Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Enough From The Clowns!

I'm sick and tired of clowns.  I'm not talking about the people with makeup and squirting flowers that somehow manage to terrify two hundred-and-fifty pound men.  I'm talking about people who write sloppy, perverted junk and have the nerve to call it a story.  I don't consider these people real authors, because they really don't seem to take their work seriously.  It's so poorly done that it comes across as a sick joke. 

I won't say the name of the particular clown that finally made me leave the circus.  They know who they are.  I read their writing sample on their website.  Within the span of a few pages, there were more graphic genitalia jokes and descriptions than I heard during my entire time in middle and high school.  I'm not saying that we should all be Pharisees who socially ostracize people whose characters do more than shake hands.  However, there's such a thing as discretion and tact.  I really don't need to know how fascinated a female character is with her shipmate's package, nor do I care what her shipmate thinks of her mammary appendages.  Not to mention that, regarding the former, I know PRACTICALLY NO women who like to stare at a man's package.  To say that this author has a few things to learn about women is an understatement.  Suffice it to say that I decided not to buy the book and unfollowed the author in Twitter.  There really comes a point where enough is enough.  I read because I want to enjoy a good story.  Making me vomit does not cause me to want to read your book.  Annoying me with crude, immature banter does not make me want to add you to my Kindle library.  Senseless carnage and hedonism won't enthrall me.  It will give me a big, freaking headache.  So if an author clowns around and throws junk like that in their book,  I won't read it, because quite frankly, I've had enough. 

Nick Cannon Is Awesome!

In this more light-hearted post, I am going to talk about a hilarious audition on "America's Got Talent."  I'm talking about Curtis Cutts Bey's rendition of the Rick James song known as "Give It To Me, Baby."  This trucker had barely gotten the first few lyrics out of his mouth when all three judges rejected him in a complete buzzer shut-out.  However, Nick Cannon and his unofficial new assistant, Ron Christopher Porter, Jr., took issue with this, bringing Bey back on stage.  What ensued was the most hilarious encore I have ever seen in my life.  Nick Cannon and Ron acted as Bey's backup dancers and really let loose and had fun.  It also showed just how fickle audiences can be.  The first time around, the crowd booed Bey off the stage.  The second time, they applauded him and his newfound backup dancers.  At any rate, it was an awesome end to one of the few entertaining shows left on television and I really enjoyed it. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

To all those who served in our military, thank you for the sacrifices which you have made.  I really appreciate it.  I was actually inspired by two stories that I heard on Fox News.  One was about Sgt. Sam Cila, who had part of his left arm amputated in Iraq.  The man not only competes in triathlons, but he also finished an Ironman competition and plans to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro!  Talk about tough!  I really hope he succeeds and I will follow his expedition to watch how it unfolds. 

Another story is about a member of Navy SEAL Team Six named Adam Brown.  He overcame crack addiction and eleven felony charges to join the military.  He got blinded in one eye during a training exercise and later lost all of his fingers, yet still managed to continue!  Even though sadly, he was killed in action, I know that I will meet him one day, for he was a born-again Christian. 

These two men really helped me gain perspective on my current situation.  I'm currently dealing with a hardship that is getting me down.  I don't believe a blog is the place to discuss it, but I will cover it in a memoir which I will title "That Was Then, This is Now."  Anyway, Sgt. Cila and Adam Brown inspired me to press on and gave me a much needed attitude adjustment.  This is because they didn't settle for "positive thinking" nonsense, but discovered the value of positive DOING.  Rather than sitting around and getting high off an  "I'll pretend everything is great and hope my problems will magically go away" delusion, they did what was necessary to overcome the trials in their life.  For that reason, these two men are now my heroes. 

You can find out more about Sgt. Cila and Adam Brown (respectively) at the following links:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Putting The Finishing Touches On "The First Dunite Citizen"

I have some things to fix in "The First Dunite Citizen", but it's all logistics at this point.  I just need to make sure that it is consistent with "Heart of Flesh" and "Daughter of the Seven Seas."  Other than that, the story is done.  It also taught me a lot about Max and "The Vigilante", which I will incorporate in "Black Swan Origins: Nineveh."

The editors at Mindflights and Ideomancer have helped me fix the last remaining major flaw in my writing.  When it comes to my short stories, I include way too much backstory.  The editors at these magazines say that this information, while interesting, really slows down the plot.  For that reason, I now include a mini "slash-and-burn" phase where I do nothing but cut out everything that isn't absolutely necessary.  One of the editors at Ideomancer actually gave me this advice and I am extremely grateful for it. 

Once I finish polishing "The First Dunite Citizen", I will return to "Black Swan Origins: Nineveh."  It will be the "fill-in-the-blank" phase, in which I write important scenes to connect the gems which survived the "slash-and-burn" phase.  It worked with "Black Swan Origins: Fionnuala", so I figure it would be a good revision strategy to keep. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Not Bad For A Nice Guy, Haha!

I saw UFC 146 last night and it was awesome!  The three fighters who I was rooting for all dominated their matches.  First Roy "Big Country" Nelson knocked out Dave Herman with a powerful right.  Then Cain Velasquez smashed Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva.  That fight was brutal.  I thought it would be a close decision, but Cain seemed bent on redeeming himself after his humiliating loss to Junior Dos Santos last year.  Antonio is lucky to be ALIVE after Cain was done with him.  I don't think it will be too long before Cain gets a chance to regain the UFC heavyweight title.

Dos Santos obliterated Frank Mir, which made my night.  I've never particularly cared for Mir, although his ground game is unmatched and I gained a lot of respect for him after seeing how well he treats his family.  I was scared for Dos Santos when Mir caught his leg in the first round, but luckily, he managed to escape.  Then he knocked Mir on his back, but learned from Brock Lesnar's mistake.  Instead of getting close enough to get caught in a kneebar, he stepped back and waited for Mir to stand up.  On the ground, Mir would have dismembered him.  However, when it comes to stand-up, Mir was simply too slow.  Dos Santos walloped him and in the second round, knocked him out with a hard right.  The hammerfist he hit Mir with after that was merely an exclamation point.  I am disappointed that Edson Barboza suffered his first loss.  You have to love a guy who praises Jesus Christ after he pulls off the first spinning heel kick knockout in UFC history.  That being said, I still loved the event.

Dos Santos made a joke after he won, saying "Not bad for a nice guy, ah?"  Well, it certainly wasn't, champ.  It certainly wasn't.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Discovering "The Vigilante"

During my break from my novel, I decided to do some revision on a short story which features "The Vigilante" as the main character.  This person is Max's childhood best friend.  As soon as Max was born, her cradle was put right next to this person.  The one known as "The Vigilante" loves Dunite culture and cannot understand why so many of her peers are so racist.  This story is about her showdown with one particular brute: Sandra's elder sister.  I've done three drafts and it is already excellent.

I love writing short stories because they give me a chance to develop my characters before they go into my novels.  Consider them auditions, if you will.  Sometimes when I am writing, some random person shows up and takes over.  That's when it really gets awesome, and it's actually the way Max wound up in the series.  Other times, a character who I planned to enter the story chokes and winds up sucking.  At that point, I put them out of their misery before they can do any serious damage.  I will probably release a book of these characters called "The Blooper Reel" after I complete all fifteen books. 

Free At Last!

Last night, I finally had the chance to attend "Night of Freedom", which is led by Pastor Troy at Apostolic Lutheran Church in Lake Worth.  Basically, it is a night of food, games and music for people who are recovering from addiction to alcohol and drugs.  I had the pleasure of meeting Pastor Troy at a different Christian group called "The Stronghold" and had wanted to attend sooner.  However, my schedule would not permit it.  Satan has a habit of turning your life upside-down every time you try to get involved in anything for God.  Thankfully, God created the opportunity for me to go regularly, so last night I went and asked for an opportunity to volunteer.  As it turned out, Pastor Troy needed someone to help stay and clean up the bathrooms and I eagerly agreed.  I will be doing that every time that I come.

He gave an amazing message about saving faith, using Abraham as an example and James 2: 19-22, which is quoted below:

"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?"

A lot of people misinterpret that passage to mean that we have to do good things to be saved.  That, quite frankly, is not true, and Pastor Troy made that clear in his sermon.  What the passage is saying is that if you really have faith in God, you will do good things.  Righteous deeds are merely proof of a living faith.  For example, if someone claims that they love the homeless, but they never volunteer at a shelter, refuse to donate to organizations which feed them, and blow them off if they try to talk to them, do they really love them?  No.  However, if they do all of those things, then it is proof that they do love the homeless.  The scriptures put it this way:

"Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." (James 2:18)

That's what I love about this ministry.  Pastor Troy not only gives the gospel; he lives it by trying to help these people.  He and the other people who work in this ministry show their faith by their works.  That's why I am glad to help in any way that I can, even if it is simply cleaning the bathrooms.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kudos to Caleb!

Imagine that you are an eleven-year-old boy.  You are out at night playing basketball with your friends and teenage girls from next door come over and ask you if you want to have sex.  How do you react?  Caleb was in this situation and made the right choice, telling the girls that he was not having sex until marriage.  I heard the latter end of this on 89.3 FM and am amazed at the maturity of this young man.  Even though the girls were probably joking, this was a really twisted thing to do to a fifth grader.  When I was in fifth grade, I didn't know any teenage girls who were sick enough to grind themselves against a preteen boy.  It wouldn't surprise me if that bottle that they had chucked at him had been full of alcohol earlier that night.  I'm glad that, thanks to Passport 2 Purity, Caleb had his head on straight and told them to back off.  You can hear the audiocast at the link below at FamilyLife's website.

Slash-and-Burn Complete!

Earlier today, I finished deleting the fluff in my novel.  The manuscript is now down to 198 pages.  Now I am going to take some time away from it so that I can look at the book with fresh eyes.  Meanwhile, I will edit shorter works of fiction. 

I don't want to cut corners in the revision of this novel for one reason: "Catching Fire." I read and enjoyed "The Hunger Games" trilogy, my particular favorite being "Mockingjay."  That being said, there were many scenes in "Catching Fire" that should have been edited out before it hit the shelves.  (Warning: Possible Spoilers)

In particular, Johanna Mason and Finnick Odair deserved better introductions than they got.  In addition, the Quarter Quell that Haymitch partook in needed to be completely rethought.  I found it so ridiculous (not least because of the killer squirrels) that I almost gave up on finishing the book altogether.  In that Quarter Quell, there was also an opportunity to develop Haymitch's character that should have been taken, but wasn't.

(End of Spoilers)

Anyway, one of my students at the time convinced me to finish it, and I'm glad I did.  That being said, I want to ensure "Black Swan Origins: Nineveh" is at its absolute best before I get it published. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Using a Scalpel Instead of a Machete

I'm getting to the point where slashing entire sections of the manuscript may get detrimental.  In light of this, I am being a lot more careful with what I cut.  Some scenes are good, but simply need to be condensed.  Others only need small parts removed from them here and there.  For that reason, I'm now using a scalpel instead of a machete, so to speak, and am editing in a more precise manner.

The Fighting Styles For The "Big Four" Have Been Chosen!

I've been watching a lot of martial arts videos on Youtube, trying to figure out which ones best fit the "Big Four."  Sandra's will be karate and not only because that's the one I have a black belt in.  I was also inspired by the way that Lyoto Machida flies over his opponents, as well as the speed and agility of Justin Lawrence on "The Ultimate Fighter."  After agonizing over it for a couple of days, I chose San Shou for "The Protector."  I had wanted to give her a European martial art, since those are overlooked.  However, after watching some World Championship clips on Youtube, San Shou looked like the best fit for her, since she is a heavy hitter who also has fearsome kicks.  For Max, I almost got convinced to use Sambo instead of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  However, many of the throws of Sambo were a bit too fancy for her.  After watching some highlights of Royce Gracie, I decided to stick with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  That being said, Sambo did wind up being the perfect fit for another major character who is not one of the "Big Four."  For "The Vigilante", I decided to use Pankration.  This is because she is a vicious wrestler who throws her opponents around like they are made out of paper. 

I would love to have the top rank in all of these systems.  However, that would not be practical.  It took me seven years to get my black belt in karate.  To master Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, San Shou, Pankration, and Sambo would likely take at least double that.  So I'm going to do a lot of reading and watch many tournaments on DVD, as well as see every UFC event that I can.  If finances permit, I will also try to take at least one class in each of the latter four martial arts.  That way, I can get a good feel for the fighting style.  Louis L'Amour, who is a fantastic author, did extensive research in order to write his Westerns and his books and short stories are amazing as a result.  I feel that my readers deserve the same quality of work from myself, so I will learn those fighting styles as best as I can to make sure that they receive it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

26 Pages To Burn!

By this weekend, I hope to finish deleting all the unnecessary fluff in my novel.  I've already slashed 58 pages and am going to burn at least 26 more.  Ideally, I'd like to remove 46 more pages, but that might lead to throwing the baby out with the bath, so I'll look over the draft after I hit the 26-page milestone before I go any further. 

To say that I am on a roll is an understatement.  I feel like I am going at lightspeed!  In my head, the novel is practically finished already.  I just need to find time to write it all down.  I'm also looking forward to watching UFC 146 to get more ideas for the fight scenes.  Dos Santos vs. Mir should be an awesome striker vs. grappler matchup.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Revision Goals Set!

Earlier today, I set my revision goals for BSO: Nineveh 6.0.  Other than "slash and burn", I need to increase the role of a member of the supporting cast.  She's the best friend of one of the "Big Four" characters, so she can't only have a few cute lines here and there, as she does now.  I've also changed the relationship between two of the characters.  Instead of being cousins, they will be half-siblings.  This revision should be faster than the last one.  My goal is to have it finished by the end of July.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

How Tony Stark Got His Groove Back

Earlier today, I found this awesome article on Robert Downey, Jr.  It describes how he managed to turn his life around after his drug addiction destroyed his career.  I have been a fan of his ever since I stayed up late at night during college and saw "Two Girls and a Guy."  The movie was terrible, but Robert Downey, Jr.'s acting was amazing and kept me glued to the screen.  Anyway, in "Iron Man", he portrayed the perfect Tony Stark.  Even though "Iron Man 2" wasn't as good as the first one, I still liked it and his acting somehow became even better.  He also stole the show in "The Avengers", although the other actors did a good job as well.  So when I found this article called "Reinvention 101: 5 Lessons From Robert Downey, Jr." on Yahoo! Small Business Advisor, I immediately checked it out.  It offered some really good advice, even showing how Wing Chun helped him conquer his addiction.  Check out the article at the link below.

BSO: Nineveh 5.0 Complete!

I finally finished draft five of "Black Swan Origins: Nineveh", a.k.a. BSO: Nineveh 5.0.  I anticipate the plot to be finished by BSO: Nineveh 7.0.  After that, it will simply be refining the characters, fine-tuning the dialogue, and then mapping out the setting. 

I have already started BSO: Nineveh 6.0, a.k.a. the "slash-and-burn" draft.  I have axed 15 useless pages already and the book looks better.  It's probably like watching your wife toning up at the gym.  You'd love her no matter what, but all that cardio is starting to make her look GOOD.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Coming Down The Home Stretch of Draft Five!

Today I went to the library and made significant progress on "Black Swan Origins: Nineveh."  I only have about 15 pages left.  The story is beginning to write itself and and it's getting much easier to spot what to keep, what to edit, and what to revise. 

During January, I did a short story blitz in which I wrote 30 tales covering the backstory of the novel.  Although Maxine Njalsdottir took over a disproportionate amount of them, I learned a lot about other key characters who have an interest in Cassandra's well-being, as well as those who want her dead.  It also exposed one flaw: Lambert Grettirsson needs a stronger role in the book.  I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but let's just say that Max did not tell Sandra the whole story about her encounters with her older brother in "Daughter of the Seven Seas."

I should be finished with draft 5 tomorrow.  After that, I will slash a couple of scenes before sending it out to some friends and family to read. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Only 57 pages left in Draft 5!

I've been getting a lot of editing done on "Black Swan Origins: Nineveh."  I only have 57 pages left in the fifth draft.  It will still need at least two more drafts before it is publishable, but it's getting really good! 

However, many scenes need to be cut out to make the story flow better.  The manuscript is 284 pages long and I want to get it down to 200 pages or less.  These scenes are fun to read, but aren't really necessary to the tale.  They're sort of like the fat on a steak: they are delicious, but have no nutritional value.  Since this is my debut novel, I only want "the meat", so to speak.  For that reason, I am going to trim this thing until it is as lean as a UFC Champion. 

Back In the Blogosphere!

Technorati code: NNRFKYMQWAJP

My old blog really wasn't going anywhere, so I decided to start this new one.  I'm focusing on promoting my writing, although I will throw in posts on other topics such as UFC and films for variety.  I decided to go with a new name, since nobody seemed to understand the Nazarite reference.  It does NOT refer to Jesus, who was a Nazarene (i.e. someone from the town of Nazareth).  A Nazarite was someone who separated themselves unto God through taking a special vow.  The chief part of the vow was that they weren't supposed to cut their hair.  My favorite Biblical character, Samson, is an example of a Nazarite, which is one reason why I chose that to be the name of my old blog.  I will still keep my old blog, but it will primarily be for spiritual thoughts.