Stop! I Collaborated now Listen!

Alright Bookbrainers, (yeah you heard me), I have something special for you this week! Some of you may have noticed me post about this VERY briefly on the blog’s Facebook page, but I recently went on my friend’s podcast called Rawcast: A.D. (Here: https://soundcloud.com/rawcastad/017-bookbrain ) and got to promote the blog to his listeners. I HIGHLY recommend that you go over when you get the chance to give it a listen. Doug (the host of Rawcast: A.D.) and I talk about the blog quite a bit…

I'm Awesome

(Pictured Here)

…as well as talk about movies and books worth reading. Doug and I go waaaaay back to our college days at UW-Stevens Point. There is also a podcast we did talking about that if you’re for some reason interested in me…can’t imagine why you would be though…(*cough* look at above picture *cough*).

Anyway! Doug’s podcast has been on hiatus for a while, but he’d bringing it back better than ever going forward! Doug talks about everything from politics, to books and movies, to just random fun things that he feels like brining up. So if you’re interested in him or if you just want to hear me jabber like a moron for an hour about writing give it a listen!

Now to celebrate this awesome crossover how about a…FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE!!! On next week’s blog I’ll post the new challenge for YOU (yes you) to vote on and me to pick the wining suggestion and write on. So all you Bookbrainers…

Bring me

I want all of you to get involved in this next challenge and have your friends (all those Nobrainers who don’t read the blog) vote too! Also when I ask you to, “Bring me everyone,” what I mean is…

Everyone

Have a great week!

Creative Inspiration: Dungeons and Dragons

Alright you beautiful readers! This week I’m taking the time to dig into one of my favorite creative inspirations, so grab your dice and let’s talk Dungeons and Dragons!

Dice

(May the odds be ever in you favor!)

I’m fairly sure I was born with a love for all things fantasy. If you were to take a sample of my DNA and look at it under a microscope you’d see a tiny film strip of a wizard fighting a dragon. So it’s no wonder that this game appeals to me, what with it having a picture of both wizards and dragons on many of its covers. The only strange thing is that I didn’t get introduced to the game until I was in high school. (So many wasted years!) The game is even loved by people such as Vin Diesel.

(Disclaimer: I actually stopped playing official D&D years ago. I play a game called Pathfinder, which is essentially the same game but by a different developer. I just called it D&D when talking to other people because it’s easier and they don’t really care about the difference.)

For those of you reading not too familiar with the game, Dungeons and Dragons (much like myself), comes to you from the great state of beer and cheese, Wisconsin. The game was introduced to the world by Gary Gygax in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in January of 1974. Since then the game has seen many years of ups and downs, with the high of its popularity being in the 80’s (think Stranger Things from Netflix), though it has been growing in popularity in the last few years again now that all things geek and nerdy are mainstream popular.

Each player in the game creates a character from the rules offered in the books ranging from your standard Wizard…

Wizard

To the Rouge…

Rouge

To the basic Fighter…

Fighter

(It’s super effective!)

Once you as a play pick your class, race, and buy gear from what gold you have, you’re ready to play! One player though has to act as the narrator for the story and control the monsters you fight, they’re called the Dungeon Master (though to be fair the newer books acknowledge that this name has a LOT of geeky connotation with it have has started to call them the, “Game Master,” instead to try and sound cooler…it’s not working).

It’s the job of the Dungeon Master (DM) that I want to focus on though. For many of the games I’ve played my job was to be the game’s DM. There are pre-made games that I could run in this role, but the fun and challenge of creating my own worlds using the game’s rules and putting my friends into stories that I create (often without much preparation since that’s a lot of work and I’m busy *cough* lazy *cough*), has challenged me to become a better story teller over the years and helped inspire me to think about fantasy stories in many different ways. As well one of the challenges of running a game is that it only works when the players are having fun. Playing has challenged me in a way where I have to balance each player’s own enjoyment of the game, my enjoyment of running it, and keeping the game fair and running smoothly. It’s the kind of challenge that any writer interested in fantasy should consider since keeping readers happy functions much the same way and provides very similar challenges.

Hopefully in the future you think of D&D less like this…

Geeks

And more like this…

Awesome Geeks

Now that you’re more familiar with this amazing game and its possible influence, my challenge to you is this…go and enjoy your weekend!

Recent Reads: Book Review!

Happy weekend readers! I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying summer! So for this week I wanted to talk briefly about some recent books I’ve read. (I feel like a kid with a summer reading list from the library!) All the authors out there giving advice on writing all say the same thing, read. Now for anyone who knows me you know that’s not a difficult request! So I thought I’d share the most recent books I’ve read. I just finished reading The Rook and its sequel Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley.

RookStiletto

Without giving away too much these books are about a secret British government organization of people with supernatural powers who fight to keep supernatural things secret and to protect the public from them. Basically think House of Cards meets Men in Black meets The X-Men. The first book is told from the perspective of Myfanwy Thomas, who is one of the controlling members of this organization…who has had all her memories removed and wakes up surrounded by dead people. It’s ok though, since the original Myfanwy knew that someone was going to wipe her mind so she left instructions for her to pretend to be her.

These books are funny and will grip you from the beginning with both political supernatural intrigue and an incredibly interesting and extremely fleshed out world that these books take place in. I can’t recommend them enough!

So while you wait for my first book to hit shelves in like five years, give these a try and enjoy!

Giving Credit: Writing Tips

It’s the weekend! I hope all of you fine readers are doing well. I want to give a BIG thanks to everyone for all the kind words about my flash fiction story from last week! It meant a lot to me that you took the time to read something a little longer than my normal blog posts and that you actually liked it!

Love me

So because everyone seemed to enjoy it, I’m going to make flash fiction challenges like that a regular thing on here! But since it takes time away from me working on my book, I won’t be doing them more than once a month or so. Now, it has occurred to me that I never really spoke on how I came up with the challenge. Short answer: I didn’t.

eh

Long answer: So a few years ago I was walking through Barns and Nobel with my fiancé and I found the section of books that deal with tips for writing. I spent over half an hour looking through the various titles and scanning chapters. Now I have a degree in English and a minor in creative writing and I’ve spent a lot of my adult life thinking about and studying the craft of writing…yet I can’t seem to ever have enough books on the subject. Not all books on writing are good, and some aren’t really meant for people like me, but there are always some that I find have great tips and ideas about how to write that I gravitate to.

During this trip I found one that has since become my favorite. It was titled, The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience by Chuck Wendig. (You can see why the title grabbed me.) This book was filled with great ideas about writing put in such a way that it doesn’t feel like a text book and doesn’t sound like something a guy named Brad would say while wearing an ascot and admiring his own flatulence.

Brad

(Fact: Fred’s real name is Brad)

I can’t say enough how much I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in writing! So while reading it I became interested in the author Chuck Wendig and looked him up. He has a blog. It’s right here: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/ I started reading his blog and on it every Friday he features a post called (you guessed it you super smarty pants reader!) Flash Fiction Challenge. Now for his blog he’s challenging his readers to do the writing and he just comes up with the prompts (somehow). In the future I may take more challenges from his blog to use or I may come up with my own, either way I’m very excited to keep writing both this blog and flash fiction, and seeing what ideas I can juice from my brain for you!

(I’m going to leave you with that fun mental image)

Have a great weekend everyone!

You’re Not Hemingway: Writer Things

Welcome back to your favorite way to start your weekend! (you know it’s true)

Going into this weekend let’s talk about some writer things. I’m not talking about things like pens, paper, writer confetti…

pexels-photo-261880

(Writer Confetti)

Over the years I’ve realized that many people have some ideas of what writers are like. I’m not going to go into all of the different stereotypes, that could take a while. Instead I’m going to focus on the two that kind of go hand-in-hand. These are the, “Coffee House,” and, “Alcoholic,” writers.

You know what I’m talking about. The Coffee House writer is the writer that sits in a public place, usually at a coffee shop or with coffee, and writes. Now I’ve been guilty of this one myself on several occasions, but unlike the stereotype I was actually there to work in a space away from where I lived. The Coffee House writer is more interested in being SEEN writing rather than ACTUALLY writing. You will know them by their screens tilted so that others can see it, constantly roving eyes looking for eye contact, and them jumping at the opportunity to say, “Why yes! I am writing a novel! It’s a space epic about a chimpanzee star pilot falling in love with an alien made of mold whose people are at war! It’s really a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but you’d have to read it and have a degree to get it. LET ME TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT!!!” If you see this person, you must shun them! SHUN!!!

The other type is the Alcoholic writer. This is the writer that claims that they are, “unable,” to write without alcohol. As if they have some sort of mystical liver that if you pour alcohol in a great American novel comes out.

alcohol-hangover-event-death-52507

(If you look closely you can see he’s going to spring into a flurry of writing at any moment)

This kind of writer will use alcohol as an excuse to do stupid things all in the name of their, “art.” Really they’re just using writing as an excuse to drink. Shun this person. SHUN THEM!!!

Now at this point you’re probably curious how these two kinds of writer’s came to be. It’s simple, blame this man:

ernest-hemingway---mini-biography

This is Ernest Hemingway. (seen here typing a few words before he goes and shoots a lion in the face) Hemingway, for those of you who don’t know, was a famous American author who made a name for himself writing about drinking and manliness. He was well known for writing in cafés and drinking enough alcohol to fuel a rocket. To this day many of his works are still seen as some of the greatest American novels ever written and are frequently taught in schools. Now because of this man:

Ernest_Hemingway_at_the_Finca_Vigia_Cuba_-_NARA_cropped

(Yes, this man)

Many people make a show of imitating his public writing and drinking exploits thinking that it will make them either a better writer or a more authentic one. The worst part? Many of these annoying asshats don’t even realize that they’re imitating him! They just think that’s the, “thing,” you do to be a writer.

So there you go! For those of you who think this is all writers, hopefully you know more and realize these two kinds of writers aren’t to be encouraged. That real writers are the ones busting ass at a keyboard on good days and bad, whether the inspiration is there or not, whether or not anyone sees it. The other kinds? They are to be shunned. Shunnnnnnnnd.

Creative Inspiration: The Real Guardians

Alright folks it’s time to take a jump to the left!

So to give all of you something to look forward to, I’m going to dedicate one entry a month to talk about either a book, TV show, or movie that has helped either inspire me creatively or may help to inspire you. I’m uncreatively calling this my, “Creative Inspiration Series” (Irony).

For our first inspiration outing I wanted to do something special. I wanted to take a look at a fun group of heroes that have had a huge impact on me and star in my favorite movie, and with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 just coming into theaters the timing couldn’t be more perfect!

Today we’re talking about The Fifth Element!

5th Element

Now I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Um Spencer, what the hell?” And that’s simple, as much as I loved the first Guardians of the Galaxy and how I’m incredibly excited to see the sequel, for me the real guardians of the galaxy will always be Korbin Dallas and the group of heroes from this movie. I mean seriously! This movie came out in 1997 and is still amazing. Actually the timing couldn’t be more perfect with the movie celebrating its 20 year anniversary this past week.

If you’ve somehow never seen this distilled bit of awesomeness you make me sad. The plot follows Korbin Dallas played by Bruce Willis in his second greatest role (if you have to ask what the first is all I have to say to you is Yippie Kay-Yay Motherfucker!) as he helps a priest, a radio DJ, and the ultimate weapon who is also a supreme being…

LeeLoo 1

(They really did make her perfect.)

…stop evil itself from destroying the Earth. This movie features great practical special effects, good humor, kickass action, and that something else. That thing that exists in some movies but not others, that we can’t put our fingers on. It’s the thing that makes a good movie great. The same way that before my fiancé taught me how to cook, I would have all the right ingredients, I’d put them together, but it still would taste like I scraped it out of a restaurant dumpster after a week in the sun.

Since I was a kid and first saw this movie I’ve loved it. The way it throws you into an expansive world filled with futuristic technology and culture, yet never hits you over the head with exposition. It never even explains much of what you see in the movie that isn’t directly related to the plot (though it does give some clues here and there if you think and pay attention). It’s this kind of attention to world building that I look to bring into my writing. I want to breathe life into my world and give it that kind authenticity that makes you feel like you could really be there if only you could find the universe’s greatest travel agent. (If only The Doctor had a day job!)

Is this the world’s greatest movie? No. But it’s the only movie I’ve ever watched that I could watch all day every day and never get sick of and that’s got to count for something.

Now you must be thinking to yourself, “Hmmmm, Spencer this all sounds good, but I haven’t seen this movie and I’m busy as hell. Should I really take the time and watch it?” …Yes, yes you really should watch it. To be honest not doing it may give you cancer. I mean I’m not a doctor or anything, but do you really want to risk it?

Besides!

6b8c974f0309739a1adc658ab4ddbea6

It’s my favorite!