The Dark Flame

The Dark Flame
The Dark Flame

So I have been away from the blog for a bit due to writing and most recently editing. In the midst of this i have released a short story which is the prequel to the next book.  You can find this book on Amazon here.

This short went through a few changes. I had to add several chapters because if I didn’t I was threatened with bodily harm from my beta readers. I cant go into detail without spoiling it for you. Pick it up and let me know what you think.  

The next few months are going to be full of activity. The next book is scheduled for early May I will have a cover reveal soon. 

Stay tuned!

Synopsis:

He would sacrifice all for love.

Roland James is an Arch Mystic and an expectant father. When the Enclave discovers his wife-Mei is pregnant, they demand he adhere to the rules and give up the baby for mandatory reprogramming and Enforcer training. When he refuses, the Enclave decides he is better off dead, along with his wife and unborn child. Now, together with Mei, they must evade the Enclave forces sent to kill them long
enough for her to give birth. They must find a way to escape the Enclave or lose it all.

I enjoy hearing from you! Leave me a comment below or send me an email.

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Writers Write II

quill
quill

This one is going to piss a few of you off.

I made peace with that. Understand that this is MY OPINION and you are welcome to disagree with me. Hell you can even completely ignore this entire post. That is your prerogative. Still here? Good. Strap in and lets go. If this one raises your hackles or if you feel the need to illuminate me on the error of my ways…I direct you to the comment section below.

There is no such thing as writer’s block.

Barring depression and or anxiety which are real things and can stand in the way of your writing (and if you suffer from these I strongly urge you to seek medical help) the other reasons that writers come up with to attribute to writer’s block sound like so many excuses.

For every ‘reason’ out there that has stopped a writer, there are countless others who have had the same(or worse) setbacks and have continued to write. It’s time we let go of the crutches and get to walking on our own.

Take ownership of your writing. Stop ascribing near mythical properties to these challenges in your life.

Not enough time? Reevaluate how you spend yours.

Demanding Job? Do what needs to be done then get to writing.

Family responsibilities? Meet your responsibilities and then get to writing.

Death of a loved one? Grieve, grieve some more. Remember that you are still alive and choose life. Use your writing as a catharsis if you must, but get back to it.

Lost your desire? Remember why you started writing in the first place… and then start again.

Dont fall into this trap. Dont make excuses. Dont put it off.

Develop the discipline to see it through and FINISH WHAT YOU START.

BE COURAGEOUS.

<rant over>

I’ll leave you with a quote that sums this up for me.

“Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.”
― Robert McKee

Writers Write.

Comments are open if you so feel the need.

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Staked by Kevin Hearne

Staked cover
Staked by Kevin Hearne

I put it off for as long as I could/dared.  This book is excellent and I highly recommend you pick it up and give it a read!

Here is the synopsis:

When a Druid has lived for two thousand years like Atticus, he’s bound to run afoul of a few vampires. Make that legions of them. Even his former friend and legal counsel turned out to be a bloodsucking backstabber. Now the toothy troublemakers—led by power-mad pain-in-the-neck Theophilus—have become a huge problem requiring a solution. It’s time to make a stand.
 
As always, Atticus wouldn’t mind a little backup. But his allies have problems of their own. Ornery archdruid Owen Kennedy is having a wee bit of troll trouble: Turns out when you stiff a troll, it’s not water under the bridge. Meanwhile, Granuaile is desperate to free herself of the Norse god Loki’s mark and elude his powers of divination—a quest that will bring her face-to-face with several Slavic nightmares.
 
As Atticus globetrots to stop his nemesis Theophilus, the journey leads to Rome. What better place to end an immortal than the Eternal City? But poetic justice won’t come without a price: In order to defeat Theophilus, Atticus may have to lose an old friend.

This is the eighth book in the Iron Druid Chronicles with number nine Scourged being the final ( which I hope is a lie) installment in the series.

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Writers Write

words are art
words are art

I recently read a post about how damaging this saying can be: writers write. I will give you my views on this saying in an upcoming post.

The original post by JH Moncrieff is located HERE.

Give it a read because JH Moncrieff makes some good points, but I dont agree with her.

Here is my response because right now Im too irritated to write out an answer. For all of you that write.

This is a post by Neil Gaiman on writing.

Writers Write-Read on.

Dear  Author,

By now you’re probably ready to give up. You’re past that first fine furious rapture when every character and idea is new and entertaining. You’re not yet at the momentous downhill slide to the end, when words and images tumble out of your head sometimes faster than you can get them down on paper. You’re in the middle, a little past the half-way point. The glamour has faded, the magic has gone, your back hurts from all the typing, your family, friends and random email acquaintances have gone from being encouraging or at least accepting to now complaining that they never see you any more—and that even when they do you’re preoccupied and no fun. You don’t know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you’re pretty sure that even if you finish it it won’t have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began—a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read—it falls so painfully short that you’re pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing.

Welcome to the club.

That’s how novels get written.

You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

A dry-stone wall is a lovely thing when you see it bordering a field in the middle of nowhere but becomes more impressive when you realise that it was built without mortar, that the builder needed to choose each interlocking stone and fit it in. Writing is like building a wall. It’s a continual search for the word that will fit in the text, in your mind, on the page. Plot and character and metaphor and style, all these become secondary to the words. The wall-builder erects her wall one rock at a time until she reaches the far end of the field. If she doesn’t build it it won’t be there. So she looks down at her pile of rocks, picks the one that looks like it will best suit her purpose, and puts it in.

The search for the word gets no easier but nobody else is going to write your novel for you.

The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm—or even arguing with me—she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, “Oh, you’re at that part of the book, are you?”

I was shocked. “You mean I’ve done this before?”

“You don’t remember?”

“Not really.”

“Oh yes,” she said. “You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients.”

I didn’t even get to feel unique in my despair.

So I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.

One word after another.

That’s the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine, it’s the only way to do it.

So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another.

Pretty soon you’ll be on the downward slide, and it’s not impossible that soon you’ll be at the end. Good luck…

Neil Gaiman

 

From Writer to Author-Making the transition

authorwriter
Author/Writer

I’ve been a little quiet on the blog because I have been creating a persona. Back in 2012 when  started writing professionally I had no clue what a persona or “brand” was. I just knew I wanted to write a book and I wanted to get it out into the world.

I didn’t know about marketing or having a presence. Online or otherwise. I simply thought that if I wrote the book I would have a legion of readers clamoring to get my book.  Yes the naivete was in abundance. Continue reading From Writer to Author-Making the transition

The Difference between Sparring and Fighting

striking points
striking points

I took a brief break from blogging to catch up on my reading and writing. I am in the middle of rereading Scaling Force by Miller and Kane. This was part of series for me that started with  The Little Black Book of Violence, by Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder. Followed by The gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker and culminated by Scaling Force. I recommend getting all of the above and studying them, repeatedly.

Why reread these books and books like them?
First a little background: I was born and raised in the streets of the South Bronx in NYC. In the process of my growing, despite having a very strong parental influence I knew what it was to join and be in gangs. In my life I faced pipes, clubs, bottles, knives and the barrel of a gun several times. I know what it is to be in a fight one on one, the chaos of two armed mobs fighting and being in a situation when you are outnumbered. I don’t share this as a badge of honor, it was and is a stupid path to pursue, grounded in a false sense of pride and ego that usually sends you to an early grave. I share it because it gives me insight into what the differences are between sparring and combat. I wont go into the military aspects of combat, because I have never been in the military (although I have family who have served with distinction) and so I cant give that perspective. I want to approach this from the perspective of street violence. Which is what we are most likely to encounter.

In our school we have the poster you see above hanging on one of our walls. In fact I have seen the same wall chart of striking points in several schools. Its so pervasive that it has become part of the scenery, no one really asks about it and its just accepted as part of the decor. If you stop a moment and take time to examine the wall chart  you will see that the points it shows can be quite devastating if struck with force. The points are not often taught in a regular class even though most of them are contained in the kata in most styles of the striking arts.

This is the case with sparring and fighting. Most schools teaching fighting are actually teaching sparring, there  is protective gear and points and places on the body that are off-limits. All of this is good and has its place. I like to send students home intact without visits to the hospital or broken and dislocated parts. The danger lies when this is all that is taught, or is taught as combat. At some point the student must be taken to the other side of fighting, which is combat. There are no rules in combat. No one is going to wait while you don gear and get yourself mentally ready. No one is going to step in and break you up if it gets too rough. There are no rounds and  no points. When you are in this context survival is the goal.

This is not to discount the legality of this type of encounter. There are and can be severe legal penalties for causing damage and breaking a person when that level of force was not required. Which is why awareness is paramount. The concept of scaling force is also indispensable to meeting violence with the appropriate  response. I always tell my students- if you have to get physical, you weren’t paying attention and your defense failed. The legal ramifications are so involved that a book would be required to do the subject justice, see the above titles for a good start.

So how do we reconcile these concepts of sparring and combat? Sparring is a tool to introduce concepts and principles. It is a safe, controlled environment that allows for mistakes. It is a laboratory of sorts, where you can explore and ask and try out techniques. The stakes, if there are any are low.

Combat / Fighting is almost the exact opposite of sparring. It is not safe or controlled. It is chaotic, fast, sloppy and messy. It sends your body through a hormone cocktail that you will not be able to control. Mistakes usually result in serious bodily harm or death-the stakes are high, sometimes the highest.

If you find yourself in a school or self defense class that does not make this distinction, do your research ask questions of the instructor and find out the strategies and tactics of the style you are currently engaged in and how it would deal with violence in an uncontrolled situation.

I recently had to revise the way one of my students was sparring. The method she was learning was a formal sparring method, which she was struggling with. When that was changed to a no rules type of fighting, this works on the street method, her ability and understanding shifted and improved considerably.

Both have their place in training and your life, just remember to know the  difference between the two.

Sensei
Sensei Orlando

 

Book 4 The Warrior Ascendant

The Warrior Ascendant
The Warrior Ascendant

This book has been ready for some time now but I didn’t want to release it until book 5 was nearly done and on the horizon. This one will be available this month and book 5 will be available early next year.

Here is a brief synopsis:

The Wheel has unleashed the Kriyas. Creatures of fearsome power that devour life-force. They have been set on a path to destroy anyone who stands in the way of recovering the three foci, weapons of immense power. Dante, having undone the searing must now locate the third foci, Shadowstrike, the only weapon powerful enough to stand against Maelstrom and Lucius.

From his prison in the forgotten plane, Lucius now with the power of Maelstrom has been patiently restoring the connection to the Nexus. One more weapon will complete the bridge. Once restored every plane will be in danger of destruction. Dante, together with Sylk and Meja, return to the Akashic Records. There they will seek to uncover the identity of The Wheel. Will they find Shadowstrike, stop the Kriyas, and prevent Lucius from escaping?

Writing this book was quite a challenge and the last book (book 5) has been exciting to write. The Warriors of the Way series spans 3 years of my life. I hope you enjoy it. I’m on to another project that is a departure from this type of story. Its a little darker but it has been bouncing in my head for a long time now.  The only thing I can say about it now is that its a mystery and the protagonist is a mystic. More to come soon!

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Dont strand yourself-Connect to others-Find a tribe

island
island

Its possible you have heard some of these:

In order to be a writer you must struggle ALONE in obscurity.

There is no way you can write while surrounded by other writers or artists.

Writing forces you to be disconnected and its better that way.

A writer can only truly depend on themselves, no ones knows you like you.

I’m sure there are countless others and I’m here to tell you that its false. Actually I believed this and worse for a long time while I wrote and struggled to identify as a writer. Then I realized, if I am going through this other writers must be going through the same thing. It wasn’t an epiphany, but it was close. So I started to look around and found groups of writers who band together to write or offer support.

There are teachers who will share  their experiences( Julia Cameron comes to mind with  one of my favorite writing book:

The Right to Write http://juliacameronlive.com/books-by-julia/the-right-to-write/

as does Stephen King’s On Writing
http://www.stephenking.com/library/nonfiction/on_writing:_a_memoir_of_the_craft.html)

If you haven’t picked up these books please do. They will motivate you and give you a glimpse of what it means to write.

Another great source I have found recently ( OK I’m slow to this) are blogs. There are countless writing blogs in existence but I have found quite a few excellent ones, here are some:

http://terribleminds.com/ -Blogged by Chuck Wendig who is an excellent writer with a very unique sense of humor. On occasion he has guest writers which make for great reading and plenty of useful information.

http://goinswriter.com/– Blogged by Jeff Goins. A very good blog filled with down to earth inspiration and motivation.

He also wrote(among others):
The Writers Manifesto
(http://www.amazon.com/The-Writers-Manifesto-Jeff-Goins-ebook/dp/B00595KCBI)

Its a fast read, but a very profound call to action. If you haven’t embraced your calling as a writer this book will spur you to answer that call. Look up Jeff he has some great books that will transform  your view on writing..

I also recently joined an online writers group you can find them here:

http://www.rockyourwriting.com/

This site is run by Cathy Yardley and she has great resources for writers.

There are many more that I will share with you over time, but ideally the key is to go out and connect with others, writers, readers, bloggers, agents, publishers-Basically anyone who loves using words to express themselves. Go find them. Stop thinking you need to be alone to be a writer- I thought that for a long time and its not true. Join a writers club. Find a place where writes converge, online and off.
In NY we have a few writing cafes that are excellent places to meet fellow writers. Find the one that suits you or create one.
The key is not to be alone in this adventure we call writing.

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Write It

quill
quill

On my window sill beside my desk I have no less than ten books on writing your first novel. This is not including the numerous articles I have on my hard drives. Included in this list are  a few must haves –  Larry Brooks Story Engineering ,Story Physics, and Story Fix, Strunk and White- Elements of Style travels with me everywhere. so does Stephen King-On Writing. The others while good reads- (and think about this, being a writer reading about writing has to be the epitome of procrastination) did not really further my writing or prompt me to write any faster. Now don’t misunderstand, I am all for learning and honing our craft of word smithing. Many times that takes reading and learning and studying. However the best way I have found to get better at writing is-writing. So why do I have more than ten books on writing staring at me everyday?  Well I bought those books before my first book was published and it was really a way to feel like I was progressing in my book without actually having to write. In other words it was busy work, but not real work not writing. Very similar to shifting those papers around from one side of the desk to another but not really doing anything about them.

So here is my advice: Just write it- already.
You want to become better as a writer you have to write, a lot.
You want to become a published writer? It wont happen just thinking about it, only you can write your story.
By all means hone your craft, learn as much as possible. Read the books on writing, get the style guides. Just understand that at the end of the day none of that can replace your voice on a page.

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Story Fix by Larry Brooks

Story Fix
Story Fix

As a writer I am always working on perfecting my ability at the craft of writing. In order to do this every crafts-person needs tools. Larry Brooks has once again provided an excellent tool to improve the craft of writing. I am currently reading Story Fix and it is indispensable in my library of writing books. This is a book I will read, reread and use often in my pursuit of excellence in my writing craft. I highly recommend this book along with Story Physics and Story Engineering also by Larry Brooks.

Here is a short synopsis of book:

Reinvigorate Your Fiction!

You’ve written the first draft of your novel or screenplay, and you’ve released it into the world: to your critique group, to your most trusted beta readers, or even to an agent or an editor. But something’s wrong. You’re not getting the glowing response you had expected, or you might have even received a rejection. Your story is getting a “Meh…” when you had hoped for an “Amazing!”

But have no fear–the piece you’ve sweated and bled over isn’t dead on arrival. It just needs fixing.

Story Fix is the answer to your revision needs. With practical techniques from critically acclaimed author and story coach Larry Brooks, you will learn how to:

  • Develop a story-fixing mind-set
  • Navigate the two essential realms of revision: story and execution
  • Evaluate your novel or screenplay against twelve crucial storytelling elements and essences.
  • Strengthen your concept and premise.
  • Punch up the dramatic tension, pacing, thematic weight, characterization, and more.
  • Align your story with proven structural principles.

Filled with candid advice on the realities of the publishing world and helpful case studies of real authors who fixed their own stories, Story Fix isn’t just about revision–it’s about resurrection. Infuse your fiction with a much-needed jolt of electricity, and bring it back to life.

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A journey into creative warriorship