Two for One: Eragon and Scoundrels

I haven’t gotten around to reading any Crichton lately, because I really haven’t been in the mood, but I still have been doing lots of reading and I have finished two books in the last few weeks. As I’ve gotten older I noticed that I tend to go through phases with reading, I will read a lot and want to read a lot for a few months or so and then I will not read at all for a while. I’m hoping that I can make this current reading phase that I am in last longer than a few months and finish up the initial draft of my novel while I’m at it. The wife and I are doing the camp Nanowrimo in July and if I can stick with it I will make my goal of 100k words total on my novel by the end of the camp. I already have several Alpha readers lined up and I am ready to start my first of many revisions, this ball needs to keep on a’ rollin. So with that this will be a two for one blog on Eragon and Scoundrels, fair warning there will be spoilers ahead for both of these books.

First a shot from my hotel room where I recently spent a week and a half in Kona Hawaii.

View from Hilton in Kona

The epic views of the Pacific were a great setting to finish this book up and I look forward to reading the others in the series sometime soon. Overall I really enjoyed the book even though I have read many others that are set in high fantasy worlds with Dwarves, Elves, Dragons, Magic and the like. It was very much a YA fantasy novel, much in the same genre that I hope to market my own book. My book will have considerably less Dwarves, Elves, and Dragon riders. But I do plan on keeping at least some Dragons around, but there will be no riding of them allowed, maybe… Eragon is the name of the main character who, while out on a hunting trip in some mountains surrounding his tucked away little farm where he lives with his Uncle and Cousin, finds a mysterious stone that appears out of nowhere. He was looking for something to eat and not a strange glowing stone so promptly tries to trade it for a bunch of meat to help his family survive the winter. It does not go well at the butchers but the blacksmith swoops in and hooks him up in exchange for some help at the Forge over the next year. Eragon gladly accepts and heads back to his farm with the haul that will help them make it through some tough times. Everything seems to be going fairly fine until the strange rock decides to hatch one night and blammo, Eragon now has a full-fledged Dragon to look after. It grows really fast, making it hard to keep a secret and after asking the local old Curmudgeon in town about Dragons, Brom, gives him a list of all the previous Dragons names and keeps asking very pointed questions about Dragons. Eragon consults with the Dragon who he can now communicate with telepathically and they decide her name will be Saphira. Saphira is my favorite character in the book and as things keep happening at a fairly quick pace all throughout their adventures she seems to grow as a character along with Eragon of course. Lots of bad things happen very quickly, some bad guys come and kill his uncle and destroy his farm so Brom and Eragon head off after them seeking revenge. Along the way Eragon learns he can perform magic and also learns the finer points of fighting by practicing every day with Brom, he even learns how to read. Lots of other fun and interesting things happen along the way and I would greatly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, especially YA fantasy. Next up Scoundrels! But first a picture of the best beach I have ever been on, Hapuna beach on the Kona side of Hawaii.

Hapuna Beach Kona

Scoundrels is the latest Timothy Zahn Star Wars Expanded Universe novel, since Disney has taken over the Star Wars franchise they gave the EU some sort of new name but I forget what it is. This isn’t my favorite Zahn novel in the Star Wars universe but after a slow start the book really picked up for me and had a really crazy twist ending I didn’t see coming. The book is framed around a Heist, think Oceans 11 but instead of Brad Pitt and George Clooney, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian are running the show. Chewbacca along with a bunch of other characters are thrown in to liven things up and we get a little more detail on exactly how Lando came into Cloud City and what the old beef between he and Han was. There was a prequel novella included at the back of the book which I didn’t get to until about halfway through the novel, I wish I would have read it first because it really helped set things up and introduce some of the other cast that appears in Scoundrels.

I decided to pick up Justin Cronin’s The Passage after I finished Scoundrels and I have not been the least bit disappointed. It has really been hard to put down and I look forward to reading more as soon as I finish up this blog post! After that I am thinking of finishing Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy to help myself get back into the Sci-Fi writing groove. I started Camp Nanowrimo today and have about half my word goal for the day completed, I will write a little more before bed. That is all for now, I will probably update the blog next when I get the Michael Crichton Experience timeline up to speed, hopefully soon. Also I am disappointed the USA team lost to Belgium today but glad that Soccer got a little bit of the headlines I love the World Cup and I have my own personalized USA jersey to prove it!

jersey

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A Song of Ice and Fire Book 3 – A Storm of Swords and Michael Crichton Experience Update

I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more… Game of Thrones!!! I seriously can’t get enough GOT lately and just as a heads up this post will have spoilers for at least books 1-3 of A Song of Ice and Fire.

A Storm of Swords is easily my favorite book of the series so far and even though I plan on taking a break from the world of Westeros now that I have finished book 3, to focus on Crichton for a while, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the world that George R. R. Martin has created. As my wife most brilliantly said after finishing the first book “Who the fuck kills off the main character at the end of the first book, this guy has balls.” George R. R. Martin that’s fucking who. I don’t know if he is demented or what but more characters die in game of Thrones than any other series of books I can think of. When it comes to deaths in the third book there were actually quite a few that I found extremely satisfying. Joffrey, Tywin, and The Mountain come to mind, although The Mountain isn’t technically dead yet but dying from Oberonn’s poisoned spear and I am pretty sure he won’t survive. What a fight scene for Tyrion’s life after he is done with his father’s shit and demands trial by combat! I hope the show does it justice, we just finished season 3 and the wife and I are very much looking forward to season 4 which covers the rest of book 3. Then Tyrion getting his revenge on Tywin while he was in the privy was pretty epic, I liked that Martin confirmed that Tywin Lannister in fact does not shit gold, I laughed out loud during that part.

Tyrion is still my favorite character in the books and for how much I hated the Lannister’s in the first book they have grown on me some since, well Jaime and Tyrion at least. The Jaime chapters in book 3 were my favorite followed closely by John. Speaking of John the most impactful death for me in book 3 was Igret. I thought the scene when John finds her, after defending the wall from the wildling attack party that he had just escaped from after they scaled the wall, was probably my favorite scene in the books so far. My wife and I don’t really care about spoilers because it is pretty much impossible to avoid them at this point and when I was describing Igret’s death scene to her it made me choke up a little, I thought the writing was just amazing. Some other big hitters from book three that come to mind as I write this post are: Zombie Catelyn, the red and purple weddings, fuck the Frey’s, where the hell is Arya going, Littlefinger is the most devious and plotting character of all time, I’m glad Lysa Arryn is dead too bad her kid didn’t see her fly, and Stannis at the wall! There is seriously so much going on in this book I could write about it for days but I’m not George R. R. Martin, my recommendation is if you haven’t checked out Game of Thrones yet, do so it is awesome.

The wife and I are heading to Hawaii next week and I could not be more excited. I hope to get the Michael Crichton Experience timeline updated before then because I got a hold of all the mystery novels that he wrote under a pseudonym, John Lange, when they re-released them in paperback recently. I plan on doing at least some reading on the beach and a Crichton mystery novel sounds like prime beach reading material. I have also been working on my novel again, which feels awesome, and I plan on doing Camp NanoWrimo in July to get another 50k words and get closer to finishing the draft of book 1 and start revision sooner than later. I fly out to Vegas tonight for the weekend to hang out with my best friend and his wife, who I have also known forever, and see their new baby. Life is good.

I’m going to need a bigger mantle or how I figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

It has been quite a while since I posted, in fact this is my first post of 2014, but as I wrap up my final semester on my 3rd college degree I have finally figured out the answer to a question I have heard many times throughout my life. What do you want to be when you grow up? Before the age of 11 my answer would vary. I remember saying astronaut or cowboy or scientist when my grandparents would constantly ask me this question. But after the original Jurassic Park movie came out in 1993 the answer always involved Paleontologist. As I got older and went through school the Paleontology option stayed the same but I also added some stipulations, Paleontologist or Marine Biologist or Paleobotanist. It was always something to do with science, these were my favorite classes growing up, and I loved learning about nature and how things worked.

But being some sort of scientist is not what I ended up being when I got older, though my first degree does have science in the title! I have a Liberal Arts B.A. in Political Science an Associates of Applied Science in Disaster Preparedness and now my most recent degree is a Bachelor’s in Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Fitting all of these diplomas along with my wife’s B.A. in English and Master’s in English Literature on the mantle is going to take some fancy maneuvering but I already have a Facebook picture planned out in my head.

So how did I end up working at Hanford on top of millions of gallons of nuclear waste? I joined the Air Force in 2003 at the age of 21 to make myself grow up. It worked, but I quickly knew that a career in the military was not for me. I did learn valuable skills and was trained in Emergency Management in the Air Force, teaching classes and running exercises for a little over four years. I switched into the Air Guard in 2005, moved back to Boise to focus on finishing college, and met my future beautiful blushing bride in acting class my first semester back at Boise State. She was wearing a Star Wars shirt the first time I met her so it was definitely meant to be. I worked my butt off and was able to graduate in 2008, the same semester as Ellie, and after a short stint at the Census Bureau I was able to snag a job at Hanford. One of the more valuable lessons I have learned as I get older is that the old adage it’s not what you know but who you know is oh so very true.

I am just now getting back into the field of Emergency Management, recently accepting a job in the discipline again, after working at Hanford for almost five years in Operations. I am looking forward to the change and challenge of the new position, and the good sized raise that comes along with it, but I honestly can’t see myself doing this for another 30+ years. My former boss, the one who originally hired me at the Hanford site likes to ask me the question I mentioned earlier every time I go and visit her, what do you want to be when you grow up? The answer has always been I don’t know or I’m not sure or something to do with movies, which after three degrees not having anything to do with movies is probably not going to happen. But the question has been on my mind quite a bit lately after I accepted this new job to go back into a field that my background is in, and I now have two degrees in.

Ellie and I have recently been talking about what we want in the future and how we can get there; this seems to be a pretty normal conversation for people as they get older. Being the anti-social animal loving couple that we are we both agree that we want a ranch set a way from the hustle and bustle of people where we can be with the animals we love and help those animals that are in need of it. While still being close enough that the friends and family we love and want to be around can come and visit every so often, but not too often. So how do we get there, and not have it take 30 or more years to achieve? Winning the lottery really isn’t a viable option as much as I would like it to be, but working as much as I do and not enjoying it all that much, other than the nice paychecks, and having Ellie work in a job that she doesn’t particularly care for either for the next few decades doesn’t really appeal to us either.

I have always heard that if you find a job that you love to do then you will never work a day in your life. This to me has never meant that you don’t work hard but if you find something that you love doing and truly enjoy doing it then you won’t mind the tediousness of it. I think I have finally found that thing. I have always been a reader. I love to read and get lost in a story and the characters that come to life on the page. But I have never been a writer. English was never my best subject growing up, and still isn’t, I always tell people I married an English major for a reason. But since I first came up with an idea for a story and started world building on it over five years ago I have found myself unable to stop thinking about it and continue the building. I was scared when I started writing on the story several years ago, terrified actually because I have never written anything of length and I have always thought my writing kind of sucked. But once I made myself stop editing everything I wrote as I went along and just got it down on the page I found that I really enjoyed writing. I enjoyed going into a scene with an idea and then my characters reacting in a totally different way than I had originally imagined it in my head. I like that it’s hard, that it’s frustrating, and that I can’t stop thinking about things I want to change on my revisions or coming up with new ideas.

I have over 50k words down on my first book and I am going to double that at a minimum before I start my first revision and I am planning on a series of five books total. I have to pretty much carry around a notebook all the time because ideas will randomly pop up in my head at the most ridiculous times and I have to get them written down so I can revisit them later. I know I have many years to go before I will be ready to try and get my book published but I look forward to the work and relish the opportunity to work on something I am really passionate about. Even then I will have to be extremely lucky to be able to make this into my career like I want and even if I somehow get published and make a little money off of my book I more than likely won’t be able to quit my job and write full time, but that sure as hell is not going to stop me from trying.

Now that this latest degree is finished and I am hopefully finished with college forever I plan on stepping up my reading quota and writing every day. This blog will be a part of that process, but after not actually writing on my book in quite a while and focusing on getting good grades in school instead, I plan on taking the advice that I have heard repeated over and over by successful writers. In order to succeed at being a writer you must write, and you must read as much as possible, especially books in the genre you plan on being published in. So that is exactly what I am going to do. I have stacks of books just waiting for me to get lost in, 50k words written and several notebooks full of ideas, maps, and characters that I am looking forward to going through and continuing to write on. I don’t feel overwhelmed or scared by the prospect of being rejected dozens of times by publishers and agents, all authors have to go through that. I feel happy that at the age of 32 I can finally give my former boss a definitive answer to her question the next time she asks me. What do you want to be when you grow up? I’m going to be a speculative fiction writer.

Update on my Slacking

Well it has been a while since I posted, a little over 3 months I guess.  But I have been trying to keep myself busy.  I am finishing up my semester at UAF and I am looking forward to graduating next Spring.  School has definitely been keeping me busy but I have been reading and watching various things as well.  I finished listening to Stephen King’s The Stand a little bit ago and as soon as I make myself finish watching the mini-series I will do a post on that.  I am also almost done with The Legend of Zelda:  Skyward Sword for the Nintendo Wii.  Since getting my Wii U I have made a commitment to play console games more and so far it has been nice to hang out in the living room with my wife and play the games a little at a time instead of sitting at work all day on my PC then coming home and sitting all night on my PC playing computer games.

I also just turned 31 last Monday, it’s still weird being in my 30’s but I think I am getting used to it.  My mom, sister, and sister’s boyfriend all came up to visit me the week before my birthday and it was good to see them for a few days.  Image

(Pic with my mom and sister above) My lovely wife Ellie took me out to a Japanese Steak house the night before my birthday and that was really fun and then we went out to our new favorite Mexican place in the mall, Azteca on my bday.  I got the new Lego City:  Undercover game for Wii U and a Lego Wii controller, I was and still am very stoked about the presents.  I also got an awesome card, my wife makes the best cards with drawings and everything, and some of her famous jelly filled cupcakes with butter cream frosting. All in all it was a really good birthday.

I finally updated my Michael Crichton Experience timeline and I have started reading another one of his books, to go along with several other books I am reading, but I really like this one so far so it should be a quick read I think.  There is a movie also and it has a very young John Lithgow in it so I am excited to watch it, he even has hair I think.  Well enough rambling on I plan on posting more once school is over, which is soon, and doing a lot of reading and writing this summer.  We have a couple of trips planned for this Summer and the one I am most excited about is Sunriver, we are going over the 4th of July with a bunch of friends and it should be good times.  I am almost up to 40k words on my novel and I hope to have a first revision done of it by the end of the year.  Stay tuned for more posts, my thoughts on The Stand are coming soon!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

I was rooting around in my garage this weekend trying to get it more organized and just going through boxes of stuff in general when I came across this little bit of awesomeness.


Yeah that’s my ticket stub from the 12:01 showing of Star Wars Episode I, shown at the illustrious Edwards 21 cinema in Boise Idaho, on May 19th 1999.  And yes it is in a 1/4 inch thick plastic case that is secured by screws, I don’t mess around protecting my Star Wars mementos, I guess.  My friends and I camped out for over a week for that bad boy, this was in the days before you could buy your movie tickets on the internet, I think for Episode II we just bought them on the internet.  I was super obsessed with Star Wars in High School, I collected all the toys and I had to buy boxes and boxes of the card game when they came out, my buddy and I had so many it was ridiculous.  I even got kicked off the track team because I was camping out for Star Wars instead of showing up for track practice.  We only lost the state championship in track by a couple of points that year too, points I probably would have gotten if I wouldn’t have been kicked off the team.  Not that I’m bitter or anything, Star Wars rules!  I remember when the show finally came we all had ridiculous Jedi costumes, my mom homemade mine, and practiced our lightsaber battles fiercely in the weeks leading up to the movie

When they finally let us into the theater we got our seats and then about half a dozen groups of people commenced to lightsaber fighting below the screen at the bottom of the theater.  At one point my buddy wanted me to come down with him and lightsaber fight but I refused to do so, he eventually got the whole theater chanting my name to come down, it was really embarrassing and I didn’t go down, but one of my other friends stepped up and dueled with him, so the crowd was quelled. Ah to be 17 again, good times, I still love Star Wars the originals are my favorite trilogy of movies of all time.

Rothfuss, Rodrigo, and Richie

Taking a page from my friend Jim’s blog today with the title 😀

I ordered a signed copy of one of the best books I have read in recent memory, The Name of the Wind.  It is by a fantastic author, with a huge beard, named Patrick Rothfuss.  I have been planning a re-read of the two books he has released for quite some time and the copy that I have of the first book in the King Killer chronicles had 200 pages randomly bound completely backwards in the middle of the book.  I had started to tear them out, since it was a free copy I had won from tor.com in the 10 best sci-fi/fantasy books in the last decade contest, but I quickly realized that was a mistake and so just read the 200 pages backwards.  It was an odd experience but  a pretty unique one, I have never read a book backwards, from right to left, and probably never will again.  I understand a lot more about the whole world he has created for the books and what a lot of the things mean since reading the 2nd book and putting everything together.  I thoroughly enjoyed my first read of the book but there were a lot of little details I just glossed over because I wasn’t sure what they meant.  The extremely detailed re-read that was on, tor.com, also helped explain a lot of things to me, so I am very much looking forward to reading it again, and hopefully understanding more of what is happening.

I really enjoy collecting signed books and I am still kicking myself for not ordering the Stephen King 25th anniversary edition of IT that was signed by SK!!!  I thought it was too expensive so didn’t order it, then the next day Ellie says hey look there’s this awesome version of IT signed you should buy it, I got to buy it and BAM sold out in less than 24 hours.  Speaking of IT, I am officially over halfway through the book and it is an amazing read.  Ellie has been trying to get me to read IT for basically the entire time I have known her, she has slowly gotten me into Stephen King, and I have thoroughly enjoyed his works, but IT really stands out to me.  The story and how he writes it is just so good and so perfect it’s hard to describe without actually reading the book yourself.  The book has been pretty intense so far but I think it’s about to ramp up a notch.  I mentioned Richie in my blog title, referring to Richie Tozer, one of the main characters in IT.  At this point in the novel they are all back in Derry and roaming around experiencing hallucinations and threats from It.  They have all decided to roam around by themselves and have experienced weird little things, Richie is standing in front of the Paul Bunyon statue and something is going to happen I am not sure what but that is the precise place that I stopped reading last night.  I know the upcoming scene is going to be scary and crazy because Ellie has mentioned this scene to me many times before.  There is an actual Paul Bunyon statue in SK’s home town of Bangor Maine and when Ellie and I visited there, it was the first thing we stopped and took pictures in front of.  Just being near the statue in real life freaked Ellie out so I am very interested to see what happens in the pages I will be reading tonight.  Going to Bangor was a very cool experience even though I hadn’t read my first SK novel at that point, we want to go back and visit Maine sometime soon, and I hope we get to explore Bangor again.  We drove around the town and tried to find places we thought were in the movie version of IT, Ellie had a better idea of what things were since she had read IT and many other SK novels, we thing we might have even found the Barrens.  Maine was a place I would not be sad to live in, it was really one of the only places I have ever been where it felt like home.  It’s a hard feeling to describe but it felt like we could live there and it would be good.

Ellie in front of Paul Bunyon Statue

On Sundays Ellie and I like to do what we have dubbed “Low-Tech Sunday”  where we try to spend as much time away from the TV and computers and gadgetry and just hang out and read and enjoy each others company.  I got a couple hundred pages of IT read and lots of relaxing done, a nap even, but Sunday was a day we had been looking forward to because it was the Season 2 finale of The Borgias.  The Borgias is one of the best shows on television right now, in my opinion.  It is on Showtime and is very much adult oriented seeing as it has lots of sex and graphic violence.  It follows the exploits and papacy of Pope Alexander the VI, better known as the Borgia Pope.  It is fiction of course but it seems like a lot of the events that happen in the show are based on what really happened.  I have done some research on his papacy and it follows real life events pretty spot on.  Jeremy Irons plays Rodrigo Borgia and the cast of other main characters is basically his entire family, he has an ex-wife, a mistress, a daughter, and 3 sons.  I highly recommend it and the season 2 finale did not disappoint.  I can’t wait to find out what happens with the cliff hanger that happened and I am very much looking forward to Season 3, just not the waiting for it to start!  I have plenty of other shows to watch we are chugging our way through How I Met Your Mother and I also need to finish the last 2 episodes of The Walking Dead.

That’s all for now, A Bientot

30!

I know it has been a while since I have posted, but it’s only because I am extremely lazy and like to play video games and watch TV too much.  Ridiculous excuses I know but here I am with another post!  I have been 30 for almost a month and SURPRISE it’s pretty much the same as being in my 20’s.  I do have a much fancier briefcase that Ellie bought me for my bday, it has an iPad pocket, is leather, and made by Orvis.  I like it a lot it makes me feel very professional.  I made sure to take it to my interview that I had with Emergency Preparedness last week, hopefully it gives me an edge over the other applicants because it is so badass.  I might be switching out of Operations and getting back into the EP side of things, with my same company.  I should find out next week if I got the job or not, I am hoping I get the offer and it has a nice raise to go along with it, we shall see.

I have finished the Hunger Games trilogy and it was fantastic, I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a quick yet exciting read.  I read the first book in one day and then savored the last 2 a little more and spread out the reading over a few weeks.  I have started on Stephen King’s IT, which Ellie has been harassing me to read for about 5 years now, it is slow going so far but I should be able to get into it more very soon.  I will probably finish SK’s The Dark Tower series after that I only have 2 more books to go, and then get into some more fantasy stuff after that either Game of Thrones or the Eragon series of books.  I haven’t written much on my novel lately but I have still been writing down ideas and details quite a bit so that has kept my creative juices on the project going.  I want to read more fantasy and sci-fi before I start writing again, and when I start writing make myself do at least 1000 words a day until I have a rough draft done.

Our little pup Ember is not so little anymore, she turned 5 months old recently and is a joy to be around and watch grow up.  She is pretty much the smartest dog ever and is one of the cutest to boot.  We let her sleep on the bed last night for the first time and she did very well.  I think she can definitely be a bed dog since Cedar likes to crawl under the bed instead of sleep on it, Moss is just too big, and Scully snores like a chainsaw.  Having a bed dog would be nice I think especially if we can wrangle up a King size sometime soon.

Other interesting things that are going on in my life atm are I got accepted into Law School in Boise but will not be going.  Finished my online classes for the semester this week and I am glad to have the summer off, from here on out I will be taking summer courses to finish in 2014.  Started playing Softball with a team at work and ran a 15k at the end of March, my legs were sore for a week.  My best friends Bachelor Party and Wedding are quickly approaching.  We are hitting up Sunriver Oregon and my families vacation house for the Bachelor Party and the wedding is in Coeur d’Alene on the lake, going to be pretty epic.  Might even get a tattoo in Bend while we are there for the Bachelor Party.  My diet is still doing fairly well, didn’t quite make it under 200 pounds like I wanted before my Bday but I should be below 200 in time for the wedding, we are still rocking the Atkins and its going very well I just need to exercise more.  I will try to update this monthly, at a minimum, from now on so I don’t take 4 months in between posts.