Monday, April 28, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Scoop - 4/20/2014 Easter Edition

It's been a month since my last real update.  Oops.

In my defense, I've got a new baby, had to adjust to being back at work after a month off with said baby, and, well, my free time's been stretched a little thinner.  

Let's start with Book 3 of Korin's Journal:

That progress bar over there ----> hasn't been moved in a while, huh?  Now, if you see my Facebook updates, I made a mention about rewriting a chapter about a month ago.  That was true, but in rewriting it, I realized the prior two chapters needed work.  This is one problem with not outlining - sometimes what's in my head does not pan out the way I thought, and I don't realize its not working until, well, later than I should.  (Side note: given that formal outlines present me - that's ME, not everybody - even more problems, I still have no plans for doing it now, or ever) Anyway, it turned into a much longer process than anticipated, one that I just finished yesterday.  Basically, after a long month of working with the problems, I can finally move on to new material!  Hooray!

But that's what editing, revisions, and rewrites are for once the rough draft is done, right?  Not for someone with mild OCD who couldn't look beyond the problems, even if they only affected those chapters, not the whole book.  To keep it simple, I felt like I was forcing information that I wanted the reader to know into the chapters with no regard for how unrealistically the information was being presented.  Kind of like "oh, let me tell you all about these certain important people who will play a major role in the coming chapters even though I don't even know you."  For example, have you ever played an old-school JRPG(Japanese Role Playing Game for all you lesser nerds, or games like Final Fantasy for all you lesser lesser nerds, or nerd games for those who still remain)?  I always found it humorous you could just walk into random people's houses that would have no idea who you were and they would tell you an important plot point - you know, as opposed to being like "Who the f*@& are you, and what the f#@* are you doing in my f&*#ing house?"

In the end, I decided that I will add a short chapter or two's worth of additional material in the coming chapters to address this.  The upside to this is that the two new characters this material will be focused on, characters who will be crucial to the plot, will be more fleshed out and there are now two scenes between each of them and Korin that I am really looking forward to writing. Later this week, I'll update the progress bar, though there won't be much of a difference yet.  Still, some progress has been made, and once I move a few pages I left tacked on to the end of my book file in case I wanted to reuse some of them to another file, I'll have a proper word count to base it of off(yes, I  know I could just delete it, get the word count, and then undo the delete, but that would make far too much sense).

The only other update I have is that I have come up with some awesome(in my opinion, anyway) plot changes and some exciting(and in one case, incredibly emotional) scenes to go along with them.  If you've read any of my earlier blogs, you may have heard me mention that most of my plotting happens when jogging.  While a small portion of these ideas did originate during my recent runs, the majority came to me one day last week when mowing the lawn.  I know this seems silly to tell you, especially since I won't explain what these ideas are, but I just want to express that there are some epic moments to look forward to that did not exist in my head before yesterday, and they have me more excited and inspired than my original vision going into this.  

Now, since I haven't had a Warrior Wednesday blog in a while, some updates on my St. Jude fundraiser and training for the North Carolina Warrior Dash next month:

First of all, I have finally become inspired to really get back into running and to get to the gym more.  In the past week, I have even *gasp* started watching my diet!  Not going to shove too much fitness crap down your throat, but I'm proud to say that I ran every morning before work this past week, have run 10 consecutive days(as of today), and ran 19.5 miles over the course of this week!  

(The 5 miles for 4/12 were actually from 2 runs, one being from 4/11 and posted late, thus 10 consecutive days of running)

Overall, I'm proud that I'm finally putting in the effort to get back into a hobby I love so much.  Documenting my improvement here is very self-serving in that it kind of holds me more accountable, or at least it feels like it does.  Before my protruding disk last June, my pace and endurance were much better, but after allowing myself to fall into a slump, I'm happy to see some improvement and to regain some of my motivation.  I still don't sleep enough, but I already feel a higher level of natural energy from the past couple weeks alone.  I'll definitely be more than ready for May's Warrior Dash, and the similar-ish Down and Dirty Adventure Run the week before it.

Which brings me to my last update - raising money for St. Jude:

As you may know, I signed up to raise money for St. Jude Children's Hospital through the Warrior Dash race, and thanks to several kind donations, I quickly reached my initial goal of $300.  Accordingly, I raised my goal to $500.  As of now, $315 has been donated, and I am very thankful to all of you who have donated to this amazing cause.  Remember, there's some incentives for donations, such as signed copies of my book and getting your name or a name of your choice(within reason) as a major character in Book 3 of Korin's Journal.  Every $5 gets you a chance for one of these incentives.  Be sure to check out for more information and to make a donation.  I don't get anything beyond having access to the St. Jude Warriors VIP tent(with showers and bag check), which I already have raised enough for. This is solely because I love this organization and all that they do.  Every dollar you donate can do so much for the care of sick children, allowing them to get the care they need without ever seeing a bill, not to mention all the research St. Jude does to advance the treatment of illnesses in children.  So, come on, let's do this!  $500 isn't far away!

Either click the link in the prior paragraph, or the image below to make a donation today!  You'll have my eternal gratitude.  

All right, so that was a really long blog.  Sorry about that.  I'll try to be a little better about blogging in the coming weeks.  Now, in an attempt to slow your browser, here's some pictures of our Easter fun over the past couple of weekends.  

Happy Easter to you all!

- Brian

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Review - Words of Radiance

Friday Review

Words of Radiance
Book 2 of the Stormlight Archive
Brandon Sanderson

Wow.  I don't know where to even start with this one.  Admittedly, though Brandon Sanderson is my favorite author, I wasn't the biggest fan of The Way of Kings, the first book of the Stormlight Archives.  I mean, the story was good and the world was interesting, but for some reason it did not hook me the way his other books had.

Now, with Words of Radiance, I may have a new favorite fantasy novel(and optimistically, new fantasy series).

Words of Radiance mainly continues the storylines of the major characters from Way of Kings - Kaladin, Shallan, Jasnah, Dalinar, Adolin, and Szeth, the assassin in white.  The way that these characters eventually come together is nothing short of genius, culminating in an ending that the word "epic" doesn't seem to begin to cover. Basically, what Way of Kings made me think this series was ultimately building towards served only as the climax of book two.  Out of a planned ten.  Yeah.

The world in the Stormlight Archives is rich, unique, and awe inspiring.  Sanderson has crafted a world which has been shaped by violent storms called highstorms.  All facets of life and the evolution of plants, animals, and humans are tied to the deadly power of these forces of nature.  It may be cliche to speak of the world within a fantasy book being a character in itself, but that truly applies here.  I cannot imagine the amount of work Sanderson put into crafting the adaptation of life to live in this storm-torn existence.  The magic in this world, powered by stormlight(basically an energy that originates in the highstorms) is complex and creative, a Sanderson staple.

There are enough interweaving plots to potentially tie your brain into knots, yet Sanderson pulls them off deftly, throwing twists and surprising revelations at the reader left and right.  Even predictable plot points are given an injection of Sanderson ingenuity.  And never do these twists feel as if they exist to further the story or to simply throw off the reader.  Each is crucial to the story, and completely believable in the context of the story.  I know I'm a little biased in this regard(as I've mentioned, Sanderson is my favorite author), but he has really outdone himself with the story this time.

The characters all possess an amazing amount of depth(Sanderson seems to have evolved past the criticism of having two-dimensional characters in his prior works . . . maybe an effect from finishing Roobert Jordan's Wheel of Time series).  Every main character is wholly believable(in a swords and sorcery fantasy sense), each with their own personal demons and motivations.  Not one of the dozens of main and side characters blend in with another.  Each is unique and interesting.

The action in this book, as with any Sanderson book, is exciting, fast-paced, and brilliant in its creativity.

Now, I know I haven't said much about the plot, and I don't feel I can without giving more than I'd like away.  Instead, I'd like to express that this is an AMAZING epic fantasy novel.  The hardback version is over a thousand pages(I read that it's the biggest book published by TOR page wise . . . not 100% sure if that's true)and 300K+ words, yet it reads like a book a quarter of its size, keeping you glued to the pages from the first to the last with little to no filler.  Some of the biggest names in epic fantasy(Tolkien, Jordan, Martin) are/were unable to pull off such a feat.  When I finished the last page, I wasn't ready to put down the book.  I wanted more, so much so that I found myself actually hating the thought of the series coming to an end 8 books from now.  Yeah, I enjoyed it that much.  I can't remember the last time I was this satisfied with a book in a series.  The end is still stuck in my head as I write this, and probably will be until book 3 is released a year or more from now.

Again, I know I have a bit of a Sanderson bias, but I still feel that this is a book that needs to be read by any fan of epic fantasy.  Heck, just fantasy.  I do not recommend going into it without reading Way of Kings, but know that if you even sort of enjoy Way of Kings, I guarantee you'll LOVE Words of Radiance.