Cool as Katniss is, I think she'd be a bit too crazy for me. Plus I gotta go with the book girl, even if she is a bit pretentious about it. Hermione.
maine character says: Your bio says you were a software engineer. Which OS do you prefer, what software do you use for your writing, and can you hack me a ticket to the Super Bowl?
I was a software engineer. I've worked on every OS that matters (okay, that's not true; I've never worked on Haiku, for example). Mac OS is the prettiest and most fun to use. Linux is the cheapest and most versatile. But Windows always wins out as a compromise between price and pretty.
For writing, I'm content with my archaic combination of MS Word, Notepad, and actual paper (the latter usually for maps).
And lastly, if by "hack" you mean "sell you one I got off of e-Bay," then sure!
Matthew MacNish asks: Have you seen Eden of the East? It's an Anime my daughter got me into recently.
I have not. Though the premise looks interesting. Is it good and can I (legally) stream it online?
Myrna Foster asks: Do you raise any of your own food?
Um, sort of. We share land with our friend who is much better at the whole growing-stuff-to-eat-it thing. The only food I really use from our yard is holy basil which, honestly, looks and acts exactly like a weed, except delicious.
Erik Winter asks: What about your day-to-day will change if Air Pirates becomes a massive success?
Is it sad that I think about this all the time? I want to say, "Very little." Taking care of all these halflings is more than a full-time job already, and I can't/don't want to step it down much. On the other hand, the internet has proven AWESOME for connecting with people, and a lot of the halflings will start school in the next year or two. We'll see. I'll work on a "regular" success first though, and build up from there.
"Anonymous" asks: Where are you taking your wife on your date next week?
I'm thinking Coach's Pizza, where maybe we can watch season 2 of The LXD. Sound good, Beautiful?
Boy that's going to be awkward if you're not who I think you are.
K. Marie Criddle asks: Of all the Joss Whedon ladies out there, which one would frighten you the most if you crossed her the wrong way?
Myrna Foster! Congratulations, Myrna. E-mail me with an address and preferred edition (hardback, Kindle, Nook book, etc), and I will get your copy of INCARNATE to you, post-haste!
The rest of you: go buy your own!
Also IT'S QUESTION TIME! Ask me anything you want in the comments -- serious or silly, professional or totally inappropriate, about writing or Thailand or who would win in a fight between the Emperor and the Lord Marshal. Seriously, WHATEVER. They will be answered next week.
For example: "Q: Adam, who were the other finalists in the giveaway?"
A: I'm glad you asked! Here they are:
- "What kind of defense mechanism is this? A giant cat comes and we turn into YARN?" -- K.D.Aziz
- "Ninja Cat skill #2: camouflage." -- Lori M Lee
- "I've got him! Run, run, run!" -- Angela Brown
- "The humans told me yarn was for playing. The humans lied." -- Lexie B.
- "It's on my back, isn't it?" -- Myrna Foster
Your task (assuming you like the story, of course) is to go to this thread on the BCS forums and vote for "Pawn's Gambit" to appear in their Year Two anthology. And next time you need an internet vote for something, I'll vote for you too.
(There are lots of other stories you can vote for in addition to mine (you're allowed up to 5). Beneath Ceaseless Skies is easily my favorite fantasy mag (all the more for being free), and it's worth clicking through to read the other stories.)
Now, TO THE QUESTIONS!
Jodi Meadows says: Your Q&A comes with sound effects: how much input do you have in that aspect of your videos? Can you request certain sound effects?
My sound effects team is not the easiest to work with. She only takes on projects she's interested in and rarely takes creative input. And if her mommy's around, she refuses to do any work at all.
Despite all that, she's one of the best in the business. After all, she was raised by sound effects masters:
Susan Quinn asks: When are you going to start writing for children? You have a massive built in critique group. :)
I don't know if I can trust my critique group. They still pick Garfield the Easter Bunny for bedtime reading (if I forget to hide it). I do, however, have an idea for an ABC book that includes "A is for Airship" and "Z is for Zombie." If I could illustrate it, I think they'd really like it.
Dave asks: If you could fight anyone from history, who would it be?
Man, I don't know. Why would I fight someone? Cuz it's cool? Cuz I hate them and want to beat them up? Cuz I want to learn something?
See, I'm pretty sure if I fought someone, I'd lose (unless I'm fighting a five-year-old, but then why am I beating up a five-year-old?). Does growing up in a dojo and sparring with other ninjas count? Maybe I could do that.
Deniz Bevan asks: Where or when would you vacation if money and time were no object?
My wife and I really, really, really want to go to Italy someday. And maybe Paris. I think we could pull together the money, but the real issue is the ten kids we'd be leaving behind (or worse, dragging along behind us...man, that would be terrifying).
The funny thing is, I think both of us want to visit those places because of the food.
C Ann Golden asks: If you could be any superhero who would you be and why?
That's a really tough question for someone like me. I want to spend weeks researching all the different superheroes and their powers, then write a thesis about it. (That's only partially true. I actually just want to read a lot of comic books).
He's probably on my mind because of the movie, but as a kid I always liked Green Lantern. He seemed so cool because he could do ANYTHING. Though I have to admit having your weakness be "the color yellow" is kinda lame.
David Jace asks: If you could become any animal (and turn back) what animal would it be?
A seagull. No seriously, check this out: I could fly, live near the ocean, have no natural predators, and feed on a diet of sushi and beach BBQs. IT'S THE PERFECT ANIMAL!
That's it! Thank you for your questions (seriously, one time nobody asked any questions and I cried for a week (okay, so I didn't cry)), and don't forget to vote for "Pawn's Gambit"!
And because I hate leaving you with nothing on a Friday, here's a peek at what it looks like when I'm reading your comments and blogs.
I can't say I approve of Jiraiya's choice of hobbies or Kabuto's choice of employer, though they are both pretty powerful. But any way I look at it, Jiraiya's got one thing going for him that Kabuto doesn't. Sage Mode:
Susan Kaye Quinn asks: Favored platform: Mac or PC?
I would love a Mac. Thank you for offering.
Every time I buy a new computer, I have to make this decision, and it always comes down to the same thing: Macs are expensive, and PCs have all the open source software I want.
Preferred literary success: Bestseller or Hugo?
Oy. Fine, if I have to choose, I go with the one that gets more readers: bestseller.
Apocalypse: Super virus or sentient computers?
Neither. The world is destroyed by robot pirates and zombie ninjas (also dinosaurs).
Awesomeness: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?
For the purposes of this exercise, we will pretend George Lucas stopped fiddling with Star Wars in 1983. With that in mind, the most awesome trilogy ever is ISTHATSAMUELL.JACKSONINANICKFURYMOVIEZOMGITIS!!!
Caped Guy: Batman or Superman?
Batman, hands down. Did you know he has a file on every superhero's weakness, just in case he ever has to fight them? The guy's a genius.
Asea asks: What's your favorite local food?
Market food: fried pork and bananas, dim sum and pork dumplings, chicken satay, rotee, fried potatoes... (Hm, just got a Mary Poppin's song stuck in my head).
If your characters (from your various WIPs) were caught in a zombie apocalypse, would they make it?
Heh. Hagai would be the first to go, though Sam and Ren might last a while (good fighters, and I bet the zombies would have a hard time storming their airship). Suriya, on the other hand, should have no problem. She has a tendency to blow things up when she's mad.
Do you ever make up your own board/card games? How about twists to existing ones? Do you play games in combination (e.g. you play Monopoly, and the profits from it fund expansion in Puerto Rico)?
Before I focused my creative energies on getting published, I designed games all the time. As for twisting existing ones, we don't do it often (I tend to assume the game balancers did their job well), but we do it to our most familiar games. We've played Settlers with a blind setup (i.e. flip the numbers over after you place your settlements) or with a 12-sided die, and we once played Ticket to Ride: World Domination, in which we combined a board of regular TtR and TtR:Europe. I don't like Monopoly much, but I love your combination example. Sounds like it would be fun for a tournament or a gaming marathon.
Thanks again for your questions and for putting up with my answers. Don't forget our special guest artist on Friday!
You guys asked some fantastic questions! I'll be answering some today, some Wednesday, and on Friday we have a double sketch featuring a very special guest artist. Now, to the questions!
An anonymous visitor from Natalie's blog asks: Can I ask what your main profession is?
Believe it or not, the "About Me" description over there is pretty much it: I write and I foster kids. My wife and I have a heart to give a family to kids with nowhere else to go, and most of our income comes from folks who support that mission (though obviously I'd love it if writing could help with that!). In my previous incarnations, I programmed computers, led Christian worship, and developed computer games.
Yeah, I don't see the connection either.
Advice for people who did not study writing or English or anything related to that in university...and struggling on how to really "start". Is there a method?
Ha! As you might have guessed, I studied Computer Science in college, not English. I think I wrote a total of ten papers--none fiction--and I haven't read a novel for a class since I graduated high school. So no, I don't think a formal education is necessary at all to write good fiction.
Here's what I do instead:
- Get and give critiques.
And I'd love to know what a typical "day" or daily schedule is like for you (how you fit in work, writing, reading, eating, etc).
Yeah, I'd love to know how I fit all that in too.
Seriously, most days kinda look like this:
- Wake up (or get woken up) about 6 am.
- Get boys fed, girls ready for school, etc.
- Check e-mail and the rest of the internet.
- Write (my wife teaches the boys, and a helper takes care of the baby for a couple of hours).
- From about 11 am - 4 pm: watch/play with the boys, keep the baby happy, clean the house, fix the house, and (if possible) write blog posts, critique manuscripts, and maybe read or draw.
- Pick up the girls from school.
- Repeat #5 until bedtime.
- Bust out Secret Snacks. Watch So You Think You Can Dance until unconscious.
- Wake up.
- Check e-mail.
- Play Agricola.
- Eat bacon and ham sandwiches.
- Visit Lutiya's school.
- Play Agricola.
- Write blog post.
- Pick up girls.
- Play Agricola.
- Pass out.
Myrna Foster asks: Have you written a ninja story?
Sadly, no. I've got ideas for one, but it still feels too much like Batman Begins (which I guess isn't a bad thing). Later this year, I expect to choose a new project. We'll see if the ninjas make the cut.
How many children are you guys raising at the moment?
Nine. And we're in the process of adopting a tenth. This is what we look like now (click to enlarge):
More answers on Wednesday!
The rules are simple. Put your questions in the comments. You may ask anything you like, serious or silly, professional or totally inappropriate. I'll answer all of them as best I can and may even do so honestly!
You may, if you like, review old questions and answers, but it's not required. Part of thinking like a pro means realizing some questions will be asked repeatedly. I'm okay with that. Ask away!
And just to keep things fair, here's a question for you, devised by one of my most devious Irish friends:
Today's topic is a little tougher than having tea with Gandalf though, but I think it's important. See, I'm aware that a lot of the blogs I read are written by quiet Christians, quiet Mormons, and more. Their faith is a large part of who they are, but they don't talk about it online, just like I don't. There are many, many good reasons for this, but just once I'd like to tell you what I believe, and hear what you believe, about this crazy existence we're all stuck together in. (For the purpose of this post, atheism totally counts by the way).
Some ground rules:
- This is NOT about converting people. The point is to learn about each other, not to prove a point.
- Likewise, this is NOT about who is right or wrong. Please don't put people on the defensive about their faith (and if I do so without realizing, please tell me).
- DON'T be a meanie head. Nasty comments will be summarily destroyed.
Here are some questions to help voice your thoughts. Feel free to use them or skip them as you want.
- What is your religion (just the label here)?
- What's one important way your personal belief differs from what people normally think of when they think of that label?
- How does your personal belief impact your daily life?
- Most religions agree that the world sucks: people are hurt, get sick, die. How does your personal belief address that?
- Why do you believe what you believe?
- Anything else you'd like to share about your beliefs?
And my answers:
- Christian (non-denominational Protestant, I guess).
- I'm not your stereotypical conservative (not conservative at all, actually). I don't froth over the mouth about issues like gay marriage, for example. I tend to believe that loving people is more important than making them follow "the rules."
- Little ways: I go to church. I teach my kids to love Jesus. I read the Bible and pray most days. Big ways: I believe God called my wife and I here to Thailand to do what we do.
- Short, short answer is that I think it's a combination of sin and free will. That is, God gave us life and the ability to do what we want with it, and a lot of us (all of us, really) have screwed it up. I have a slightly more in-depth answer here, if you're interested.
- For years, I was Christian just because that's what I knew. I grew up in the church, a Christian family, everything. When I left home, I realized I had to decide for myself if this was my religion or just my parents'. Over the years since, I feel like God has proven himself to me in a number of ways, to the point where I trust him.
- I really think the most important thing is to love God and love people, not beat people over the head with their sin (nor make laws so we can punish them for it, for that matter). Beyond that, there's still a lot I'm trying to work out for myself.
I know this is scary (it is for me), but I do really, really want to both share what I believe and know what you believe. We put on these internet personas that are really only part of who we are. Sometimes I want to know the whole person, you know?
Likewise, I understand if you need to protect your internet persona by NOT talking about this. That's okay too. Feel free to say as much or as little as you like.
So I'm devoting my three posts this week to getting to know YOU -- in serious ways, funny ways, and maybe even potentially uncomfortable ways (don't worry, you won't have to play if you don't want to). While I'm exceedingly happy to hear from my regular commenters, I'd love LOVE to hear from folks who read but don't normally comment (commonly called lurkers). I swear, you'll never have to comment again if you don't want. But if you just let me know once this week that, yes, you're reading my blog, it'll make me all kinds of happy. Even more so if I get to learn a little bit about you.
So today it's question and answer time for you. Feel free to skip questions you don't have an answer for. Post your answers in the comments (I will too--shouldn't this go both ways after all?):
- Where are you from?
- Favorite genre to read?
- Favorite genre to write (if you're into that sort of thing)?
- Which Star Wars character would you be?
- Best book you've read in the last 6 months?
- Gandalf the Grey stops in for a cup of tea. What do you talk about?
- Name up to 5 favorite movies.
- Your pirate crew/ninja clan/former employer has given you the Black Spot. What do you do about it?
* Though 100 is really only magic in base ten. 97 is actually better: a palindrome in octal, the beginning of the lowercase characters in ASCII, the number of characters that can be typed on a standard English keyboard, and the seventh happy prime. (And really, how can you go wrong with something called a "happy prime"?).
A lot, actually. Except for the polluted hot season, it's beautiful. I love the rain, so the hundred million inches we get in the rainy season are actually pretty cool. The food is good. Everything is cheap. And there's not this underlying cultural pressure to PRODUCE, PRODUCE, PRODUCE! (That last one probably contributes to Thailand's weaker economy, but whatever).
Is reverse culture shock hard? (I struggle with it a lot.)
Sometimes it's hard, though it's probably made easier by the fact that I know I (most likely) won't be living there again. I don't know how to be more specific without sounding like I'm complaining about America. I like America, but sometimes it can be a bit overbearing about safety or how kids are raised, while at the same time not caring so much about what gets shown on TV (though that last one's not very fair; TV drives me batty in general).
Our friends, Aaron and Carrien Blue, are helping an orphanage near the Burmese border. The kids there are refugee orphans, whose parents have been lost or killed as a result of the genocide and fighting that has been going on in Burma for decades.
They have about 40 kids, but no truck. The kids have to walk to school everyday, about 3-4 miles on a fairly large street. If someone gets sick or hurt, they have to hire a truck to take them to the hospital, spending money which could be better spent on things like food, water, or medical bills.
So the Blues are trying to raise $6000 by the end of this week, so that when Aaron comes to visit he can buy them a truck as well. To that end, Carrien is giving away a bunch of cool stuff on her blog to anyone who donates or spreads the word.
Last I heard, they were at $3,280, which is AWESOME, but they still have a long way to go. This is a really great cause, guys. These kids are at risk in all kinds of ways, but giving them a home and education reduces that risk significantly. And a truck is a big help to that end.
So get over there. Any donation, any word spreading, will help these kids.
UPDATE: They're up to $4,519 now, and Carrien has added additional prizes to the giveaway. If you've already entered, you're eligible for these new prizes as well. If not, what the heck are you doing, get over there!
* Who, I'm obligated to point out, is not Carrie Kei Heim Binas.
I hate it. But I think I know how to deal with it.
For the purposes of this post, writer's block is any time you should be writing, but aren't (i.e. you set aside the time, opened your Word Doc, sent out an #amwriting tweet... but zero words are coming out). Take, for example, my word count spreadsheet from a month ago:
It says I was "planning" chapter 7, but that was not my intention. Even when I do plan a chapter, it's rare I don't write anything. So what happened? In this case, I was trying to get from Plot Point A to Plot Point B, but every method I thought of was weak, lame, or contrived. I couldn't find anything worth writing.
If I may generalize millions of writers into tiny boxes, I think there are two kinds of writer's block. The first is where you don't know what to write. Common causes are plot holes, poor planning, weak character development, characters stuck in impossible situations, or just a plain lack of ideas.
Everyone's different, but the way I deal with this is to GET OUT. I might talk to someone about the story, but usually I just need to do something different. Something non-creative. Walking, swimming, cleaning, yard work...whatever works (of course my wife is wondering why she doesn't see me "getting over writer's block" more often, but we won't talk about that here).
It might help to even take some time off writing, but don't do it for more than a week or two. Maybe a month in extreme cases. If you need more than that, you might have a different problem. Or you might have the second kind of writer's block: you don't really want to write.
Maybe it's laziness, lack of self-discipline, poor time management... Don't feel bad. Every writer struggles with this stuff.** Writing is a lot like exercise--it's hard to do, but you feel great once it's done. The solution to this type of block is the opposite of the first: SIT DOWN AND WRITE. Even if it's full of plot holes, contrived situations, and weak characters, getting it written down is better than not.
What about you? Do you ever get blocked? How do you get over it?
** In the 3 weeks I had in the States--a lot of which came with free babysitting--I only squeezed out 8 hours of writing. Few of them productive.
Like little, chewy babies, but you eat them!
I'm curious which PART of the CA coast-- if you're in the middle-ish, here's hoping it warms up before Fiance and I take a trip up there mid-July. If you're down south, you picked a good time to come. This is the NICE weather everyone talks about when they talk about CA. :)
We were in Southern California (Orange County and, briefly, San Diego). So yeah, pretty much the definition of Perfect Weather.
I'm also curious why you picked Thailand?
The simple answer is because my wife Cindy is Thai. The complex answer involves mission trips, a little mysticism, and a DTR (not in that order). We could talk about it over coffee, except I don't drink coffee. (Seriously though, you can e-mail me or something if you want the longer story).
C. Michael Fontes asks: What prompted you to become foster parents in Thailand?
The short answer to this one is the mysticism: God called us. The less short answer: Cindy's had a heart for orphans since she was young. When we decided to be overseas missionaries, we had a vague idea of running an orphanage/planting a church in whatever country we ended up in. But after we got here, that all kind of changed.
Emmet asks: In a no-holds-barred fight who would you rather be, the Emperor or the Lord Marshal (obviously the answer is Riddick, but other than that)?
Let's take a look:
The Emperor's prescience pretty much cancels out the Lord Marshal's coolest abilities. Plus, you know, it's not like he has a pretty face to protect. As long as Darth Vader's not around, I gotta go with Palpatine.
Anica is a great name, but if there had been no vetoing process (Cindy), what would have been on her birth certificate?
The only girl names I tried to push were Anica and Serenity (the latter being your suggestion, as I recall). But if I'd had a boy, and no wife to stop me, he'd be either Morpheus or Optimus Prime.
Would you rather write an amazing book (LOTR caliber) that doesn't get published until after your death, or a shite book that gets made into a bunch of movies (Twilight), and all your friends pat you on the back and say "great job" but then ridicule you on message boards around the internet, and you will have no other books to redeem yourself?
So either way my career is depressing and full of rejection? In that case, give me the movies.
Would you rather give up cheese for the rest of your life, or be a vegan for a year?
Definitely vegan. Uh... vegans can still eat bacon, right?
Bane of Anubis asks: How could you choose Aliens over Dragons? :P
[Bane is referring to being a finalist in Nathan's contest, wherein I was a total jerk and voted Josin over him.]
See, Bane, like any good American I assumed my vote didn't really matter. How was I to know you'd tie? As soon as I get my time machine working, the first thing I'm going to change is my vote, I swear.
jjdebenedictus asks: Do these jeans make my butt look big?
I can honestly say, from my point of view, they do not.
Myrna Foster asks: Do you have any other family over in Thailand?
Me? No. But Cindy's dad lives in Bangkok. She also has approximately one thousand aunts, uncles, and cousins scattered throughout the kingdom. One of them drew me a family tree once trying to explain it all. It took him like half an hour. I don't remember any of it.
What do you have in your writer's "drawer?"
You mean the stuff you'll never, ever read? Folks who've been around here a while will remember my first novel, Travelers, which got trunked after 60 straight rejections. Also before Pawn's Gambit, I wrote and submitted another Air Pirates short story to BCS, trunking it because it just wasn't working. And before that there was a short story that would eventually evolve into my current WIP, Cunning Folk. That one...is not very good at all.
Do you really own an umbrella chair?
And lastly, Carrie says: I'm relatively new to your website. I'm curious to hear on what are your thoughts in regards to writer's block.
Which I'll answer on Friday. Thank you, everyone, for your questions! I enjoyed answering them. Hopefully you enjoyed it too.
As to your questions just...well done. I'm so proud to have such curious and imaginative readers. I'll answer some today, some Wednesday, and one of them (that would be yours, Carrie) gets its own post on Friday.
Matt Delman asks: Would you like a jelly baby?
Heck. Yes. If it's gummy/chewy/not black licorice, I want it.
If the square of the hypotenuse is the same as the square of the other two sides, then what is a mouse when it splints?
Actually it's the square of the sum of the other two sides. Unless you're asking if hypothetically it weren't... In that case all 3 sides would be the same, which would mean right angles would always be 60 degrees, which would make my house only slightly less square than it already is, which of course means a mouse when it splints is slightly better than a cricket when it smokes.
Why do we drive on a parkway but park on a driveway?
Actually I drive on freeways (which are usually free) and highways (which are never high, except in Bangkok but then they are no longer free). And I have to drive on my driveway. How else am I supposed to get the car up there?
Amie McCracken asks: Besides writing and drawing what's your favorite thing to do?
Hang out with my kids. I love to talk with them, play games with them, watch movies with them, and mostly to see them grow and learn. It's aMAZing.
And, where else in the world have you been?
Not many. Evidence to the contrary, I'm not much of a world traveler. I have been to Guadalajara to visit my retired parents. And I spent a month in Kunming, China for a cultural exchange program. That trip to China was kind of where I fell in love with Asia in general.
India Drummond asks: If you had a day to yourself, and the assurance you would never get caught for anything you did, have to justify yourself, and if you wanted, no one would even know... so what would you do for those 24 hours?
I'm so boring. You've given me free reign to drive a Ferrari in the Indy 500, steal the Tower of Pisa to put in my backyard, or take a joy ride on a stealth bomber. But all I can think about is watching both seasons of Full Metal Alchemist while pigging out on various Western foods delivered to my lap.
Ricardo Bare asks: Hey Adam--have you ever read "The Edge Chronicles"?
No, but a bit of research brought up terms like steampunk, sky pirates, and sky galleons, which is no end of interesting. Let me know how they are!
Susan Kaye Quinn asks: What's the children's book that you read to your little ones so frequently that you've memorized it?
Isaac (my three year old) is the one who memorizes the books. Once he starts quoting a book over and over, I start to memorize it too. Usually the Dr. Seuss books are the culprits, being the easiest to memorize, but there's one book in particular Isaac likes: Disney's Mother Goose. I didn't take this book to the US with me, but Isaac really wanted to read it on one of his bad days. So he and I started saying as many rhymes as we could remember from it. Considering I don't even like the book, I remember a surprising amount of it.
When did you know you were an artist?
You're going to think I'm silly, but I never really thought of myself as an artist. Not until I drew this fan art for Natalie Whipple and she called me one. My little brother was always the artist, not me (he loves to say I taught him how to draw, referring to our doodles in the margins of the church bulletins on Sunday, but I never taught him this).
What's your favorite non-kid, non-writing activity?
So aside from kids (and the more predictable answers of movies, games, and anime), my favorite activity is music. Not listening, but playing. (Ironically, my brother far exceeds my skill in this too. Isn't he supposed to be in my shadow?).
The only instruments I'll claim any skill to are acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and voice. And of those, bass is my very, very favorite. Unfortunately, it's the most boring instrument in the world to play by yourself, but I get my fix at church twice a month.
Okay, I'm cutting off the answers there. I'll get to the rest of these on Wednesday.
In preparation for my return, I'm opening the floor up to questions. You may ask me any questions at all, serious or not, professional or totally inappropriate. I'll answer all of them when I come back, and I'll probably even be honest!
Now, last time I asked for questions, I got none. Zero. Other bloggers might consider that an insult, but I found it merely inconvenient. You forced me to come up with new content on my own! How dare you? If that happens again... you're all taking twenty laps around the blog, while I sit in my umbrella chair sipping lemonade.
I mean it!
Ah, but I can be devious too. Rather than write something new, I will post something I've already written but never shown you.
This is the new beginning to Air Pirates.* It's a prologue. Now, I know the taboos against prologues--I've written about them myself, after all. But I'm doing this one for good reasons (or so I tell myself): (1) to clue the reader in that Sam is a more major player than he appears at first and (2) to add tension to Hagai's trip to the post and first meeting with Sam.
Plus, it's short.
* As of draft 5, beta version 2. This is possibly the most boring footnote I've ever written.
“You’ve been here everyday for a week, mate,” said the shopkeep.
“Good stew,” Sam said, keeping his face carefully shadowed. He had thought he could say it with a straight face.
“You waiting for someone?”
Sam said nothing, just slurped his stew.
The shopkeep eyed him warily. “You ain’t a knocker are you?”
“Wouldn’t be a smart question if I were, aye?” Sam met his gaze, like a wolf eyeing a rabbit. Sometimes it was best to let folks think you were dangerous, as showing them only caused trouble. Other times – and Sam could see by the fear in the man’s eyes this was one of those times – it was best to play it friendly.
Sam smiled. “I’m just drumming you, baron. I ain’t gonna kill anyone.”
“Course.” The shopkeep laughed nervously. “But you are waiting?”
Sam slurped again. The silence stretched to discomfort, and the shopkeep soon found he had other customers to tend to.
Sam waited. He waited until the post station closed for the day then went back to his ship. When the post opened the next morning, he waited some more. That boy better show up soon, he thought.
It wasn’t that Sam was impatient. He’d waited four years for the stone; he could float a few days until this Hagai Wainwright picked up his post.
No, Sam was patient as the dead. Others less so: the Imperial Navy, Jacobin Savage… The longer Sam stayed in one place, the sooner someone would find where that place was. That’s why it was best to stay friendly. Folks talked about you less if they liked you.
“Morning,” said the shopkeep.
“Morning,” Sam replied with a smile.
“Got your pepper stew all ready.”
He dropped it on the table. Sam picked his spoon out of the spongy, boiled sludge.
That boy better show up soon.
But I do appreciate the sentiment behind the awards, and that's what this post is about. Blog awards serve two purposes: to shout-out the blogs you like and to get to know the writer you sent them to.
So first to the shout-outs. Not counting industry blogs that don't need my pimping, here are some of my favorite blogs to read:
Between Fact & Fiction, Natalie Whipple. She writes about cyborgs, ninjas, dragons, wizards, and steampunk (though no pirates yet, I notice). And she knows what she's doing. You can get great tips here and be the first to know when her agent--THE Nathan Bransford--sells her ninja story for publication (I've read it; you want to).
Free the Princess, Matt Delman. More steampunk (hm, a theme?), good writing tips, plus video games and a fun community. Check him out.
Kiersten Writes, Kiersten White. Author of soon-to-be-released Paranormalcy and very, very funny. This blog is also the home of the curmudgeonly Laptop, who makes me laugh and also want to hug him, a little.
SM Blooding and Crew. A handful of authors at various stages on the road to publication. Good writing advice and fun stories.
See Sara Write, Sara Raasch. An agented writer who DOES write about pirates. Fun to read, and exciting too as she petitions the internet so she can obtain a picture of Philip Winchester wearing an eye patch. (That hyperlink was for you, Sara. Hope it helps him find you.)
There's more, but I'm running out of space to describe them all! So brief (but no less heartfelt) shout-outs to fellow writers/bloggers/friends: Hilary Heskett, Bane of Anubis, Jodi Meadows (former slush reader), Cindy Pon (of Silver Phoenix), Susan Quinn, fairyhedgehog, and Tobias Buckell (of Sly Mongoose, among others). All of you have contributed to simultaneously speeding and delaying my journey to publication. Thank you.
And just cuz your name isn't on here doesn't mean I don't pop by your blog from time to time. I can't keep up with everything, but I will tell you that every time you leave a comment I'm tempted (and frequently succumb) to follow that link to your blog. When I do it enough, and click with what you're writing, I'll stay. I promise.
Gosh, who knew it was so hard to try to appreciate everybody?
ANYWAY, I said blog awards served two purposes, so if you've come this far with me let's get on with the second: getting to know the recipient of the award. I'm opening the floor up to questions which I will answer in future posts. Just like last time, I agree to answer all of them, however nosy, strange, or inappropriate. I agree to answer with the truth when possible (i.e. when I feel like it) and humor otherwise.
Ben asked: What is your least favorite book?
Of books I've read to the end, my least favorite is probably Tribulation Force from my least favorite series, Left Behind. It wasn't the theology that bothered me (I was actually interested in a 'what-if' of rapture theology). What bothered me was the dozens of major characters all alike, the paper cut-out villains, the huge apocalyptic moments handled in a single paragraph.
So why this book rather than one of the other 16? The title edged it out. Tribulation Force is just... not a cool name.
Ben: What is the worst thing you would do to get published with your favorite editor?
I would crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and hear the lamentations of their women.
Was that your question?
Ben: What is your favorite quality of your writing or yourself as a writer?
When I'm outlining and drafting, I love everything. When I'm getting critiques and rejections, I hate it all. I will say this: whatever anyone else thinks, I love writing air pirate dialog. It's just fun, aye?
Of course even my most critical betas said they enjoyed the way air pirates talk, so I might have just decided, after the fact, that I like it too.
Anne L. B. asked: Why do you write (other than you can't not)?
I've always loved to create stories - kindergarten make-believe, Star Wars action figures with my brothers, writing Choose-Your-Own Adventures, designing video games, GMing D&D sessions...
About 6 years ago I decided my time was too limited to do everything I wanted. I chose to focus on writing because - between making novels, board games, computer games, or movies - I thought a novel was something I could most likely complete with the skills/resources I had.
Of corollary interest, around the same time I wrote a prototype game based on the Air Pirates world. It just shows how long I've been thinking about it, I guess:
Natalie said: I've always admired what you do in Thailand. What made you want to go there and work with kids?
The short answer: God called us.
A longer answer: Cindy (who is Thai-American) wanted to run an orphanage since highschool. When I first told her I liked her, the third thing she said to me was, "If God calls me to be a missionary overseas, what will you do?" (Yeah, we were thinking long term from the start). That got missions in my head.
Years later we finally decided to "become missionaries." My original thought was to plant a church or something, but one thing after another kept putting Fatherhood on my heart. When we moved here, and started volunteering at a children's home while we learned the language, I realized being a father was all I wanted to do. It's what I was made for.
Natalie: What's your favorite Final Fantasy? Least favorite?
I've only played the big ones a little bit (meaning VII thru XI). Of the ones I have played, Crystal Chronicles is my favorite. You can't beat multiplayer RPGs, I think. Four guys on a couch in a boss fight, yelling at each other so we can get the combos timed just right... Yeah. Good times.
My least favorite was probably Final Fantasy I, not because it wasn't good, but because I recall many hours of fighting Frost Gators just to level up. On the other hand, FFI introduced me to airships.
Hilary asked: After reading the first page of my manuscript, would you want to keep reading?
Yes, largely due to the stranger (yay, tension!) and because I want an explanation for the last paragraph. I left more comments in your comments.
Hilary: When/where are you most inspired to write?
For some reason, the ocean tugs something inside me; when I see it I want to write, to create worlds. Mountains and other landscapes do it too, but nothing quite as strong as the ocean. I don't know why. It sucks that I live like 20x farther from the ocean than I've ever lived in my life.
Excellent stories also make me want to write excellent stories. Miyazaki, Cowboy Bebop, Firefly, and Naruto inspire pretty consistently (yes, most of that is anime). Though occasionally something really excellent, like say Dark Knight, just makes me think, "Man, I'll never be able to write like that."
I agree to answer all of them, however nosy, strange, or inappropriate. I agree to answer with the truth when possible** and humor otherwise. And what the heck, I agree to post at least one picture.
There. I feel better already.
* This may have something to do with critiques that are coming in now. At the moment, I don't feel like I have much to say on how to write. Don't worry. I'll get over it.
** Which, of course, means when I feel like it.