Feet first, again.

foot_prints_in_the-_sand

I am part of a writing group on facebook. A wonderful place where I can get insight on writing, submit pieces for critique if needed. That sort of thing.

Out of curiosity, I made a post inquiring how many people were making a living writing. Needless to say, there weren’t many.  Some were writing copy, one was a ghostwriter. maybe a few were making a substantial amount from writing-related things such as editing(one was making 6 figures at her job and had not yet replaced it with book writing).

I also ran into comments from some people who seemed to think a writer couldn’t make a living as an author. Some seemed to think that unless a writer is selling millions of books, or making seven figures, they aren’t successful.

I took a long break from writing regularly after my father passed away. He was a big part of my endeavor to build a writing career.  He was also my initial editor and reader, and next to my wife was my biggest supporter. He helped me immensely with my first 2 books. When he died, I stopped trying.

It took a long time to get the fire burning again, but the great thing about being human is that we get to start over, to try again. To remake what was broken. (Ok, that last bit was from Lord of the Rings.)

By now you may have some questions. I will try to answer them in no particular order, and one at a time.

I don’t get it. What’s the point?

Well, the point is I’m a glutton for punishment. I Intend to prove them wrong.

How are you going to do that?

I made a plan, which I’ll explain in another blog post. The short of it is, I’m going to write more books, and fast.

This is dumb. You can’t just leave me hanging like that. 

Okay, okay. This isn’t technically a question, you know. I’ll give you the gist, then I’ll detail it in another blog post. First off my plan is to build an audience and prepare for a book launch. I want to re-launch my book, confessor, but only after I establish myself. I need to grow my online presence, set up a web page, and start building a mailing list. I also need to write, write, write.

What makes you think you can make a living writing? What makes you so special?

That’s two questions. didn’t I say one at a time?

Oh yeah.Sorry.

Sure you are. I think I can make a living because I’m an egotistical prick. That was a joke. I think I can make a living writing because I believe that I can. I also don’t like being told no. That just pisses me off. I’m stubborn and hard-headed,  and I refuse to lose. Besides, its a dream of mine. Dreams are good, right?

I guess so. What else are you going to do?

Document. I’m going to document everything.

Why? are you a glutton for punishment? Aren’t you afraid of showing your failures to the world?

Of course. Why wouldn’t I be? I’m doing it because it will be a good incentive not to quit. Sometimes, if you tell a bunch of people what your plans are, they will support you. or at the very least, give you crap if you want to quit. Say things like, “dude, you told the whole world you were going to make a living writing. are you some kind of moron?” or something like that.

I don’t know. Sounds pretty dumb to me.

That’s okay. You’re like all the other people out there telling me what I can and can’t do. I’m jumping in feet first. Again. Also, talking to myself is healthy. I promise.

But answering questions you ask yourself isn’t.

Shut up. Not you. I was talking to myself.

 

 

Sometimes, it’s fine

Over the last couple days I’ve reread my book, Confessor. In preparation for a relaunch and possibly continuing on with some more writing (I still have a sequel or 2 in mind) I wanted to fix errors, perhaps do some rewriting, etc. I’ve been away from the book long enough, several years in fact, to hopefully be objective about what I’d written and be able to see trouble spots, sections I would need to rewrite for clarity, maybe having to rewrite the book completely. 

When I’d finished it way back in 2012, I was relieved. Eccstatic. This was a novel I had poured my heart and soul into. I felt, at the time, that it had good premise, decent flow, and a semi-brilliant ending. Even though I knew better, a small part of me hoped (and prayed) that it would take off like a rocket. Of course that didn’t happen. But as I said, I knew better. A writer makes money on a body of work, not a single novel. 

At any rate, my expectation was that I was going to read it and see a disaster.  The plot would crumble beneath my perfectionist gaze.

Only it didn’t. It’s amazing what a few years can do. Sure, I found some errors. Some words that were missed. A few paragraphs I deleted all together. I added a few words for clarity. 

As a whole, though, it read well. Way better than I expected. Did I catch everything? Probably not. I still read well published author’s books and fine errors of one type or another. We are human, it happens.

However, having been away from this book for so long and coming back to it, I realized that it’s not bad. I didn’t change the story, delete any chapters, rewrite any large sections. I’m still a perfectionist, but for once I didn’t get the insane urge to scrap it and rewrite the whole thing. 

Sometimes, it’s fine, just the way it is.

Draw a box, part 1

I’ve been working on improving my artwork, which over the years has gotten what I personally consider marginally better. One of my goals for the year was to hopefully make large strides in my understanding of drawing, to the point where I’m fairly comfortable drawing from my mind instead of using a reference.

The main issue I’d been having is knowing what to do to improve, outside of just drawing a lot. You can see what sort of stuff I’ve been doing here. It’s very easy to go all over the place, and I personally haven’t felt that I’ve made very many strides over the last 21 days.

During this month of non-stop drawing I’ve read several books and attempted to work through them, only to get frustrated due to my own lack of understanding of how to apply what I’d read. I’ve played music for many, many,years, and the first thing you learn is the fundamentals. Scales, cords, etc. And you do them over and over and over until you can do them in your sleep. And then you work on different pieces to develop the skill. And somewhere along the way, you just get it. The music flows, you hear a song in your head and your fingers do their thing.

For people with talent, sometimes it happens right away. For most people, just doing the work and having a love for what you’re doing will get you there. Eventually you’ll hear it, and it will flow like water.

I want the same for my drawing. Except that I was never given any scales, or chords. I didn’t move on to pieces that would mold my skill into something useable, so I felt like I was banging away on the piano, able to hear music in my head but never able to get my fingers to express it in the way I wanted.

While I was googling around looking for a book or tutorials that might help I ran across  a website, http://www.drawabox.com that purports to teach in the way that I’m looking for. The basics, with exercises such as the one in my image, among other things drawing lines, circles, eclipses, boxes. The guy that runs it, Irshad Karim, also has a Patreon set up, if you donate anything a month he will do critiques plus there is bonus content. I’ve spent a good amount of time looking through the course on drawabox, and from what I can see its worth a lot more than he’s charging. He’s offering what is essentially a full blown art class for nothing, with art critiques for as low as $1 a month. 

So what does the course include?

First things first. 

Here’s how you hold the pen. Exercises.draw lines, boxes. Ghost lines. Cylinders. Plants. Textures. Organic forms. The human body. Anatomy. Perspective. The list goes on and its a long one, and I’m not sure how long it would take if someone decided to do the whole thing. Maybe a semester in college? Maybe longer. 

I am going to post updates here as I move through it. It should be fun, and I’m looking forward to it. If you ever wanted to learn how to draw, nows your chance. From the website: “Anyone can learn to draw. It’s not some magical talent a few people are born with. It’s a skill you can train.” Here goes.

The Samsung Note5 as a sketching tool 

I decided I was going to draw for at least 30 days straight, and I’m currently 2 weeks in to it. While I’m not afraid to utilize my trusty pencil and paper sketchbooks, I find myself in more situations that make it inconvenient to carry even a small sketchbook and favorite pencil.

Enter the Samsung Galaxy Note5. I have had it for almost a year now. I chose the phone specifically because it had a stylus. There are really only 2 phones on the market that have them, and the LG Stylo (I think it’s called) really isn’t an option. That phone only has a poking device, no sensitivity. 

The Note5, on the other hand, can do some pretty great things as far as art is concerned. The stylus is very precise, it is a bit small but since I primarily use if for sketching I don’t find it off putting, especially considering the lack of devices that include some sort of pen.

There’s a wide variety of apps that can be used for drawing. Samsung was nice enough to include a Sketchbook for Galaxy by auto desk, which is still my primary sketch app. I have tried others,but keep returning to this one.

The screen on the phone is a nice 5.7 inches, very large and bright, probably still one of the best on the market.

Battery life: I’m not thrilled with it, but that’s partially because of how I use the phone, and partially because Samsung didn’t put a large enough battery in it. 3000 mAh is kind of small for a phone this size. They fixed that issue in the note7, but since the recall I have not had a chance to test it.

Storage: for most people 32gb is probably be enough. For me it’s definitely not, and I’ve found myself in the position of needing more but having no way to get it. Samsung stupidly didn’t include an SD card slot. While some would argue that it isn’t needed in the age of cloud I beg to differ. I have filled my phone up multiple times with pictures and video (I have my first child), and I also like to load audio books and tutorials. Those take up a lot of space even at the lower resolution, and storage goes quick. This is an issue Samsung fixed with the Note7, but with the recall we are still waiting for it.

Overall: I’m really impressed with the phone. It’s a high quality device, But does have some downsides. If you want a phone you can do art on this will definitely do the job, no question. With the new note7 (re)release the price of this one should drop considerably. If don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for the newest one and can see past the lack of sd card, I would definitely recommend it.

4 Years Later…

4 Years Later…

It has been 4 Years since I posted anything in this space, and a lot has happened. 2 parents passed away (my dad and my wife’s dad). We had our first child after fifteen years of trying, hoping, and praying. 

He is almost 8 months now, an amazing ball of energy that keeps us smiling as we watch his progress with pride only parents could have for basic things like laughing, rolling over, and the very beginnings of an army crawl that keep us recording him with anticipation.

We moved, having decided that we needed to be closer to the only parent either of us had left(my wife’s mom), both for our child’s sake and for hers., to hopefully help ease the loss that we both feel.

I have written during the span of time I’ve been away from my blog, but I’ve done some other things as well. I’ve picked up the pencil in order to draw more, and I’ve formed a small media company with a good friend of mine to make games, both card/board games and video games, as well as publish books and some other assorted stuff. You can see the Facebook page here

Some things we have in the works:

  • An educational card game called Flipwords
  • Re-release of my novel, Confessor
  • A 2d space shooter game
  • An as yet named novel, that combines some scifi and fantasy elements. More on that later.

What can you expect to see in this space going forward?  More content, for one. Some reviews of games, more writing/book related stuff, tools of the trade, drawings etc. Stay tuned for more as things move forward, thanks for reading.

Lee Child’s Killing Floor

reach

So I’m sorry to say I have never read a Lee child book before. If I had, I would have devoured each book like a lion tearing through raw animal flesh. Sorry for the bloody imagery. I had no preconceived notions about this book. I’ve seen Lee Child pop up on Joe Konrath’s blog called A Newbies Guide to Publishing, although I can’t remember the post. He was battling with their group over something. Not sure if it was about sock puppets or what.

Anyway, I was at Walmart, that huge conglomeration of Chinese made fluff, and I was wandering through the only isle of American made stuff, (books!) that my eyes fell upon the book. No, it wasn’t the snarky cover with Tom Cruise on the front. The cover had a bloody hand on both the front and back covers. Rather amateurish, but hey, at that point I wasn’t judging the book by its cover. I read the description. It sounded interesting. Then I started reading the forward, written by the author. Believe it or not, that’s what hooked me. We have been in similar situation. He was unemployed at the time of its writing, it being his first published novel, so I could definitely relate. I put it in the shopping cart and intended to put it down somewhere between the coffee isle and the mixed nuts.

I some how made it to the car with it still in my bags. I got home, devoured it in a mere 4 hours. (Not all in one sitting of course, I’m a busy guy.)

The story starts out with this guy, Jack Reacher, getting arrested in some small town as he’s sitting down for some eggs and toast at a small diner. At this point I’m probably supposed to say something flowery, but I won’t. Lee’s sentences are clipped. Short, and too the point. Jack tells the story, and he doesn’t bother over describing anything. It felt almost as if, in reading, Jack was recounting a story over a ham and cheese sandwich. Or maybe a rare steak and a beer. One thing I found in the writing was how real everything felt. Jack doesn’t punch people in the face. He knows he might break his hands. Instead he head-butts them. The details Lee Child decides to include don’t feel overdone, like he’s feeding too much information to you just because he knows it. The book is visceral without being overly descriptive, in a way that some horror writers are. There’s my quote: “The book is visceral.”

The book had a great ending, which I won’t spoil for you. But if you like action in your books, some whodunit, and stories where the good guy wins, this is definitely for you. I’d give it an easy 4 1/2 stars.

Trade Paperback Proofs

Trade Paperback Proofs

 

While I have a moment in between working on new chapters, hanging out with the inlaws for the holidays, and just general lounging, I thought I’d give you a preview of the upcoming paperback version of Confessor. The cover turned out nicer than I thought. There are just a couple of internal things I need to tweak but nothing major.

 

The photos aren’t as good as I would like, but you get the idea.

Overall I’m completely happy with how it turned out. CreateSpace does an awesome job. The book is bound well, shouldn’t fall apart in your hands after several read throughs (I’ve read all the books I own multiple times, lol). Honestly, it feels great to actually have a physical book. Well, back to slaving away. Hope everyone has a good holiday.