Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Review: The Prodigal’s Foole

The Prodigal’s Foole by R. B. Wood is an action packed story that’s equal parts X-Men, Harry Potter and Angel’s and Demons.

It follows the story of Symon Bryson, returning to his home town of Boston to reconnect with his old mentor, a Catholic priest named Charles. Symon soon learns, however, that Charles has been kidnapped by demons, and set’s of on a quest with his fellow former class mates to rescue Charles, defeat the demons, and confront Symon’s past.

Oh, and did I mention that Symon, his mentor and his friends are all mages? Yup, that’s right, magic. Used by the Church to fight against a very real evil. All in all, a very awesome set up, and a damn good story. The action is well paced and well written, and once it starts, it’s almost non-stop. The characters are all well developed, and Symon goes through hell (both literally and metaphorically) before it all ends.

All in all, this was a fabulous book, and a fun read. I highly recommend it for anyone into fantasy or urban fantasy.

If I have one complaint about the book, it’s that I feel the story ends before the book does. Don’t get me wrong, the end of the book does a good job of tying up some loose ends and sets up book two well, but I feel that the story ended before this point, with the heroes sailing off into the sunset.

That’s just my opinion, however, you mileage may vary.

I give this book four out of five stars, and suggest that if you are even a remote fan of urban fantasy, you pick this book up. You’ll be happy that you did.

Interview with R. B. Wood

I had the good fortune of being invited by fellow writer and now publushed author R. B. Wood to participate in his Magical Mystery Blog tour promoting his new book, The Prodigal's Foole. It's a fantastic read, and is being released on October 31st! Below is my interview with him, followed by the book trailer and some links for you to pick up the book. And do so, because it's worth it.

I see that the Prodigal’s Foole is written in 1st person. What made you decide to write in that perspective? 

When I developed the Character of Symon Bryson, I realized pretty quickly that TPF and the entire series needed to be seen from his perspective. 

I’m always curious what other author’s writing process looks like. Care to share yours with my readers and I?

Oh dear.  There is a phrase in US politics I like to use…”You never want to see the sausage being made.” J I build a large arc, the top of which is the ‘climax scene’ and fill in scenes leading to it that tell the story I want.  There is research and a lot of thinking and throwing away of ideas.  I have a general map of where I want to go, but a full outline I find too restricting as sometimes the stories take my in interesting directions and I like to explore those paths.

What was it like working on Prodigal’s Foole with a professional editor, as opposed to working with friends and relatives?

Well, I’m a little lucky in this, as my brother is a phenomenal editor.  He has a wicked red pen, and I’m sure was even more facetious and vicious because it was ‘his little brother.’  That being said, we had GREAT discussions, and collaborations.  A good editor who will work with an author is critical, in my opinion.

Were any suggestions made to you by either your editor or publisher that you were reluctant to incorporate?

 Yep.  Some battles I lost, others I won. 

What criteria did you look for when deciding which agents or publishers to query? 

I looked at agents and publishers (big and small) who represent and publish works similar to mine.  Research is key—and social media helped me to find my way as well.

What made you decide to go with a small publisher like PfoxChase? 

I adore Diane nelson.  She’s funny, harsh, supportive and walks with a big stick if she needs to.  I went indie, specifically because the industry is changing SO quickly, I firmly believe that a cadre of good authors with a small press can really take advantage of the uncertainty in the marketplace.

Are you working on something new now?

Yes…a few things.  Book Two of the Arcana Chronicles.  A SciFi Trillogy and a Comic book series in collaboration with a dear friend and auther from Australia.

Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? How many times? What was it like for you?

Once.  Insane.  I wrote a humongous piece of garbage that had one, maybe two good scenes.  I’ll use them elsewhere in some form.

In addition to writing novels and stories, you also run a fantastic podcast that features other artists, called the Word Count. How do you balance time between writing and the podcast? (The Word Count Podcast can be found here: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-word-count/id392550989 )

Ask my partner..I really don’t do it well.  She keeps me on track.

Do you have stories stuffed in the back of the virtual drawer that will never see the light of day?

Oh GOD yes.  That reminds me…I need to burn those.

Like myself, you’re a regular in #5MinuteFiction. What do you like about it that keeps you coming back? 

Well, I haven’t done it in a while….life has been getting in the way.  BUT I’ll be a judge in an upcoming #5MF, so looking forward to that.  Leah is a dear friend, my crit partner and my sounding board on stories, so not only is it a GREAT way to play with short fiction, but it’s run by someone who is extraordinarily talented herself.  Total win in my book.

Have you always considered yourself to be a writer, or was there a time in your life when you decided that is what you were? 

I’ve always loved stories.  I don’t consider myself a writer…more of a storyteller with a word processor.

Do you have a blog? How do you use it?

www.rbwood.com  I use it it to promote other writers, the podcast, for random musings I want to jot down and eventually to hawk my swag! ;-)

What social media do you use? Do you combine your personal and professional or keep them separate? 

I’m a technology consultant by day, so I  keep that very separate from my writer life…or as separate as possible.  I do have a fan page on Facebook and will eventually transfer all the ‘writer folk’ over to that page and leave my personal page for family and close friends.

What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?

My Macbook Pro.  I use Word, Write Skrivner and other tools on the system to help me write.

What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?

Honestly?  My brain.  There is nothing like taking time away from the keyboard to think. 

What is the most persistent distraction from writing?

My day job.  There is nothing like a ‘9 to 5’ gig in the IT world.

What is your ideal writing environment? Have you ever been able to create it?

GREAT question…I write when and where I can.  I never thought about an ideal environment before.  I’ll get back to you on that one.

Do you think that having a book published now will make you more confident in sending out queries in the future?

I don’t think it will have much of an impact.  If you don’t grow a thick skin quickly, this industry will eat you up.  After the 12th rejection, you really just move on to the next query.

What advice would you offer to new writers out there? 

Read as much as you can.  LISTEN as much as you can.  Get involved with social media because there are millions of authors out there willing and able to give you advice.

Here's the book trailer.

The book can be purchased on October 31st at the following locations:

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK




Saturday, October 22, 2011

NaNoWriMo Preparations

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when writers everywhere, both professional and wannabies, gather around their computers and word processors for that insanity of fun that is known as National Novel Writing Month!

Yes, that’s right. I’m one of those crazies that love to participate in this every year. It’s always a good time, and each time I do it, I learn something about writing a novel. But, before the big event starts, there are always things I need to do to prepare for it. And not all of them involve planning a plot or outlining my stories.

This does not mean that outlining and planning do not need to happen. They most certainly do. And I do a little of that before hand. But one thing I have learned in the years I’ve done NaNoWriMo is that I, personally, do better the less planning I have done.  A basic outline, the character’s basic stories written, and that’s about it. It works well for me.

But, to me, the non-writerly things are more important. These include, but are not limited to, house work, time off from the office, grocery shopping, and just generally making sure that all the mundane things are done before November 1.

For example, each year, I try to take the first week of November off work, so I have time to just sit and write. I can usually get a big lead on the needed 50,000 words during that week, so it pays off for me to do so. But, taking that week off and working on writing, I need to make sure that stuff around the house that would normally distract me is taken care off. This means, making sure the dishes are all washed the night before I start writing. Laundry is done before that week. All the grocery shopping is done. Any cleaning that needs to happen in the living room takes place before that week begins.

This way, I can just focus on writing.

Does it always work? Well, to be honest, it hasn’t completely worked yet. Mostly because it’s tough to get everything done before the writing begins. However, getting as much of this mundane stuff done as I can before I start the writing helps me focus better, and so in that respect, I have to say that it’s a huge success.

Even if that means that sometimes, I’m still vacuuming instead of writing.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Flash Fiction: Planets for Sale

Welcome to another entry in Friday Flash Fiction! This was my entry in this week's Five Minute Fiction, over at Leah Petersen's blog (check it out, it's fantastic. http://www.leahpetersen.com/).
When I first saw this prompt, "Planets," I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite Issac Asimov stories, Buy Jupiter, in which a group of marketeers try to sell Jupiter as the largest neon sign in history. I jumped from that to planets as real estate, and from there to... well, read below, and enjoy!
“And here we have a nice one,” the salesman said, pointing out the window of the spaceship. “Three large rings and four moons that present just the most breathtaking sunsets you can ever imagine. The sun is a bright yellow, much like your native system, and the atmosphere is compatible with you and your species.”
“Wow, that really is a fantastic view,” the man said, looking at the planet slowly rotating below them. “But, I dunno… it’s just a little… over the top. We just want something simple, but beautiful. You know, large oceans, large land masses for farming, islands for vacations, that sort of thing. Our people are just looking to settle down, start fresh. You have anything like that?”
“I think I do,” the blue salesman said, a smile crossing both his mouths. “Come with me.”
The man took his wife's hand, and they followed the salesman down a corridor and through another teleportation tube, where the salesman showed them another window. Below was a stunningly beautiful blue green ball of a world. It had a single, large moon, and a yellow sun shining over the horizon, highlighting the seas and oceans. It was breathtaking.
“I think you’ll find this has all the requirements you’re looking for,” the salesman said.
"Wow, it's fantastic," the man said. "What's it called?"
"It's called Earth," the salesman said, smiling again.
“Well, what do you think, Eve?” the man said, turning to his wife.
“Oh, Adam, It’s perfect,” she said. “We’ll take it!”

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Plans and more plans

I know I haven’t been blogging much. In fact, I just did a blog post stating that I haven’t been blogging much. So, I’ll not take the time here to re-hash that topic.

Instead, I’m here to inform you what some of my more immediate plans are for this website.

One, I’m going to start posting some reviews. These are mostly going to be of fellow authors that I follow on Twitter/Facebook/Google+ who’s books I have been lucky enough to get a hold of. I will try to make my reviews honest, even if I didn’t like the book, but I’m also not going to be mean and nasty, nor fanboyishly happy. I’m going to try to be fair in these reviews. Hopefully, it will work out.

On the topic of reviews, I have two books on the docket that will get reviews from me. One is R. B. Wood’s first book The Prodigal Foole, scheduled for release on October 30. I’m currently in the process of reading my ARC this novel now, and also have an interview with Mr. Wood, which will appear here on October 25. After that will be a review of D. Ryan Leask’s book, counting Down the Storm, which I was lucky enough to win in a recent Five Minute Fiction. I may just get an interview from him as well, just because I like that idea. It really depends on if he’s okay with it, and maybe I should, you know, ask him that first. I’ll let you know.

Beyond reviews and interviews, I will continue to post my short fiction and blog posts about my opinions on things as I feel the need/desire.  I have one story that I am working on cleaning up and hope to have posted here on Friday.

So, really, that’s all I got so far. Hopefully, I’ll get back into the swing of blogging and get more posts on here regularly. I really enjoy this blog, and I hope that you do to.

In the mean time, here’s the book trailer for R. B. Wood’s The Prodigal Foole. I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Suck at Social Networking

So, I realize that it’s been over a month since my last blog post. (Shit, really? *runs to check last blog post date, then checks the current date.*) Okay, not really over a month, but pretty darn close to a full month. Far to long for a blog that people will keep reading, right?

I’ve also noticed that I hardly post anything on Twitter anymore, and that most of my posts on Facebook are just sharing cool things OTHER PEOPLE have posted.

And it’s not like I stopped liking or enjoying these things. I love this blog. I love Twitter and Facebook, and all the friends I’ve made through those places.

I just suck at Social Networking.

I think the reason for this is the social part. I’m not really good at that part off the computer, when dealing with people face to face. Why should I believe that I’m better at it online?

And it’s not like there’s been nothing going on in my life. Lots of stuff is going on.

The ren faire guild my wife and I belong to is going through a restructuring that looks promising, and has us both wanting to stick around where previously we were considering quitting.

I started a tabletop RPG group and managed to get in one actual session of play before it was put on hold as the couple who’s house we play in decides on if they are moving or not.

Recently, my family took a trip to Disneyland and California Adventure, where we had a blast!

My wife celebrated her 40th birthday.

I’m celebrating my 10th anniversary at work this month.

I just got a brand new phone (a Samsung Galaxy S II), and man, am I super excited about that!

And there’s things happening in the world that I am interested in, too.

Occupy Wall Street is going on.

Steve Jobs died (today!), and I’m still sorting my feelings on that. Hopefully, I have a blog post on that soon.

There’s TV Shows that I’ve become interested in.

Doctor Who (I’ve just finished Season 5 on Netflix, but it runs out there… I can’t figure out how to watch Season 6 online without paying $3 an episode on iTunes, and I’m starting to go through Doctor Who withdrawals).

Haven on SyFy (I still cringe to type that) is awesome.

The webseries, The Guild, is running a really funny and fantastic season right now.

And, of course, there’s writerly stuff to talk about. I’m still trying to get myself to finish the Snow White in Space novel, hopefully before NaNoWriMo, because I plan on starting a whole new novel in November. But the truth is, I’m struggling getting myself to sit in front of the computer and write. I just seem to want to play video games. I don’t know if that’s a sign that this novel sucks and I just give it up, or that I’m just procrastinating, and I should suck it up and move on.

My point here is that it isn’t like there’s not stuff I can talk about. I just, for some reason, am not talking about them.

Normally, this would be the point where I tell you all that I’m going to change all that, and post here more often, and talk on Twitter and Facebook more often, and become a better Net-citizen.

But the truth, that’s a promise I’m not sure I can keep.

But here’s what I can promise. I promise that I will TRY to post more often, about whatever happens to possess my geeky little mind, whenever I can. No set schedule, because it’s obvious I can’t keep one for very long. But, as often as I can manage.

So, I’m still here, and I hope you’re still reading. Here’s to hoping that I can keep this up again.

Thanks for sticking with me, and for those of you that haven’t unsubscribe from my blog after this post, double thanks. There’s some cookies and milk for you in the kitchen.