Tuesday, March 27, 2018

March Wrap-Up a Few Days Early ...

March has been a busy, busy, busy, busy ... (etc) month.

Grad School
I finished my first two-credit course and started my second course! It's been a confidence builder and I have finally remembered that I enjoy learning. For my final project, I need to create a short 8-10 hour course of study. Believe it or not, I'm already looking ahead to that since some of the course work I am doing now leads into it.

I am considering writing/creating a course of study for novelists who would like to strengthen their short story writing skills. Would you be interested? If so, please comment or e-mail me at tyreantigger (at) gmail (dot) com

The course would be free to anyone who would be willing to sign up as my students (lab rats) and I would need feedback on various parts of the course.

Or, I might design a course for my church, or for homeschool students on summer "break."

Comments and feedback on these ideas would be welcome.

Lenten Reading Journey
I'm going to cram in the rest of LOTR by Friday night and I'm in a good place to finish 1 and 2 Samuel, Psalms, and John by the end of the 31st.
The Chronicles of Narnia and The Narnian are going to go into my April reads pile.

Diet and Exercise
Down and up, I go. I am walking between 0 and 5 miles each day, it really depends on the day. I usually get in three to four good walks a week. The diet, well, I reverted to old habits, and then restarted again. I am still doing better than last year.


IWSG NEWS! 
Please welcome Shannon Lawrence as the new IWSG admin!
Also, if you are into Instagram, here's a preview of IWSG in April:



BOOKS AND MOVIES THAT IMPACTED ME IN MARCH
Corners by Corrina Austin is my favorite read of the year so far. I didn't expect to love it so much, but Davy and Ellis filled up a dusty corner of my heart with their character growth and their actions. I was impressed by Austin's ability to flesh out in-depth characters, provide a mosaic of details, and create a plot that moved me to laughter and tears. At the end, I just smiled and knew I had to recommend it to friends. Do not let the Middle Grade designation fool you - this book is a good book for all ages.

Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner is a fast-paced scifi for YA readers (and anyone who likes YA themes) in which three teens race to decode messages from the future so they can stop an apocalypse. Success isn't guaranteed, especially since at first they don't understand the code beyond winning the lottery. I originally checked it out from the library because I wanted to read more fiction from New Zealand (one of my characters is from there in my current WIP) and I really enjoyed this fast-paced adventure.

I read Dragonsong for the first time in ninth grade and it made my soul soar at the time. This time, on my seventh-ish re-read, I realized that McCaffrey managed to suck me into the story despite doing a lot of telling, as well as showing. I was surprised to see that and I started re-thinking some of that show vs. tell wisdom. When is it okay to tell?


We re-watched Thor: Ragnorak after purchasing it, and oddly, my youngest loved it more the second time, whereas I loved certain parts more than the whole. I'm sure we'll watch it again a few more times this year ... because we watch movies like that. (Spiderman: Homecoming on DVD has been watched at least 4 times since we brought it home at Christmas.) I am still on my superhero movie kick, trying to both watch the movies for fun and watch them as a writer studying the craft of storytelling. 

If you are under 17 or you find nudity offensive, don't watch this movie (this is a warning to any of my students who may happen to read this post). I did have a "another nudity moment?" kind of reaction a few times and a "only women are nude?" reaction a few times. I think if we truly have the kind of society presented in this movie, then it will actually probably be far worse and more universal. However, if you've seen the original (like I have) and if you love scifi and the way that Philip K. Dick (author of the original book) purposefully blows our minds and makes us uncomfortable at the same time in his stories, then you will love this movie. It's both a thought-provoking drama and an action flick. It's also three hours long. We watched it in two sittings and discussed it during and afterwards. We like discussing movies anyway, and Blade Runner 2049 gave us lots of weighty stuff to consider. 

For those who might wonder how I can be a Christian and watch these kinds of movies, I invite you to read the whole Bible including the book of Judges. Think of how terrible our world can be (and is, and was) and then consider how stories and movies which show both a slippery slope of complacency and some absolute nastiness can actually help us realize how much we need Jesus. Really, movies like this are just a full-in-our-faces look at how awful things could be (and unfortunately are - consider human trafficking, refugee camps, and random violence). Books and movies that don't shy away from this can help us process what we see around us and stir us off our complacent backsides to consider changing the world with our actions. 
(I'm talking about my own complacency issues, too.)


For a way to change the world one small corner at a time, check out Corrina Austin's Corners - seriously, go get it now and read it for some actionable ideas on spreading kindness, love, and change.


So, what have you read or watched that impacted you lately? And, would you be interested on taking part in an instructional design experimental course in short story writing? 

Monday, March 19, 2018

#Interview with Author Jay Chalk, Revolution 2050


Please welcome Jay Chalk, author of Revolution 2050

Jay is a writer and fan of dystopian scifi and the author of the new Revolution 2050. (See my blurb-length review at the end).

Author Links: Twitter  Facebook

Q1. You are thrown into your favorite story (not your own).  Which story and who would you be?

A. I would be Jake Grafton in Stephen Coonts’s Flight of the Intruder.   My love for flying aside, Grafton, a naval aviator, goes through insightful, mental anguish when it hits him that he and his fellow pilots are nothing but sacrificial pawns in a highly politicized Vietnam War.  My novel’s protagonist, Sam Moore, in Revolution 2050, is gripped with the same desperate realization as a member of a political party of terror, but with a different outcome.  Thrown into Jake Grafton’s boots would most definitely test my personal inner strength and integrity.


Q2. What is your biggest challenge/insecurity in your writing life and how do you overcome it?

A.  This will probably sound overused and vanilla, but my biggest challenge is getting my characters’ emotions from the visual to the written; getting their thoughts, feelings and responses onto paper.  As far as insecurity as a writer—I never overcome it.  I’m always worried that I screwed something up somewhere and that my work ends up as only a caricature of itself.

Tyrean: We all feel that way, don't we?

Q3. What’s your favorite part of writing (brainstorming, world-building, rough draft writing, editing)?

A. My favorite part of writing is while I’m writing, I discover that I’m onto something special and I can’t get the words down fast enough.  To use a cliché, “it just flows,” or “in the zone.”  My second favorite part is the beer afterwards.   

Q4. When and where do you write?  How did you discover that was best for you?

A. I write at a desk in one corner of my living room, with a nice outside view of the East Texas forest—and with all the remotes and phone within arm’s reach.  This might sound strange, but I actually use a desktop computer (gasp)—I don’t even own a laptop (more gasps).  When I’m not teaching, and the writing bug has hit, I’ll start before sunup with black coffee so strong it could melt a metal spoon.  No sissy coffees here.  And I go from there.  Like most debut authors, I still have a full-time day job.  Any free time I can squeeze out to sit down at the keyboard at home, I savor it.  I’m a blue-collar writer.

Tyrean: Blue-collar writers rock! 

Q5. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?  Why that?

A. I posed that question to one of my high school classes.  The girls gave various answers, but the guys unanimously said “x-ray vision.”  If I could have one superpower, it would be the power to fly unaided.  As a pilot, I’m in a cocoon of aluminum with gauges, gadgets and screens, just to get from point A to point B.  And yet the view is still breathtaking.  To just will one’s self to float and move in any direction at any speed without the aid of a mechanical device would be the ultimate high—no pun intended.

Tyrean: That's one of my top superpower hopes, too. 

Q6. How does your faith inspire or inform your writing life and writing projects?

A. I am a Christian.  Yet I’m not consumed with religion (maybe I should be).  Still, I pray for inspiration all the time.  And I usually receive it, but to me, in the most unusual ways.  If my writing is successful, and by successful I mean opening people’s eyes, I have no one to thank for mission accomplished except the Lord.  Every one of my works has what some call a “supernatural” event occur.  I don’t think of it as supernatural at all.  It’s divine intervention.

Q7. So, how did you discover the idea for your book, Revolution 2050?  (Or what led you to start the book?)

A. All I have to do is listen to or watch the “news” and the media’s reaction.  I’m also a student of history.  Events that are happening now, not only in our country, but also across the world, have happened before—and almost always with the same outcome.  Society’s slow inculcation into a Godless ideology, such as in the Soviet Union or in Mao’s China, or today, in North Korea, is nothing new.  Only the names and places have changed.  Some have compared Revolution 2050 to Orwell’s 1984.  For me to even be mentioned in the same sentence as Orwell is an undeserved honor.  While there are some elements of 1984 in the novel, a lot of the work is actually based on historical facts.  The former president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, in his book, Open Letters, describes life as a dissident in Soviet controlled Czechoslovakia.  Life in Cold War Czechoslovakia, while not quite as harsh as in the Soviet Union or Hitler’s Germany, was nonetheless charging headlong that way; it was a police state.  And I saw early steps heading in that direction here in the United States when I began Revolution 2050.      
Tyrean: Thanks for all of your thoughtful answers, Jay!


Official Book Blurb:
Samuel Moore is living a dystopian lie…

After a civil war, the North American Commonwealth now dominates the eastern half of the former United States. Controlled by a totalitarian regime called the Directorate, the NAC demands compliance, awareness, and unity. A Directorate member and teacher, Sam enjoys the benefits while skirting the forbidden.

Then Sam encounters Katie Spencer. She sneaks him a short wave radio and he hears the Western Alliance broadcasts. Katie also reveals a video she captured of NAC death camps. Sam realizes he’s involved in a nightmare that could shake every foundation.


With the video broadcast date approaching and several students desperate to escape to the Western Alliance, Sam is forced to decide. Remain loyal to the Directorate? Or abandon all he’s ever known to fight for freedom?

Tyrean's Tiny Review:
From the first chapter to the climatic, the tension in Revolution 2050 ratchets up tight as both Sam and Katie struggle to find the right path to take, the right way to fight for the rights and freedoms of themselves and those they love. Sam and Katie find themselves both drawn into a battle with high stakes, and their choices may save or sacrifice the people around them. With unexpected twists and turns, and unexpected possibilities of betrayal and reconciliation, Revolution 2050 takes a new path into the realm of dystopian thrillers. I highly recommend it!

Links:





Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March 2018 #TheIWSG and Corners


The Insecure Writer's Support Group

Why IWSG?
Alex J. Cavanaugh, the founder, noticed a lot of blog posts from writers mentioning their doubts, concerns, and lack of confidence. He also saw the positive replies they received and realized that the writing community offered an abundance of support. Writers want to see other writers succeed, which is how he came up with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This group would act as a form of therapy, letting writers post about situations where they need encouragement, or to offer words of encouragement to others if they have experience.
Co-Hosts this month: 


Marching Forward!
March is a big month for me this year. 
I started Grad school! Whoa. I'm working on an M.Ed in Instructional Design at Western Governor's University - it's an affordable, flexible, online program so it fits me where I'm at right now. 
All of the Instructional Design concepts are actually helping me see some of my writing more clearly - kind of an interesting and nice extra that I didn't expect. 
Hours I'll spend on this in March: 50+. It's a huge focus. 

Writing - prepping Ashes Burn for publication. Toying with a Writing Prompt project. Revising/Rewriting Book 1 of The Greenling Chronicles. Specifically, I want to a)get the format part done for AB, b)add a few pages to the Writing book, and c)get through chapter 10 in GC. 
Hours I'll spend on this in March: probably 30-40. 

Teaching - Make the homework clear for the rest of the year (only 10 more weeks for my homeschool students) and start prepping the celebration book - a book of student writing. 
Hours I'll spend on this in March: 40. It's one of the bigger months of concentration for this, even if I only teach in class one day a week for three hours.

Bible Study - I'm in four (four!) groups right now and I have my own personal study going on for Lent. Hours for March: 20-30.

Substitute Teaching - when I can on the "other" days. Who knows on the hours? Between actual substitute need and my days available, I only subbed one day last month. Oy. 


OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal / finish a story?

What I could do: go out for dinner, enjoy a good book, go to a movie, dance around the house, sing, shout, and jump up and down.

What I usually do: smile, occasionally dance around the house, then get back to writing. If it's a short story and I feel satisfied with it, I search out a good market for it and send it right away.  
I think I need to take my celebrations more seriously. :) 

#MARCHMADNESS ON #THEIWSG AT INSTAGRAM
Participate when you can, as often or as little as you feel comfortable.





CORNERS
By Corrina Austin


Everyone needs their own special corner...


It’s 1969 and ten-year-old Davy is in a predicament. With two weeks remaining of the summer holidays, he’s expelled from the public pool for sneaking into the deep end and almost drowning. How will he break the news to his hard-working single mother? She’s at the diner all day, Davy has no friends, and he’s too young to stay by himself.


The answer lies in his rescuer, mysterious thirteen-year-old Ellis Wynn. Visiting her Grammy for the summer, Ellis offers to babysit Davy. She teaches him about “corners”–forgotten or neglected areas fixed up special. Together, the kids tackle several “corners” and Davy learns what it means to bring joy to others.


Davy begins to wonder, though. Why does Ellis want to be his friend? Why doesn’t she ever smile? And is Davy just one of Ellis’ “corners?”


Release date - March 6, 2018
$10.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 136 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Juvenile Fiction - Boys & Men / Fiction - Coming of Age
Print ISBN 9781939844392 eBook ISBN 9781939844408
$3.99 EBook available in all formats


“Austin’s message of true friendship and selflessness will resonate

Links:

Kobo -









What do you do to celebrate achieving a goal?