Monday, April 30, 2018

Don't Miss David Farland's Master Class...Only At Fyrecon 2!

In just under two months, artists will gather, writers will congregate, and students will assemble. They'll come together to share ideas, foster inspiration, and participate in Utah's newest writing symposium. 

Fyrecon, the second edition.

And one of the main attractions to the event are Master Classes. This year's con will have classes on writing, illustration, sculpting, and other art forms. One of the biggest names to attend is David Farland.

If you're looking for someone with experience in the publishing, writing, and marketing industries, you'll be hard pressed to find a person with more. He has literally taught some of the most successful writers of our time.

This is from Fyrecon's website:

David Farland is an award-winning, New York Timesbestselling author who has penned nearly fifty science fiction and fantasy novels for both adults and children. Along the way, he has also worked as a creative writing instructor, a video game designer, and a movie producer.
In 1991, Dave was invited to act as a judge for the Writers of the Future Contest, the world’s largest science fiction and fantasy writing contest for new authors, and was soon promoted to the position of Coordinating Judge. Recently, Dave accepted the position of Director of Storytelling for a new animation studio, Crocodiles Not Waterlilies Entertainment, where he will help guide the company’s production of books, video games, and animated films.
Dave has also worked as something of an acquisitions consultant for publishers. In 1992 and 1993, he worked for Gibbs Smith Publishers, helping them find manuscripts for children’s books, and he recently accepted a similar position for Tor books.
Over the past several years, I've had the opportunity to have several conversations with Dave. He's so approachable and personable, and he knows his stuff. I can only imagine how his class would be. If you're serious in learning about the craft of writing, sign up! It's a 12-hour in depth course. 

David Farland

Here's the schedule:

Class is limited to 30 students
Thursday, June 21th, 9am – 1pm
Friday, June 22th, 9am – 1pm
Saturday, June 21th, 9am – 1pm
Explore the writing process step-by-step over three days and see exactly how it is done. Each hour we’ll cover a new step toward completion and beyond.
Hour 1–Brainstorming, “1001 Ideas in an Hour,”
Hour 2–Brainstorming Settings
Hour 3–Create Your Characters
Hour 4–Weaving the Plot
Hour 5–Focus on Writing (Cleaning your palette, creating a writing space, focus)
Hour 6–Drafting Your Opening/Hooking Your Reader
Hour 7–Enchanting Your Reader Image by Image
Hour 8–Adding Complications
Hour 9–Powerful Endings
Hour 10–Editing to Greatness/Working with Editors
Hour 11–Sending it Out, Dealing With Editors and Agents
Hour 12–How to Make a Living as a Writer
Hurry--seating is limited. You can find out more about Dave's class, as well as the other amazing writers and artists at Fyrecon by clicking: HERE. And to find information specifically about Dave's class, click: HERE.

If you're thinking about going, please check out Fyrecon 2. It's going to be great!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Photos From A Busy Saturday...

Yesterday was one of those days.


Very busy.

Last night, after spending most of the day in a car or in a store or in my in-law's house, I sat down and chose a Pic Of The Day photo. I decided on a picture of a beautiful B-17 flying overhead, but it could have been something else, like a counter full of pizzas, a advertisement for sporks, or a bottle of flax oil--Super Lignan (whatever that is...).

It's amazing how many things you see on a busy day.

Saturday is the day of the week we buy groceries. Thanks to the incredible time in which we live, we order our groceries on-line, then just pick them up. It saves a lot of time. I don't know if I could have afforded the several hours it would have taken me to get the groceries myself. There was just too much to do.

Not only that, we also dropped off and picked up our daughter from dance. After dance and groceries, we ordered lunch and went to my in-laws because we had family in town from California. Always love hanging with the fam, catching up, and eating good food. That's a win-win-win in my book.

After leaving the mini family reunion, we rested, but not for long. Our daughter had a dance to go to at night--not a dance rehearsal like she did in the morning, but an event where she could put all that dance practice to good use. Driving home my wife remembered a wedding reception of a neighbor, so we changed and drove over. At last, after picking up my daughter from her dance (it was at the church where we saw the cry room which became yesterday's blog post topic...), I could finally sit down, write my blog post, select my Pic Of The Day and relax from the day that was.

I took several pictures--at one of the stores, at the in-laws, at the church, and at a plane while waiting at a red light. I could have taken pictures at several other stores, at the place where I picked up the pizzas, at the wedding reception, but I didn't. I guess I forgot. It's amazing how many things you see on a busy day.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Cry Rooms...A Good Idea Or Not?

Tonight my wife and I dropped off our daughter at a local church dance. There's a lot of churches in Utah, most are the same denomination--Mormon. And since the church as been in the area since 1847, there's a lot of different styles of churches.

About thirty or forty years ago, the church began building their buildings using a standard design. It makes sense--it saves money, time, and space needed for the buildings. New LDS churches look like a big rectangle with a sloped roof. In the center of the building is the chapel on one side and a gym/stage/activity center on the other. Lining the outside of the chapel and gym are classrooms, a kitchen, and administrative offices. It's an efficient, if not boring design. And those church buildings are all over the place in Utah and the surrounding states.

It wasn't always that way. I'm no historian, but I heard that back in the day, they sometimes hired local architects to design the buildings. That was back when church members not only helped finance the churches, but actually help build them as well. Because of that, there's some weirdly designed churches out there. The one where we dropped off our daughter tonight was a little different. We decided to take a little tour, and doing so, we came across a relic, something that used to be in every church.

We saw a cry room.

That might not be their official name, but that's what we called them. Being a member of a church that encourages its members to "be fruitful and multiply the earth," you get a lot of kids. To help the other church-goers better enjoy the service, the churches had rooms set aside for parents and the unruly youngsters to sit away from everyone else.

The church I attended as a youth had just such a room. It was on the second level and a big glass window allowed those parents and their children to look down on the meeting. The cry room we saw tonight was off to the side.

The new churches don't allow for cry rooms, of if they did, it would take some major redesigning. There's a lot to be said about having church members learn patience and long-suffering. Maybe that's why they no longer exist.

Friday, April 27, 2018

An Old VW Bus...Grass Is Always Greener

I saw the classic green VW bus parked on the side of the road. I stopped (thank goodness no other cars were driving by...), and snapped a couple of pictures. These vehicles are seen less and less nowadays--such is life. It's nice to see people taking care of the old cars and vans. I'm sure it's an act of love.

And although I thought it would be cool to actually own one of these ancient (in automobile terms...) vans, I wondered just how cool it would be.

My wife and I almost bought a 1976 VW Westfalia Camper Van back in 1993 or 1994. I think the seller was asking around $2K for the--the seller's term--baby puck green van. I believe most of the camping accessories worked and it had an automatic transmission. We test drove it, but we were never really serious about actually buying it. If we had, and if it were still in the same condition, we could probably get around $10K today, maybe more. I haven't priced 1976 classic VW camper vans lately.

It was very cool, though.

There were other times I've flirted with picking up an old VW van, but, like the camper van, I wasn't serious. The question is, would I actually like having one of these things? Back in high school my friend Darin had a couple of these vans their family drove. To hear him speak, they were not good vehicles. I always drove classic VW beetles. I can only imagine many of the problems I suffered through were also found in the bug's bigger sibling. Things like no heat, no way to defrost the windows. The safety features in these things are non-existent. 

I remember a story my mother told me after I bought my first VW beetle. She couldn't understand why I'd buy a VW. I asked why. She told me. Back when she and my dad lived in Nebraska, she took a several hours-long trip in a VW bus. This must have been in the 1960s. She said it was the longest trip she ever took. It was hot and the bus barely moved. I can only imagine how unpleasant that trip was. As an adult, I know I would have hated that trip, too.

After taking a couple of pictures of the pretty green bus, I drove away in my car, a 2004 Pontiac (built by Toyota...). My car has operational heating and cooling systems. My car has airbags. My car gets 30+ m.p.g. My car has brakes that work, window defrosters that work, windshield wipers that work, a radio that works. I left a vehicle parked on the side of the road that lacks heat, a/c, most likely a nice radio, defrosting systems, and safety systems. There's no way that green thing can compare to what I have.

But still, there's a little slice of me that thinks, owning an old VW bus would be cool.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Decade Earlier...We Rode The Rails

I noticed the sign as I got on the bus this morning. Ten years. It's been ten years since the Frontrunner train began operation. It links the three largest metropolitan areas in Utah. Ten years of transporting commuters, shoppers, students, families to where they needed to go.

I take a bus to work and the train home. I could take the train to work and the bus home (or train/train or bus/bus...), but with my schedule, bus to work and train from work is the best combination for me. 

Ten years.

When I saw the sign this morning I remembered a trip our family took back when the train was new and the UTA (our public transportation system...) offered everyone free rides. We parked the van, crossed the bridge and sat on the benches while waiting for the next train. We asked a stranger to snap a picture of the whole family.

Looking through digital photo albums, I found the picture.

Ten years.

It was the year after my mom passed away and the kids looked so little. They looked that way because they were that little. Today we have three legal adult children and one new teenager. Back then the oldest child was the same age as our youngest is now.

I know many hate the idea of spending millions of taxpayer dollars on public transportation. Personally, I love riding the train. It reminds me of when I lived in Denmark and, a few years later, traveled around Europe. Even though the train came before the automobile, for me there's something more sophisticated about traveling by train. 

I'm glad we have the picture of the family. We don't have a lot of pictures with all of us together. And just think, we have a train to thank for it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Our Instant-ly Ruined Pot...

I was cleaning up after dinner on Sunday when I noticed something strange.

That's strange, I thought. Did the lid on or Instant Pot always have that unusual shape?

The closer I looked at it, the more convinced this was not normal.


We bought our Instant Pot just over a year ago and it's been fantastic. Like most things that I've found fantastic, I blogged about it back in January 2017. It was great back then and it's been a trooper for us ever since. We've used it at least once a week and many times more than that. So, when I was cleaning up dinner last weekend, I noticed a strange contour shape on the lid.

Yup--the lid melted.

I remember (vaguely...) hearing about pressure cookers having issues in the past. I didn't pay much notice. Why should I? Ours was working great. When I saw the misshapen lid on our Instant Pot lid, I thought back on those stories and I wondered if what happened to ours is the same thing that happened to theirs.

I checked the company website, got on an on-line chat, and explained the problem. They said "Check out our replacement lids." I did--all sold out. I don't know when they will be in stock. I asked about any type of warranty. They said "No." I then asked if they felt it would be safe to continue using our pressure cooker (I even included a picture of the lid malfunction...). They recommended we did not use the cooker. That makes sense--we don't want a defective lid keeping highly pressurized boiling water in its place.


Oh well--these things happen. I don't know how much it costs to replace the lid. We'll find out if we decide to do that. The strangest thing for me was trying to figure out how and when it happened. I don't remember it looking that way when we took it off to start dinner. And, based on the way it melted, the lid most likely was turned upside down. When it's upside down, it's also cooling down. Plus, I don't know of a place in our kitchen that could have caused it to get that hot, other than the stovetop. And that wasn't on.


With the Instant Pot out of commission, we went back to the Crock Pot and it did a fine job. We just need to start the food preparation earlier, that's all. Still, I would like to know what happened so it doesn't happen again. We'll see if we ever find out.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

To My Daughter...On Her Birthday

I looked at the blog posts I wrote on April 24th going back seven years. I wondered if I wrote about my daughter on this particular day.

Turns out, I did.

Today my daughter becomes an adult, as far as the law is concerned, at least. She can vote. She can do other stuff eighteen-year olds do.

Parents often times talk about how fast their children grow--how time somehow got away from them. I remember hearing it. Now I'm saying it. I look at pictures of my baby girl and remember her falling asleep as I rocked her, singing to her and reading her stories, her laugh and smile, the way we did her hair with a single pony tail pointing straight up. She grew up with her mom and a house full of boys. She took gymnastics and later ballroom dance. Now she knits, she loves performing, she reads her favorite novels over and over again.

She's also spending time studying colleges and majors, figuring out not only who she is but what she wants to become. The joy of watching them grow up is in stark contrast to the pain of knowing those times are gone forever. There is opposition in all things, after all. The trick is to enjoy the journey. 

So, here's to you, baby girl. You can no longer be called that, at least in the eyes of the law, but to me some things will never change. I hope you have a wonderful birthday that will carry you throughout the year and for the rest of your life.

Love dad.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Jason King And Jon Grundvig's "Thomas Destiny"...A Book Review

When the main character of a middle grade story is named Thomas Destiny, you might think the story will be about something bigger than the normal day-to-day dealings of a jr. high school student. And when you throw in cover art by the supremely talented Carter Reid, you know the pages will contain monsters, magic, unique characters, and a rip-roaring story.

And that's what King and Grundvig deliver.

Thomas Destiny is a great little book. It's a fast read and even though it's official genre is "middle grade," I think it's more relatable to Young Adult, or in the very least, Tween. The cover gives a good indication of the type of action you're going to see in this book. There's death and blood and inter-dimensional travel, betrayal and redemption.

Thomas is your average kid. His adventure begins on a scout campout. Unfortunately for Thomas (and the rest of the troop...), Thomas accidentally unleashes a demon that spreads devastation and death. Thomas, along with another surviving scout embarks on a journey which leads the pair to another dimension where they battle monsters, zombies, and other evil forces all bent on Thomas's destruction. The boy becomes a leader of a band of unusual characters--from a untruthful druid to a green globule being that speaks a language only the druid understands.

I don't know which author is responsible for which sections of the book, but I have read several of Jason King's stories. Much of the humor reminds me of Jason. If you know him, you know he's a very funny guy. But humor is only part of what makes Thomas Destiny such an enjoyable read. The fantasy elements are top-notch, as good as many fantasy series written for older readers. If you're interested in ordering either the digital copy or the hard copy of Thomas Destiny, you can access the Amazon page: HERE.

The by line to the title is, The FATE of the Cosmos couldn't be in LESS capable hands. It's a good summation of what you can expect. If you're up for a good fast read fantasy, give this one a shot.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

You Never Know What You're Going To Get...When You Search For Something

After last night's Utah Jazz win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the player of the game, Ricky Rubio, attended the after-game press conference wearing a F • R • I • E • N • D • S shirt. This caused me to remember a promotional ad NBC created back when they televised the NBA playoffs and when the show Friends was on the air. Many a Jazz fan commented on Ricky's shirt after seeing the press conference. And since we live in an amazing age, I googled the NBC ad and posted the link on Twitter.

You can see the ad: HERE. It's quite funny.

I'm sure if you spend any time on a computer at all you notice that whatever you search for will find eventually become an advertisement. 

Yup--you guessed it. Since I googled "Friends," I saw an ad for friends. Not the show, or anyone associated with the show, but--from what I can ascertain--actual friends. A link for me to find friends at Walmart. I guess they're just waiting for me to somehow pay for them and they'll become my new friends. And, as an added bonus, they're on sale--score!

I never did click on the link. Maybe I should have. I mean, who can't use more friends?

Saturday, April 21, 2018

I've Often Wondered Who Writes Those Messages...For One Day, I Knew

If you live in an area with a transportation system that has more than two lanes for its freeway, there's a good chance you've got those big signs used to notify drivers of current road conditions, Amber Alerts, and other warnings. Where I live, sometimes those signs are used  in a creative manner. There's a state employee (or employees...) with the job of coming up with those cleaver sayings, mostly to remind drivers to obey traffic laws including wearing seatbelts. Wearing seatbelts is a big one.

I've often wondered who comes up with them. A few days ago, I knew exactly who wrote one of the messages. I knew this because of a contest. A prominent state employee came up with an idea. Whoever came up with the best tweet in anticipation of the Utah Jazz vs Oklahoma City NBA playoff series, that tweet would be seen by millions of drivers.

There were some fantastic entries--the top 10 were tweeted. One was chosen. The first time I saw the sign was going to work. It was dark and my phone camera didn't quite catch the message. But driving home, I was able to get a couple of good pictures. The winning entry, if you can't read it, says, 


Then the follow-up screen said,


The person who came up with the contest was Utah's Lt. Governor, Spencer Cox. The creator of the tweet and winner of the contest was Allison Croghan. To make the story even sweeter, Allison is a meteorologist for a local TV news station.

Though I don't have all the expensive weather equipment that are at Allison's disposal, I cannot say with certainty that we have been without thunder since that sign went up on April 16th. I know tonight, as I am writing this post, the Oklahoma Thunder are in town and playing the Jazz. Both teams will play again Monday night. If things go well for the home team, that'll be the last time Thunder is reported in the valley--at least until next season.

Friday, April 20, 2018

First World Problems...Missing The End Of The Game

I feel I should preface this post by stating we live in amazing times. Earlier this week a thought came to me as I drove to work. I have a car and can travel down a road in relative safety at a speed of 70 m.p.h. (the legal speed limit on that particular road...). In my car I was traveling faster than any human being born before the twentieth century had ever traveled.

And that's just one aspect of modern living. When I got to work I spent the day in front of a computer where I could do the work in one day it used to take a hundred employees weeks to do.

What does this have to do with missing the end of a basketball game?

Good question.

Remember back when a televised event took place and if you weren't in front of a TV, you missed it? It wasn't that long ago. Then a genius invented a VCR, and if you could understand it, you could record the event and watch it later.

But the VCR can't hold a candle to what we have now. Wednesday night the Utah Jazz professional basketball team played the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 2 of the first round of the NBA finals. Because we live in amazing times, I set the twenty-first century version of the VCR and recorded the game. Of course I checked the score after the game and was thrilled the Jazz prevailed. And since I had recorded the show, I knew I could catch every second of the back-and-forth, the battles down low, the thrilling ending.

It didn't quit work out that way for me.

Because the game went beyond the allotted time, my recording stopped with exactly two minutes left with the score Jazz - 97, Thunder - 93. In those two minutes of gameplay Utah would score six more points, Oklahoma City two.

I missed those two minutes.

First world problems.

I knew how it ended and if I really wanted to, I could track down the last two minutes on-line. The fact that I can even do that is mind-blowing when you think about it. Yes, we live in amazing times. And that fact that I was unable to watch the last couple of minutes of an amazing game watching amazing athletes is really no big deal.

When you think about it.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

When The News Crews Show Up To Your Work...

I pulled into the work parking lot yesterday at 6:20am. 

A news truck was already there.

I stopped watching local news years ago. I suppose it's good to be informed, but how many stories of suicides, bank robberies, domestic disputes turned ugly, hit and runs, embezzlement cases can one take? The answer--less than the number of stories out there. It just got to the point that when I watched local news, I lost all faith in humanity. Granted, they're supposed to report on "news," which, by definition, should be events out of the ordinary. Hopefully all those awful things are out of the ordinary.

Since I don't follow local stories, I had no idea why the news truck was there. I forgot about it when I got to my cubicle and began working. It wasn't until a co-worker came in and told me about a shooting that took place the night before did I take interest. By that time, a few other trucks had arrived. A UTA bus had a couple of windows shot out the night before. Thankfully, no one was hurt. You can read up about the incident from one of the local news stories: HERE.

Guns have been in the news a lot lately. This is not a post to condemn or excuse them. I can say had I been walking to the train station at the moment when whoever did this pulled out a gun and shot at the bus, I would have been scared to death.

I don't know if this event will make me follow local news more--it's possible. Still, I'd rather believe that people--in general--don't kill each other, don't steal cars, don't rip off older members of their church congregation, don't do inappropriate things to each other. Maybe ignorance is bliss after all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Navigating The Magic...Another New Podcast

Last week I spotlighted a new podcast that focuses on traveling and Disney. This week I began listening to another new podcast. This one's entitled Navigating the Magic. There are many similarities between the two podcasts--both focus heavily on all things Disney, both are local (to me...), both have hosts married to each other, and I've personally done shows with both couples.

And both are making entertaining podcasts.

Navigating the Magic is a little more "seasoned" than the other podcast, Adventure is Out There. As of this writing Navigating has eleven recorded podcast, Adventure has two. 

Navigating the Magic is hosted by Holly and Jace. I met Holly two and a half years ago when she was a performer in Lagoon's Hackenslash Halloween show and I worked as a House Manager. If you know Holly, you know this woman cannot be stopped--in a good way. And because Jace is a supportive spouse, he was a regular guest at many a show. They're good people and they are more than excited about Disney.

Holly and Jace talk a lot about many of the "behind the scenes" of Disney. Holly worked in their Disney University program. And because we live in Utah and have a incredible amount of Disney fans--many of which have also been involved in both their university programs and shows--Holly and Jace have had guests with similar experiences on the podcast. It's been fun to hear about what it's like to be there, to do something very few can do.

The hosts are upbeat and excited in their topic, which is a good thing when creating a podcast, because if they aren't interested and interesting, you won't be interested in their podcast as a listener. If you've ever wondered what it's like to work on the parks, interact with the patrons, and distribute that Disney magic, give this podcast a try. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Goodbye Pic Of The Day Album #13...Hello Album #14!

Yesterday I began a new Pic Of The Day album on Facebook. It's number 14. Each of the previous albums contains 200 photos, so as of last Sunday, I've posted 2600 photos in my Pic Of The Day albums. Looking back at Album #13, it contained a lot of memories. Here's are a few of my favorites.

The first pictures were posted back in September. The one with my son dressed as Link and a baby girl named Zelda was one of the first pictures in the album. 

Number 13 covered all of last autumn and this past winter. I saw pictures from Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. I've got pictures from the show I did at Lagoon last fall, and the Christmas show my daughter and I were in. Good memories.

I included a picture of my favorite Superbowl ad, a sleeping dog, and the last picture of the album, a suggestion to make my son's banana bread better. Yes, there's a lot of memories that happened over the last couple of hundred days. If you have access to my Facebook photos, you can check them out, too. Yesterday I began Album #14. Let's see what the next two-hundred photos bring!

Monday, April 16, 2018

"Dad...You Want To Play A Game?"

Tonight, as I was about to write another blog post (and not really sure what I was going to write about--it happens sometimes...), my youngest son came in and asked if I wanted to join him in playing a game.

I could have said no--I've said no in the past. But I said yes.

Parents, as they get older, reminisce about remembering watching their kids grow up. We remember when the kids learned to ride a bike, learned to catch a baseball, or throw a Frisbee. We remember them climbing into our bed when they are scared at night or not feeling well. We recall loving to hear them laugh at our corny jokes or watch them experience a Disney movie for the first time. We remember all the good times and wish they would never stop.

Of course, do we remember thinking about work the next day when we're out on the street running behind our child hoping they'll not crash as they learn to ride a bike for the first time? Do we inwardly complain when a child climbs into bed thinking we won't get enough sleep? Do we think about how much it costs to get the whole family into the theater to watch a movie, a movie that you could just buy in a few months for the same price?

I think we conveniently forget those times.

I could have said "no" to my son tonight, but I didn't. And as my kids grow up, will they remember tonight's game? Maybe not, but I'd like to think they will. Personally, I hope I never forget.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Crooked Tree...

This morning, as I took a morning walk around the yard with my dog (she and I needed to be outside for totally different reasons...), I noticed our lone apricot tree. It's on the northeast corner of our strange-shaped lot, and it's crooked.

I remember hearing a story from about a man who planted a tree in his yard that grew crooked. If I recall the story correctly, he thought he could put a brace up and right the tree, but when he went to do it, even thought the tree did not look that sturdy, he found it did not want to grow the way he wanted. The morale of the story was to take action early in the growing process. Because if we are allowed to bend to the wills of outside influences, we may not grow straight and true.

I understand the lesson and even agree to the points. But something about it bugs me. When I look at my tree, I see something formed by its circumstances. The reason it bends is due to to the incredible east winds we have living on the side of a mountain.

You can't see it in the picture, but the base of the tree is scarred as if it was scratched by an animal, or nibbled away by a deer. It's amazing it's survived, to be honest. When I look at the tree, I see the tree's history. I see strength. I see a will to live, even with the elements seemingly conspiring against it. I see a little bit of myself in it--scarred by life.

I suppose, if I followed the advice of storytellers and arborists, I should take action--should have taken action years ago to make sure the tree has the best chance of surviving. I wonder if it is allowed to mature for years to come, will it tip over? I don't know. Across the street there's an apricot tree that's been there more than fifty-two years, longer than I've been alive. I wonder if our little tree will outlive my family.

Time will tell.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

James Alderdice's "Brutal"...A Book Review

It took me a few weeks to get through the audiobook of James Alderdice's Brutal. I usually listen while at work and work's been extra busy lately, so I wasn't able to finish the book in a speedy manner. In fact, I started it, listened to the first couple of chapters, then I took a break. I sent the author a message telling him I was enjoying what I had heard so far. He responded back thanking me for the kind words.

I then told him, it was pretty graphic--lots of violence.

He had a classic response,

"Well, it is titled Brutal."


If you are prone to judging books by their covers, take a look at Brutal. What do you see, front and center? A bloody sword. That's basically what you're going to get in the pages of this book. A man who wields the sword has no name; he's known as The Sellsword, and he's very good at using that sword to end lives, and fight for justice.

In the world created by Alderdice, a sword must be used to battle the evil brought by paladins and wizards. The world is gritty, a word, brutal. The author puts you in the room, in the action. And how he describes the duchess, you'd swear she stepped straight from a Frank Frazetta painting.

I don't watch Game of Thrones, or other type shows. And truth be told, I might not have chosen this particular book, except for a couple of reasons. It's getting great reviews, and I know the author and want him to succeed. If you like a story that combines gore and humor and justice and evil and more gore, you'll enjoy this book. You can order it on the Amazon page: HERE. Give it a shot--it's both grim and dark. Well done, James!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Shoes...What Is It About Shoes?

I've seen the ads on TV, on the internet, even in print. What are they selling? Women's shoes. I think we all know someone who goes gaga over shoes. I remember seeing an ad on TV where you can sign up to receive a new pair of shoes every month for a low monthly fee. 

I thought, that's amazing. In no time at all, a person's house would be just full of shoes. How can anyone want so many shoes? I know they come in all shapes, designs, and colors, but come on--there ought to be a limit.

I don't have a lot of material things that I collect, but apparently, I collect shoes. I found and bought another pair today. I've got a lot of shoes. But am I as crazy about shoes as the people who have them sent every month?

I might be, but I don't think so. Here's why.

Last year the shoes I've been wearing to work for more than a decade decided to fall apart. They were so good, I decided to spend the extra money and spring for a new pair of shoes for work. I usually buy my shoes from a thrift store. Last month I scored on a couple of pairs of Allen Edmonds shoes. I didn't necessarily need them, but I bought them anyway. Both pair cost less than $10. That's hard to pass up.

Today, while browsing at our local thrift store, I found a pair of Vans. I've thought about getting a pair for a while, but I wasn't about to pay full price. Not because they're not good shoes--it's just I don't need them. I can't justify buying new shoes that I don't need.

Another reason why I don't think I'm like a shoe fanatic is because I usually buy name brand shoes. I found a pair of Converse lot tops at the thrift store--I bought them. Today it was a pair of Vans. If I saw a pair that looked like Vans but weren't Vans, I would not have picked them up.

I should probably get rid of a couple of the pairs I don't wear very often. Maybe I will. But there's a good chance I'll probably bring home another pair of someone else's shoes before that happens. That is, if I go gaga after them.