Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Technical Tuesdays?

I'm thinking of starting a thing on my blog called Technical Tuesday. But I'm not sure if I should make it a thing or not, so I'm just going to try it out for a while.

What is Technical Tuesday? I'm glad you asked.

Technical Tuesday is when I answer writing technology questions. Want to add gadgets to your Blogger blog? Learn how the Document Map in Word can quickly jump between chapters? How about creating a theme for your Twitter page? Or even setting up a Facebook author page? That's what Technical Tuesdays are about.

I'm excited to try this because it combines two things I love: technology and writing. I've been programming websites and software for over 12 years, so I understand technology (and the stuff I don't understand I can learn quickly). On top of that, I've worked as a technical writer, but don't worry I'll try to keep things from getting to dry. Lastly, I love to write stories and blogs and my own journal and emails. So, with my feet firmly planted on both sides of the Writer Geek fence, I'm going to bring you Technical Tuesday.

Now's your chance. Leave a comment with your technical question(s) and I'll pick one for next week.

* Just looking at the typewriter photo made my fingers ache. Photographer: mikeymckay.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Is balance a myth?

When I hear about finding balance in life, this is what I picture:

Isn't that amazing! That's just what I imagine. All the disparate pieces of life moving in different directions, stacked precariously, then magically . . . balance. Everything just works.

If only I could find that perfect spot.

But what I've found is more like this (just the first 25 seconds):

Still amazing and almost magical, but there is one important difference. His body is always in motion. He is making thousands of small almost imperceptible adjustments.

That is more like my life. Things move. Change. I find myself out of balance and I have to make adjustments. Sometimes I'm leaning all the way to one side and have to throw my leg out in the other direction just to keep everything from crashing down.

I guess what I'm saying is that balance isn't a destination. It's an active state that requires strength and maintenance. But in those fleeting times when you achieve it . . . well, I'll let you know how that feels when I experience it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: Key of Kilenya

Action figures are cool. When I was younger I loved playing with G.I. Joe, He-Man, Transformers, and even green army men. With them I imagined all sorts of stories.

Sometimes I imagined what it would be like to be a few inches tall. My room would be huge! Climbing onto the bed would be like scaling a cliff, and getting off my desk would be dangerous indeed.

I was reminded of this dream when I read the Key of Kilenya by Andrea Pearson. I want more "small" scenes in the next book.

Review: Key of Kilenya

The story starts with a pair of wolves and ends with hideous monsters. It has sentient clouds, creatures in caves, evil forests, and shrinking. This is a fun book for teenage readers who like fantasy.

Fourteen-year-old Jacob overcomes many challenges as he travels through a strange and varied world. After a while the chapters started to feel episodic, and sometimes the story got lost. But, over all, there's enough going on to keep things interesting and it left me with many questions about the next book.

You don't have to take my word for it. You can listen to the author herself. Check out her video introducing the book. You can also buy the ebook or paperback or even pick up a signed copy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Premeditated by Ryan Hunter (Book Review)

Twitter is like a big cocktail party--groups of people in conversations. You can join or just listen in. It's also a great way to meet people with similar interests. That's how I met Ryan Hunter and discovered her book.

I followed the link in her Twitter profile and read the first page of Premeditated. It's short (less than 300 words). It's creepy and disturbing. About a teenage girl who may be a psychopath and is going to escape from prison. It left me with many questions. In short, I wanted to read it.
Premeditated by Ryan Hunter
Website: http://authorryanhunter.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @RyanHunter45
Buy on Nook or Kindle.
Premeditated is part murder mystery, part The Fugitive, and part Grand Theft Auto. The action kept me reading and the clues kept me guessing. It was a wild ride.

I liked the Southern Louisiana setting. I haven't read many books set around New Orleans and I felt this book did a good job of transporting me there without detracting from the story.

As with every debut novel, this one has its weaknesses, too. There were a few times I was pulled out of the story by a confusing detail. And, seriously? How many times can a pair of teenagers escape trained police? Still, the story strengths outweigh its weaknesses.

If you are looking for an action-packed YA adventure with interesting twists, mysterious murders, and teenagers on the run then pick up Premeditated by Ryan Hunter. Just be sure to buckle your seat belt.

* The book cover is copyright Ryan Hunter.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cooking Up a Good Story

I bet you didn't know I was a gourmet chef on the side, did you? Aaaand that's because I'm not. But that doesn't stop me from trying a new ice cream flavor or experimenting with a new recipe. I enjoy the science and art of it all. Good cooking brings double-blessings--you get to eat tasty food, and you get to watch friends and family enjoy themselves.

When I tell people I like to cook, I'm rarely asked "Are you going to be a chef someday?" Maybe I'm just not that good. Still, that's not the point. (Wait for it, the point is coming in the next paragraph.)

I bet you knew I'm a writer. I like to write YA Fantasy novels. I'm trying my hand at shorter stories, but I tend to end up writing the longer form. I enjoy creating places populated with interesting characters who get put through the ringer and topping it off with a dash of magic.

When I share this with others I'm almost always asked, "Do you want to be an author?" If the person asking isn't a writer, it's an easy answer, "I enjoy writing, and I'm working on being published." If the person is a writer, the answer is much harder.

See, I view writing much the same way I view cooking. It's my hobby. And just like cooking, one of my creations can't reach its full potential until someone else enjoys it. This means I'm working to publish my stories. Which, technically, makes me an author, but the title Author has a lot more to it. Just like the title Chef.

My goals are simple: I will write stories to the best of my ability. I will work with other professionals (writers, artists, marketers, editors, etc) to make my works high-quality. I will share my works so others can enjoy them or not. Then I will take all that I've learned and repeat. I don't dream of being a full-time author. In fact, I don't know if I would enjoy it as much if there were external deadlines and pressure.

Here's my question to you, gentle reader. If that last paragraph were about cooking I'd get all nods and smiles, but since it's about writing . . . why do I feel my writer friends look at me like I have three heads?  I know many writers dream of making it big and living off their writing. I think that's a respectable goal. I also think that in today's age of ePublishing there is room for the hobby novelist as well.

What do you think?

* BBQ Chicken "Wings" picture is was taken by me at my dinner table before they all disappeared. See? I can cook.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Tortoise, the Hare, and a Fish

In high school I thought I was busy,
then I went to college.
In college I thought I was busy,
then I got married.
As a husband I thought I was busy,
then we had children.
And now, years later, after our last child moved out leaving my wife and me alone,
I realized something.
When the children were home I thought I was busy,
and I really was busy then.
Keith Newman

I love the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. You have the naturally gifted, full of himself, over-confident Hare racing the diligent, plodding, focused Tortoise.

I've often wondered why the Tortoise gets all the attention. Perhaps it's because we like winners? Or because we, as a culture, cheer for the underdog and relish when the big, bad, tough-guy gets his due.

I think the Hare deserves some attention too, because if he learned his lesson he'd win the next race, and the next, and the next. It's not that the Hare wasn't used to running. He ran all the time--blazing fast. The Hare wasn't used to the distance, and he didn't know how to ignore distractions.

If we look at ourselves closely, I think we're the Hare. I'd be willing to bet that there's something you are passionate about. You were drawn to this because you have it in you to run fast.

Going slow won't win the race. The key is to keep going. Sure, that may mean slowing your pace, but it also means you'll have to push yourself to do things you've never done before. If you're motivated to do something, do it as fast and as good as you can.

I'm reminded of another story animal--a fish who was "built for speed". She was sleek and fast and gave great and memorable advice, "Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim." (Now, you're gonna have that song stuck in your head all day.)

* Tortoise and Hare picture is in the public domain. I found it through wikipedia.
Creative Commons LicenseUnless otherwise noted, all posts on the John Waverly blog by John Waverly are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
* Background image based on Night Sky theme by Ray Creations