Skies revolves around our two principle characters: Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen.  Thieves by trade.  The two of them have left Camorr (after the events of The Lies of Locke Lamora) and found themselves in Tal Verrar – ready to run a heist against a massive casino called the Sin Spire.  I love that name.  Honestly, someone in Las Vegas should totally name a casino the Sin Spire.

But, the heist is not without its issues.  There is more going on in Tal Verrar than just business as usual.  There is a massive power struggle happening, and as you might expect, Jean and Locke get mixed up in the middle of it.

The story runs a good clip.  Clearly, Mr. Lynch did a bang-up job on research for this story.  You can’t just look up words for things on a sailing vessel; you have to learn a bit to understand how sail plans work and such.

Overall I would give the story a B+.  Some parts that felt a bit rushed and the conclusion of one of the major sub-plots was a bit hasty.  Otherwise, this was an excellent story.  I will offer that this book is not intended for children.

Mr. Lynch has created an incredible world, with a great deal of complexity.  There is a full pantheon of gods – complete with worshippers and rites.  There are superstitions and powerful groups who shouldn’t be crossed lightly.  I will certainly be (in fact, I already have started) reading the third book The Republic of Thieves.

And….done.

So I have (finally) published the third and final installment of my short story: Art and Artisans.  This story was a short story I worked on over the summer of 2014.  I wanted to write about my views on creative endeavors.  Setting it in a pseudo-science-fiction world was just me having fun.

I hope that people enjoy it.  Let me know what you like/dislike about it.  How do you feel about your creativity?

 

— CL

What I’m currently reading!

So, it’s been a while.  Things on the blog have been collecting dust.  Time to change that.

As most of you know I’m an avid reader.  I like to read all manner of story.

Currently, I am reading:

On Kindle: Casino Royale – Ian Flemming. I have seen many of the Bond films, but I have never read any of Mr. Flemming’s work.  So far I have been enjoying it quite a bit.  I will say that I wonder if Mr. Flemming was being paid by the word because I have a decent top-level understanding of how to play baccarat now.

On Audible: Red Seas Under Red Skies – Scott Lynch.  This is the second book of Mr. Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard Sequence.  Thus far I have enjoyed his series.  Admittedly I have only read the first book (The Lies of Locke Lamora) and part of the third book (Republic of Theives)

What’s up next?

On Kindle, I will be reading the first book from Katie Cash, The Mapkeeper and the Rise of the Wardens.  

On Audible, I will be reading the fourth book of the Monster Hunter International series from Larry Correia, Monster Hunter Nemesis

So what is everyone else reading these days?