Thursday, December 8, 2011

Grandma's Story #1: Pages 6-10

Grandma Dovie Walker
About a year ago I discovered some old handwritten stories my Grandmother Walker wrote back sometime before the Great Depression. It was a real treasure find for me, especially since I had never gotten the chance to meet her - she passed away just a few years after my father was born. You can read the story behind the story here: Grandma's Story #1.


I decided to compile the first 5 pages into one to make it easier to read. In the future I'll keep with this format, transcribing 5 pages at a time until I have the entire story transcribed..


If you see any errors or have comments about my interpertations or transcriptions please pass them along in the comment section below.


THANKS!






[PAGES 1-5]


…Irene and I to the field to hoe, but she would lay in the shade while I hoed and if she saw father coming she would go begging me to help her so he wouldn’t know she had been laying in the shade. So I would help her. Some have said that I wouldn’t have done it, but I knowed better to. Anyone would have to save their back from a beating.

In the fall we would go to school. We had a large hill to climb, and on our way back from school she would cry for me to carry her up that hill when she was 9 years old. She was always a fleshy girl and I was small and slender, for I always had to work hard.

I would tell father but he wouldn’t believe me, for she would deny it. So, one morning I told mother I wasn’t going to school anymore if I had to carry Irene up that hill every night, but she made me go and said they would see was telling the truth. She begged father to go down to the foot of the hill and hide and see who was to blame.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Fight for Honor


Honor doesn’t seem to carry the same weight nowadays as it did in history’s past. Honor was so sacred, so precious, that there were rules set in place when honor was broken, bruised, or challenged, especially when it came to restoring the honor of a woman. Gentlemen would gather in open fields in secluded and isolated places with swords and dueling pistols to settle debts of honor. If honor was grossly maligned, only the act of all out war would be sufficient enough to sate the restoration of one’s honor.

In contrast, honor seems to be sorely lacking in today’s society. We only need to look at our leaders, politicians, and most recently, coaches to see that. These men and woman are supposed to set moral examples and be individuals that ourselves and our children can look up to and strive to be like. Instead, far too often, we are gravely disappointed in their actions, words, and lack of honor. That’s not to say that honor is lost in them all. There are many that do strive and are successful at upholding honor and inspire many others to do the same. Unfortunately, with the advent of instant and worldwide communication, our hearts and minds are constantly being tainted with the foul acts of individuals that not only disgrace the meaning of honor but violate it until it’s beyond repair.

My delve into the topic on honor stems from an event that happened to me more than 15 years ago where I found myself in a situation where the honor of a loved one was desecrated and I was faced with the choice to either stand by and do nothing, or spring into action so that justice and honor could be served. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Grandma's Story #1: Pages 1-5

Grandma Dovie Walker
About a year ago I discovered some old handwritten stories my Grandmother Walker wrote back sometime before the Great Depression. It was a real treasure find for me, especially since I had never gotten the chance to meet her - she passed away just a few years after my father was born. You can read the story behind the story here: Grandma's Story #1.


I decided to compile the first 5 pages into one to make it easier to read. In the future I'll keep with this format, transcribing 5 pages at a time until I have the entire story transcribed..


If you see any errors or have comments about my interpertations or transcriptions please pass them along in the comment section below.


THANKS!






[PAGES 6-10]

2606 words
Mrs. Earl Walker
Holcomb, MO
Route #1

I’m here to tell you the story of my life, beginning back when I was a small child. There were only 4 of us in my family: my father, mother, my half-sister Irene and me, Cary. It filled me with sorrow to see how father treated mother. He would go away from mother and stay for 3 months at a time. She was only 15 when they married, and father was 19.

Mother was a Christian girl and she was good to father. They were married for a year before I was born. Father took to his spreading spells, and when I was about 3 years old he came home after being gone for several months with a little girl. She was about 1 year old, and he claimed she was my half-sister, Irene.

Mother was compelled to raise her against her will. I couldn't see how mother could stand for this. It wasn't long before I learned to hate Irene. She was such a liar. When she was 8 and I was 10, she made me her slave. I felt like father loved her more than he did me. I had to do as she said or father would whip me with anything he could find. Many times my back would be bruised where he had beaten me with his boot. Mother surely didn't love me; otherwise she wouldn't have stood for it, especially since Irene wasn't her child. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Prophecy Yet Fulfilled – Part 1

Erik the Viking by: Mitkov



Einmánuður had come and gone, and in its wake left the weight of eight cruel months, testing the guile, strength, and resolve of every man, woman, and child in lower Völangard. What was supposed to be a time of renewal and growth during the spring and summer months was transformed into a time of desperation, feuds, chaos, and war.

Dellingstad, a once prosperous and stable gunnstead has been turned on its ear, its population nearly doubled, swelling to over nine thousand in a matter of months. Its lands flooded with refugees from the southeast. Disease infected flock, depleted crops, a virulent sickness killing the weak, and the added tensions ever rising amongst the other clans had put a great deal of strain on its people, the land, and most notably it's leaders.

A tradition for as long as time had recorded, Chieftains, Raumadurs, Gōdi, Wolf Guards and other invited guests had gathered from across the gunn in Dellingstad's great feast hall, at the table of its leader Hrethel, to celebrate Hafnarfjörður; fall festival. Celebrated on the last day of Haustmánuður to mark the autumn equinox, it was a day normally reserved for the celebration of harvest, and to call upon Wôdan to gain inspiration and wisdom to get through the lean times of the winter months ahead. With Hod's Sons soon to arrive, the day held an even greater significance with the fate of the gunn wavering in the balance given the already lean times that the summer months had provided thus far.

Despite the meager accommodations, Hrethel had decreed that Haustmánuður would be a day of celebration, and that no man, woman, or child under his gunn would go hungry that day. Those not gathered in the great hall, had gathered in other halls within Dellingstad proper and throughout the gunn controlled territories. Even farmsteads out of the reach of Dellingstad proper had envoys sent to each and every home to insure his will be done, determined that none of his flock went to bed  hungry that night. His decree notwithstanding, there was still a feeling of unrest and uncertainty amongst many of those gathered for the great feast. An unsettling feeling of what was yet to come.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chosen To Serve - Deathwatch

Deathwatch Kill-team by 7eme-RuelleRouge


THE TRIALS

Ten lunar months had passed since the new recruits first arrived at Watch Fortress Erioch – a speck of time for a Space Marine. For ten months they trained in the ways and traditions that is Deathwatch. Ten months of grueling, relentless training unlike anything they had experienced before, as the Watch Captains oversaw their progress through discriminating eyes. To be selected - to be a chosen champion of their own home Chapters was not enough. Not nearly enough. Only after enduring the mind-numbing procedure of hypno-indoctrination – only after surviving barehanded and armorless combat trials with fearsome alien creatures – only after successfully completing the Kill-team cohesion assessments tests – then, and only then, were they finally accepted as one of the elite of the elites – a Deathwatch Space Marine.

Most succeed, but not all. It was the cohesion assessments that proved to be the most challenging – the obstacle that impeded even the most glorious champions across the Imperius Dominatus from assailing into the hallowed ranks of the Deathwatch Kill-teams. While Space Marines of all Chapters share one unified oath, to serve the Emperor of Mankind until death, they often do not share the same doctrines, beliefs, or traditions. Pride – arrogance – stubbornness – are mankind’s Achilles’ heel. Space Marines are not men, not anymore. They are glorious killing machines - perfected specimens created in the image of the God-Emperor himself - yet they too are not entirely immune to these mortal short-comings inherited by their human ancestry.

Fights broke out often and combat challenges were thrown down with reckless abandon amongst the newly recruited, as egos and ideologies routinely clashed – a circumstance veteran Deathwatcher’s were all too familiar with.  Foolishly, even Watch Captains were challenged. Notably, Watch Captain Tarran Cearr - a Storm Warden veteran who consistently went out of his way to goad fresh blood into duels to teach them a thing or two, but mostly to prove his superiority.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Grandma and Me

Grandma Robbins

I always wanted a Grandma. Sure, technically I had two Grandma’s – Grandma Walker and Grandma Ladd – but I never got a chance to know either of them. Both of my biological Grandma’s died long before I was born. As I’ve mentioned before, my Dad’s mom passed away just 2 years after he was born due to complications giving birth to his youngest sister. Grandma Ladd died due to a brain hemorrhage when she was in her mid-thirties. The family found her dead with blood all around her head. They assumed the cow that she had been milking had kicked her and caused the head trauma, but I believe she died as a result of a brain aneurism – the same complication that claimed my sweet Mother back in 1989.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been envious of my friends and associates that had a Grandma. Someone to knit you a sweater or make you one of those ear-flap hats to keep your head warm in the winter. Someone to bake you a batch of her world famous chocolate-chip cookies or cook you some homemade soup when you’re feeling under the weather. Someone to pinch your cheeks and tell you how adorable you are or how much they love you even with peanut-butter and jelly smeared across your face. Someone that always smiles when they see you, even if it was just a few moments ago that you trampled through their rose garden. Someone who keeps and cherishes everything you have ever made or given them, simply because you’re their grandchild. Someone who only sees the good in you, who loves you in spite of all the bad choices you made in life. That’s what I always wanted – a Grandma. 

Recently I celebrated my 42nd birthday. Alisha and I took a 3-day trip to Galveston to celebrate our birthdays together earlier in the month (which was amazing), but my actual birthday passed just like any other when you get my age -  easily and without much fan fair. In fact, I spent most of the day working, which was nothing to get excited about. But... a few days later... I received the most amazing birthday surprise... my very first EVER birthday card from my Grandma. How is that possible? Let me explain.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Grandma's Story #1 - Page 5

Grandma Dovie Walker
Will you help me transcribe my Grandma's old stories?

About a year ago I discovered some old handwritten stories my Grandmother Walker wrote back sometime before the Great Depression. It was a real treasure find for me, especially since I had never gotten the chance to meet her - she passed away just a few years after my father was born. You can read the complete story here: Grandma's Story #1.

Now I've taken up the task of transcribing these old stories and I need your help. My Grandmother wasn't very well educated, and the old southern language she used can be a bit challenging to interpret sometimes. It's always better to have more than one set of eyes when tackling something like this, so I thought it would be a fun project to do together.

Please leave your feedback in the comment section below.

Let's get started!






Earlier pages...

[PAGE 1] [PAGE 2] [PAGE 3] [PAGE 4] 

Story #1 - Page 5 (click to make larger)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just A Stone's Throw Away

"The Lottery" - By tracetXD

Humans are creatures of habit. We wake up around the same time every day, make a cup of coffee, feed the dogs, have a piece of toast and some eggs, kiss our children goodbye, and then head down to the local town square for the annul stoning. Yes, even something as brutal and violent as stoning someone to death in broad daylight, in front of an audience of small children no less, can become mundane when ritualized as cleverly illustrated by Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” That is, until it becomes personal.

The village lottery in Jackson’s story becomes ritualized to the point where the people gathered are more concerned with beginning on time “to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner” than the brutality that is about to take place in front of them. The men folk stand around casually “speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes.” The women folk “greet one another and exchanged bits of gossip.” The children do as children do, collecting rocks and “[break] into boisterous play.” Not so much as a hint that in just a matter of moments one of them will be stoned to death by the hands of their own family, friends, and neighbors.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Grandma's Story #1 - Page 4

Grandma Dovie Walker
Will you help me transcribe my Grandma's old stories?

About a year ago I discovered some old handwritten stories my Grandmother Walker wrote back sometime before the Great Depression. It was a real treasure find for me, especially since I had never gotten the chance to meet her - she passed away just a few years after my father was born. You can read the complete story here: Grandma's Story #1.

Now I've taken up the task of transcribing these old stories and I need your help. My Grandmother wasn't very well educated, and the old southern language she used can be a bit challenging to interpret sometimes. It's always better to have more than one set of eyes when tackling something like this, so I thought it would be a fun project to do together.

Please leave your feedback in the comment section below.

Let's get started!






Earlier pages...

[PAGE 1] [PAGE 2] [PAGE 3] 


Story #1 - Page 4 (click to make larger)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Never Enough Time For The Ones You Love

Uncle Milo and Aunt Beulah the day before he passed away.

It's been about two years since my Uncle Milo passed away. Uncle Milo was married to my father’s sister, Aunt Beulah. My family asked me to say a few words at the funeral, and I was honored to do so. At first I wasn’t too sure what I would talk about, but when I sat down and thought about Uncle Milo - thought about the man he was and what had transpired the day before he passed - it became abundantly clear to me what I was going to say that day.

While many of you don’t know my Uncle Milo, or may not have a strong connection with him, I think you will be able to connect with the words I shared with my family that day. Let’s not be afraid to tell the people we cherish and care about that we love them - there just may not be enough time to wait.

My speech…

We are not here today to mourn the death of Milo Dennis Simmons, but to celebrate his life. Milo was a good, hardworking man, who lived a good honest life. He married his schoolgirl sweetheart, he had four children, 2 boys and 2 girls, had 8 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren that he loved dearly and whom loved him back. He and Aunt Beulah lived in the same little white house on the hill most of their lives together, and were married for 67 years. Uncle Milo lived to be 87 years old doing the things he loved to do in life, hunt, fish, garden, farm, mill wood, raise horses, mules, and hound dogs, and spend time with his family, many of which lived just lived over yonder, or down the road, or across the street - we should all be so fortunate.

But, even though he lived a full 87 years, for the ones that were left behind, it wasn’t long enough. Milo could have lived to be over 100 years old and it would not have been long enough. It’s never long enough. Why is that? It’s because when we lose someone we love, we realize how little time we have on this earth with them. We don’t get to choose how or when we are brought into this world, and most of us don’t get to choose how or when we leave. We realize that every minute - every second - is a precious gift that shouldn’t be wasted on pettiness, or grudges, or hatred, or wounded pride.

Every second that passes by draws us nearer to our own end. That’s why it’s so important for us to love one another while we still have time.

I’m so thankful that I was able to spend some time with Uncle Milo the day before he passed. So thankful that I got to see Aunt Beulah stroke his hair, and hold his hand, and tell him that she loved him, and hear him say that he loved her too.

They didn’t need to say it - they had known each other nearly all their lives - and no doubt had said it thousands upon thousands of times to each other before. All they needed was to look into each other's eyes to see love - but they said it anyway. They said it because it’s important to say it to the ones you love - it’s even more important to hear those words from the ones you love.

I’m so thankful that I followed Aunt Beulah’s lead - I had visited Uncle Milo many, many times in my life, but I don’t recall ever telling him that I loved him before leaving, even though I’m sure he knew. But before I left that day, I reached down and held his hand, and I looked into his eyes, and I told him that I loved him. I’m so thankful for those few precious moments. I had no idea that would be the last time I would see him alive.

That’s how fleeting life is. Here today - gone tomorrow. In light of that - I want everyone to turn to the person next to you, or behind you, or in front of you - and tell them that you love them. If the mood moves you to hug or kiss - don’t let that opportunity pass you by - tell them that you love them.

Don’t let pride, or impatience, or shyness, or complacency, or being in too big of a hurry to tell your loved ones that you love them. You may never get a second chance.

Uncle Milo… I love you. To my friends and family… I love you too.

Thank you.


Michael A. Walker
Defying Procrastination


Have you ever had to give a eulogy? Who was it for? What did you say?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grandma's Story #1 - Page 3

Grandma Dovie Walker
Will you help me transcribe my Grandma's old stories?

About a year ago I discovered some old handwritten stories my Grandmother Walker wrote back sometime before the Great Depression. It was a real treasure find for me, especially since I had never gotten the chance to meet her - she passed away just a few years after my father was born. You can read the complete story here: Grandma's Story #1.

Now I've taken up the task of transcribing these old stories and I need your help. My Grandmother wasn't very well educated, and the old southern language she used can be a bit challenging to interpret sometimes. It's always better to have more than one set of eyes when tackling something like this, so I thought it would be a fun project to do together.

Please leave your feedback in the comment section below.

Let's get started!






Earlier pages...

[PAGE 1] [PAGE 2]


Story #1 - Page 3 (click to make larger)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Grandma's Story #1 - Page 2

Grandma Dovie Walker
Will you help me transcribe my Grandma's old stories?

About a year ago I discovered some old handwritten stories my Grandmother Walker wrote back sometime before the Great Depression. It was a real treasure find for me, especially since I had never gotten the chance to meet her - she passed away just a few years after my father was born. You can read the complete story here: Grandma's Story #1.

Now I've taken up the task of transcribing these old stories and I need your help. My Grandmother wasn't very well educated, and the old southern language she used can be a bit challenging to interpret sometimes. It's always better to have more than one set of eyes when tackling something like this, so I thought it would be a fun project to do together.

Please leave your feedback in the comment section below.

So, let's get started!






Earlier pages...

[PAGE 1]


Story #1 - Page #2 (click to make larger)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Grandma's Story #1 - Page 1

Grandma Dovie Walker
Last year I was visiting my Aunt Beulah (my father’s eldest sister) and she started telling me a story about how she came across some stories her Mother (my Grandmother, Dovie Walker) had written a long, long time ago. As the story goes, sometime between the end of World War I and the start of the Great Depression, my Grandparents traveled quite a bit. Not for leisurely fun or because they were in the military, but because they were very poor, as many Americans were during this troublesome period of time. So poor in fact, my Grandfather would routinely uproot his family and move from city to city - from state to state - looking for work.

As many of you know, back in those days women were expected to stay home and care for the house and the children. Supporting the family rested squarely on the shoulders of the men in the family. Well, apparently my Grandma Walker had ideas of her own. In an effort to help bring money into the household, she began writing stories and submitted them to pulp fiction magazines. As you will see from her writings, she wasn’t well educated. In fact, I would go as far as to say she probably dropped out of school at an early age, so its safe to say that none of her stories ever saw print. But it didn't stifle her imagination, and it certainly didn’t stop her from trying. I find that immensely inspiring and courageous.

I was so excited to hear that my Grandmother was a writer; I just had to see and read these stories for myself. It took some time, but we finally found them buried amongst other family treasures. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to hold these hand written stories in my hands. I never knew my Grandma. She passed away when my Father was just 2 years old from an infection after giving birth to my Aunt Omah. To have something personally written by her own hand was truly a treasure for me.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crystal Dina; My Best Friend




This came to me in a half-awake dream one morning. I wasn't abused as a child, nor did I abuse my own children, but something compelled me to write this for those little boys and girls out there that can't speak for themselves. I know it's a dark subject, but some things need to be brought into the light.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dead Poet


Celebrity voice impersonated.

Often times no one truly listens to us until we are passed on. Relinquished to ash and dust; our spirits departed and gone; our flesh rotting in the dirt. Dead.

I don’t mean listen in the mundane sense of the word. I mean when people really take the time to listen and understand the essence of our being. Our inner voice; our secret desires; the milieu of our mind, heart, and soul. Far more often than not, this sort of dissection and analysis doesn’t take place until we have traveled down that long and lonely road into the afterworld.

This is a frightening thought for most writers and poets; all creative people really. Their works of art - their writings - shunned, ignored, and unappreciated while life still breathes within them, but the moment they cross that border into the unknown, suddenly they become geniuses and masters of their chosen craft. Worse is to remain forgotten forever.

While it would be great to leave a legacy behind when I pass on, to have my writings scrutinized and heralded by the greatest minds of the ages, nothing would thrill me more than to have a great grandchild, hundreds of years from now, come across my writings in an old and forgotten family trunk (realistically, an old and out of date USB thumb-drive), like a sunken treasure chest, and be enchanted by each page, each word, like they were the rarest gems on earth. For them to sit and study and consider and scrutinize each story and poem in an effort to try and gain some insight or deep understanding as to the man I was; to genuinely appreciate and value my writings as family heirlooms. To gaze in wonder and wish they had gotten the chance to meet me; a chance to get to know me. To say, “Wow, my great great great grandpa wrote this.” To inspire them to chase their own dreams.

That is my secret desire.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Painting Life's Footstep's Photo Contest Winners

It's time to announce the winners! As I mentioned before, we had 61 photo entries, with a wide variety of shoes: 


(1) Motorcycle Boots
(1) Dress Shoes
(6) Kids Shoes
(1) Boots
(4) Work Boots
(1) Soccer Shoes
(7) High Heels
(2) Cowboy Boots
(16) Sneakers
(6) Stilettos
(7) Sandals
(2) Dancing Shoes
(1) Wedding Shoes
(1) Mountain Boots
(1) Flats
(1) Combat Boots
(1) Viking Shoes
(2) Mixed Pair


To decide the winners, we went old fashioned on this one. We had Alisha's children, Gavin (10) and Brynn (6) randomly draw the winners out of a hat. The kids got a kick out of knowing they had a hand in deciding the winners. Brynn was so excited, she wanted to keep drawing more names even after we had drawn the 3 winners. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Painting Life's Footstep's Photo Contest Finalist

Well, my first photo contest has come to an end. Alisha and I were very impressed with the creativity of the photos that were submitted. You guys went well beyond our expectations. There were 61 photo submissions, and well over 5300 votes cast! I'd say that was a very successful first competition. 

We had a few hiccups along the way, but hopefully it was an enjoyable experience for all. I’ll be holding more creative contests in the future, so here are some ways to follow me to stay in touch: 


Twitter: @WantToBWriter
e-Mail Subscription: E-Mail


You can also connect and keep up with Alisha K. Ard's work through the following options:

Twitter: @Alisha_Ard


Without further ado… here are the Top 10 Painting Life’s Footsteps Photo Contest Finalists...



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Interview: Author Dan Abnett

New York Best Selling Author - Dan Abnett
Dan Abnett is a New York Best Selling author who has written for some of the most famous fictional characters and universes man has ever known - The Terminator, Transformers, Doctor Who, G.I. Joe, Ghostbusters, ThunderCats, Pendragon, The Punisher, Iron Man, Star Trek, Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, Judge Dredd, Sinister Dexter, The V.C's, Planet of the Apes, Wallace and Gromit, Aquaman, Batman, Superman, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - but who's counting?

As I mentioned earlier this week, the short story I submitted to Black Library was rejected (I can only assume since I didn’t actually get a rejection letter), and that left me a little disappointed. However, the next best thing happened. I got an interview with one of my all-time favorite authors - and Black Library’s most exalted - Dan Abnett. I’m totally geeking out on this one. I am both excited and honored that Dan accepted my invitation. It means the world to me for a number of reasons.

Let me explain.

Back in 2006 my father was diagnosed with Leukemia and spent many months in the hospital before he lost his battle with the deadly disease. Needless to say, I spent many days and nights at the hospital with him during that time. Some days I would just sit there holding his hand while he slept or while he was unconscious from the pain medications. On the occasions when I would sleep, I would continue to hold his hand and rest my head on the bed next to him in the off-chance that he would awake in the night. I didn’t want him to wake up feeling alone, and in a strange way, it comforted me too.

There was a great deal of quiet time for prayer and reflection; just the repetitive beeps of machines and the occasional nurse or visitor to break up the monotony. While making a trip to Walmart for some snacks and some items for Dad, I decided to swing by the book section in the unlikely chance there would be something interesting there to read. To my surprise, standing alone in the gallows of science fiction mediocracy, I saw a Warhammer 40K book. A Warhammer 40K book… in Walmart… in the small country town of Crossville, Tennessee. My eyes had to be playing a trick on me.

So I picked up the book and began to read the first few pages. I was instantly hooked. The book was, “Ravenor Returned” by Dan Abnett. From that day forward I began devouring his books one at a time. I finished off the Ravenor series, then moved on to his Malus Darkblade fantasy series, and from there to Eisenhorn. Not only did Dan’s writing inspire me to read and write more, it also helped me get through a very difficult time in my life, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you, Dan.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rejected

"Rejected" - Photo by Oppet2

Well, 50 Days have come and gone, and I'm still not rich or famous. However, I am a little closer to fulfilling my dream. As many of you know, back on June 19th, Father’s Day, I made my first official submission to a publishing company – Black Library – in honor of my father. Black Library has a policy that they don’t send out rejection letters, instead, you have to wait 8 weeks after the submission deadline – in this case June 30th - and if you haven’t heard from them during that time period, then you can consider your submission rejected.

Today marks the end of that particular quest for me. Rejected.

Surprisingly, I feel pretty good, despite the rejection. Obviously, if given the choice, I would much rather they had accepted my submission, but not all is lost. The process of getting material ready for submission was a great learning experience. For one, I learned how to write with a deadline looming over my head. Granted, I had experienced this many times before in college, but its one thing to be under pressure to write for a good grade, it’s quite another when the future of your career is on the line. I also learned the importance of having a solid Synopsis and Summary, required elements by most publishers.

Most importantly, in the end, I have over 8,000 words of science fiction written that I feel very proud of, and while Hawk Rancore may never grace the pages of Black Library, he will always hold a special place in my memory banks. Writing is never a waist, published or not. The process of developing interesting characters, a solid story arc, and a seamless plot lend themselves to good practice. Like many other aspects of our lives, sometimes we learn and grow much more from failing than succeeding.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Interview: Author & Mega Blogger Dan Pearce

Dan and Noah of Single Dad Laughing

Sometimes you come across people who are truly inspiring, and Dan Pearce, of Single Dad Laughing is one of them. Dan was able to take a tragic event in his personal life and change it into something beautiful - a blog for us Dad's (parents of all types really). Looking for a place to vent (and cry), Dan started Single Dad Laughing back in the summer of 2010. Within a year's time, Dan's blog had skyrocketed to the outer internet stratosphere! Now with over 65,000 Facebook fans, over 100,000 subscribers, and MILLIONS of page views every month, Dan has become a blogging superstar.


On Single Dad Laughing, Dan shares his experiences of being a single father and stories about his AWESOME adopted son, Noah. Seeing that he is such a mega-star these days, I'm extremely grateful that Dan was able to take some time to share his thoughts on self-publishing with me. Dan inspired me to start my own blog, Defying Procrastination, and also helped me design it. For that, I am truly grateful. Thanks Dan!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Interview: Author, Publisher, and Game Designer Monte Cook

Author, Publisher, Game Designer - Monte Cook

You don’t have to be a “gamer” to be a fan of Monte Cook’s work, although, if you are, he certainly needs no introduction from me. For those of you who aren’t gamers, however, a brief history of Monte Cook might be in order.

Monte has been authoring and editing books and game systems professionally for more than 20 years, and has compiled an impressive resume of published works. He got his start writing, editing, and designing for Rolemaster and Champions back in 1988. From there, he took those key roles to TSR (now Wizards of the Coast), which led to one of his greatest contributions to role-players abroad - the complete redesign of Dungeons & Dragons that gave us 3rd Edition D&D.

As part of that redesign, Monte Cook wrote the 3rd Edition Dungeon Master's Guide, which ushered in a new age in the role-playing that has had a long lasting and positive effect on gamers around the world. 3rd Edition introduced us to a much more streamlined and manageable set of role-plying rules – the D20 System. This open-licensened system crashed open the doors for both new players and new game designers alike.

Monte now owns and operates his own publishing company, Malhavoc Press, with his wife Sue. Under the Malhavoc Press banner they have produced several impressive titles including: The Book of Eldritch Might, Arcana Unearthed, and the campaign setting, Ptolus.

Being a fan of his work, and a geek in general, I contacted Monte to see if he would allow me the opportunity to pick his brain on publishing in the field of role-playing games. I’ve often thought it would be an amazing experience to be able to design and write fiction for role-playing games, and what better person to ask than Monte Cook? I was both honored and excited when Monte graciously said, “Yes... thanks for thinking of me.” 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Some Things are Sacred

"Money Rules Man" by Ben Heine
To possess the wisdom and forethought when I was young that I do now would surely have been a sacred blessing. As I have gotten older my priorities in life have changed drastically. Instead of looking into the future as an endless and boundless journey, I have come to realize just how finite the road that lies ahead of me really is. Time is running out; I have nearly reached the middle of my expedition (at least I hope so) and what motivates me now in my career choice has not differed than it did twenty years ago: money. I must make a lot of money, but not for the same reasons as when I was a young man.

No longer am I driven to the single-minded pursuit of the stereotypical American Dream. No longer am I motivated by society’s standards that constantly tug, pull, and drive me as an American to “make more money,” which is peddled as the modern yellow brick road that promises to lead me to "Paradise." The root of happiness is nurtured and grows from within; a lesson I learned thanks in part to the quipping escapades that life has dragged me through. Happiness should be the pursuit of what cultivates the heart, not what grants us the ability to gather more inanimate objects that will soon, like us, rot and return to the earth. As author William Faulkner said in his Nobel Prize Award speech, we should, “help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Slide Rule: A Chick Magnet Plus Other Practical Uses

William Oughtred
If you were to place a modern calculator into the hands of famed mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, it is quite likely you would garner much the same quizzical reaction by placing a slide rule into the hands of a present day math student. While they both have the familiarity of numbers printed upon their surfaces and both can be used to multiply and divide large numbers, their mode of operation is quite different.

The invention of the slide rule has widely been accredited to English mathematician William Oughtred. It is believed that Oughtred came up with the idea of the slide rule in 1622 after leaving the University of Cambridge, formerly known as The King's College of Our Lady and St. Nicholas. In truth, had it not been for the prior works of John Napier and Edmund Gunter, the existence of the slide rule would have fallen into the same mind numbing dilemma of “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

In 1614 Scottish mathematician and physicist John Napier forged the idea of logarithms (Greek for "ratio-number") as a way to multiply and divide large numbers more easily. However, it was difficult to conceive and apply this new mathematical concept without some form of visual reference as a guide. In 1620, English astronomer Edmund Gunter took Napier’s logarithmic concept a step further by creating a two-foot long scale that mapped out these logs. Then two years later, William came up with the idea of placing two of Gunter’s scales together as a way to calculate large numbers even more quickly. Thus the concept of the slide rule was born. One could argue that English mathematician Henry Briggs also played a key role in the development of the slide rule since it was he who, in 1617, converted Napier’s original logarithmic concept into the base 10 system we know today.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Robert E. Howard: 75 Years of Silence - Part 3

Me sitting in Robert E. Howard's room at his
writing table.
[PART 1] [PART 2]

After we left the dining room, our next stop was the kitchen. While the kitchen had been restored and decorated with period appliances and decorations, the main attraction was the large assortment of Robert E. Howard memorabilia displayed about the room. The first thing that caught my eye was the huge map of Hyboria hanging on the wall, which was donated to the museum by one of his fans. Some other interesting items of note were: a notebook containing the genealogy of the Howard Family, the original glass display case from the local drug store where Robert worked for a time as a soda jerk, a collection of books by fellow author and best friend Tevis Clyde Smith, a work table that was likely used by Robert to fold papers when he worked for the Cross Plains Review newspaper, a picture of Robert E. Howard taken outside of his house with his trusted canine friend Patches (framed with pieces from the original picket fence that was destroyed in a tornado in 1994), memorabilia from the filming of the movie about his life, “The Whole Wide World,” and finally, Robert’s high school annual from when he attended Brownwood High School his senior year.

While these items were certainly interesting in their own right, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the room across the hall – Robert E. Howard’s bedroom – where he tapped away at his typewriter and created the numerous worlds of fantasy and fiction that millions around the world still enjoy to this day.

One of the last checks Howard received for his work, nearly a month after his death. 

A rope draped across the entrance to his room kept anyone attempting to enter at bay. To my surprise Anne, our tour guide, asked, “Would you like to sit in his chair?” My mouth said, “I’d love to,” but my mind was screaming, HELL YES! She carefully removed the rope and I was in. There were many interesting items displayed throughout the room, but I couldn’t resist sitting at Howard’s writing desk first. As I sat down and placed my fingers on the old Underwood No. 5 typewriter – a similar one, but not the original owned by Howard – I began to imagine myself as Howard, and what it must have been like to tap away at this archaic piece of machinery for hours and days at a time in the hot Texas heat without air conditioning, error correction, or a spell checker. GASP!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Eaters of the Dead: A Mythological Analysis

Eaters of the Dead,” by noted storyteller, Michael Crichton, is an epic story told through the prose of a 10th century Arabic writer by the name of Ahmad Ibn Fadlan. Ibn Fadlan was a familiar to the Commander of the Faithful of Baghdad, Caliph al-Muqtadir, who was sent to deliver a message to a wealthy and prominent merchant. This merchant had in his possession a young bride with unsurpassed beauty. While waiting for the master of the home to return, Ibn Fadlan is seduced by the young temptress and gets caught with his pants down - so to speak. When a request from a far off king is delivered to the Caliph to send an ambassador to him from Baghdad, the wealthy and influential merchant insists that the Caliph send Ibn Fadlan. To save face, the Caliph is forced to comply and sends Ibn Fadlan on this perilous expedition.

Along this journey, Ibn Fadlan records the events of his travels, and his encounters with the Baskirs, the Hazars, the Saqaliba, the Turks, and finally the Northmen (Vikings). It takes more than three years for Ibn Fadlan to return to his home in Baghdad, the vast majority of it spent in the company of the Northmen, whom at first he loathes with the utmost contempt.

Led by their fearless leader Buliwyf, the Northmen and Ibn Fadlan are “called by the gods” to a hero’s duty, far to the north, to rescue King Rothgar, a distant relative of Buliwyf, from a “nameless terror.” Buliwyf is a fierce and mighty warrior, who has in his possession the power of the giants in the form of Runding, a sword of the ancients.

It isn’t until Ibn Fadlan is forced, at first, to unite with the Northmen to battle the notorious “eaters of the dead,” that Ibn Fadlan begins to understand, tolerate, and respect the differences between people of his culture and those of the Northmen.

It is, in Ibn Fadlan’s words, “[by] the grace of Allah,” that one amongst them, a quick-witted young warrior by the name of Herger, is gifted in the Latin tongue. It is through Herger that Ibn Fadlan is able to communicate with, and ultimately understand their extraordinary ways.

"Beowulf" - by pujaantarbangsa 

Eaters of the Dead” is a retelling of the classical Scandinavian myth “Beowulf.” Author Michael Crichton weaves a masterful tale, melding fiction with historical facts, making it difficult to discern between the two, despite many fanciful elements within the story.

There is little argument that the Muslim Arabic writer Ahmad Ibn Fadlan did exist, and he was sent as an ambassador to the Bolgars, now modern Kazan. What is in question is what transpired once he encountered the Northmen. In my opinion, this represents the “crossing over” point in the story.  In “Eaters of the Dead” Ibn Fadlan is on the ship with the Northmen warriors as they come upon the city of Bulgar, the very city he was sent to be emissary of. Ibn Fadlan pleads with the Northmen to stop and let him complete his task, but they do little more than laugh and ignore him. It is at this point I believe Michael Crichton deviates from fact to fiction, from the realm of the real into the realm of myth.

Sua the dragon Beowulf battles.

There are many similarities between the tale of “Beowulf” and “Eaters of the Dead.” In both stories the hero is summoned by an imprudent king far off to the north to assist him with a monster that is terrorizing his village. In the epic poem of “Beowulf,” Grendel is the monster. In Crichton’s rendition, Buliwyf is the hero, but the monster is the great fire wyrm, which turns out to be the fabled half-man half-beast people called the wendol (Neanderthals). Both heroes have to deal with a contriving underling who wishes to undermine their heroism; in Beowulf it is the King’s advisor, and with Buliwyf it is the King’s son. Both heroes do battle with a great dragon; Beowulf slays the dragon Sua, and Buliwyf battles the wendol who ride in the mist and take the form of a “glow-worm” given the name Korgon. Both heroes face off against the “mother” of the monster; Beowulf defeats Grendel’s mother by lopping off her head and Buliwyf defeats the “mother of the thunder caves” by stabbing her with a dagger.