On Writing: More Fall Photo Inspirations

100_0907

 

I decided to have lunch outside today at my favorite nearby park.  I packed some chicken salad, grabbed my camera, and headed out.

I hope that you enjoy the photographs and that they inspire you to write!

100_0952

The fall season is one of my favorites because of all the colorful trees and bushes.  The area where I live is nice because of all the parks and forest preserves.  I like to walk along this specific path near the park.  You may have noticed pictures of this fence previously on my blog!

100_0924

 

There is a railroad track through this area.

100_0930

This is one of my favorite pictures from today.

100_0934

 

One last burst of fall colors.100_0953I also took some photos of what can only be categorized as “spooky trees.”  I will share them closer to Halloween.

Chris

 

2 Comments

Filed under On Writing

On Writing: Inspirations from Fall

100_2529100_2535 (2)100_2534

 

 

I hope that you all enjoy and that the pictures inspire you to write!

Chris

Leave a comment

Filed under On Writing

5 Minutes with Daniel Ausema

Spire City

This is a chance to learn a bit more about Daniel Ausema. Season One episodes 7-13 of his Spire City episodes will be published by Musa on October 17th.

Daniel Ausema

 Website: http://danielausema.blogspot.com

 Twitter: @ausema

What I love most about writing . . . I love creating. Taking an idea and bringing it to life is, well, it’s why I write. There’s something inspiring and immensely rewarding in drawing strands of imagination out of the swirl of my brain and weaving them together in new ways. I also love words themselves, the feel and sound and tricky ways they can work. So writing combines those two things. You mean I get to sit here and imagine new worlds? You mean these slippery little critters we call words are there for me to just arrange however I want? Yes. That’s something I can get behind.

The toughest thing about writing . . . Editing.There are always so many new ideas waiting to be written. So I find distractions, like answering interview questions instead of tackling the next round of edits… I’m getting better at it, I think. At least, I don’t dread it as much as I once did. But still, there’s always that next story. And the one after that. And a poem to write in between.

If I wasn’t a writer, I would be . . . Probably a teacher. Probably not in a typical classroom, though. I used to do experiential education before my kids were born. I was a lead facilitator at a ropes course, working especially with high school groups. I was good at getting the kids involved, getting them invested in things that, with a less skilled facilitator, could have easily just come off as cheesy and forgettable. (I did some traditional classroom teaching as well, so I could see myself doing more of that as well.)

When I am writing, I listen to . . . Silence. When I first started taking my writing more seriously, I was home with our infant firstborn, and we were living in a fairly small apartment. So my writing time was his nap time, and silence was the key to keeping him asleep. Even after it wasn’t necessary, I’d gotten used to not needing any music. I don’t need silence either anymore—you learn to write despite the sounds of the kids playing their own make-believe games or doing their Wii games or whatever. Once in a while I’ll think to turn on my own music as well, but more often it just slips my mind as I start writing.

Favorite Novels: 

If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino. There are so many books I’ve loved, and even the recent list I posted on my blog of the thirteen most influential books felt very limiting. Give me a different time, a different place, and I’d feel a strong connection to a dozen others. But this is the one that I keep coming back to as a favorite. Thirteen novels begun, each in a different style and mode, each interrupted after the first chapter and never completed.

Favorite Sport Team:

Any team from Detroit/the state of Michigan. I actually follow sports more closely now than when I lived there. I think it’s my psychological way to keep some tenuous connection to where I grew up—I lived in West Michigan until after college and on the east side of the state for another few years before we moved to Colorado. But even now, I’d rather be out playing sports than watching them, so I mostly just follow the results and check in on the latest score (sometimes every few minutes in a close game) without actually watching the games.

Advice to aspiring authors:

Be curious. Be open. Don’t just shut down an idea because it seems too stupid or crazy or difficult or cliche or original or anything. But also don’t just blindly follow a new idea without pushing yourself to take that idea a little further. Great improv comedians will say that your answer to a fellow comedian should never be “No, but..” but always “Yes, and…” The same goes for writing. Yes I’ve got this crazy idea, and here’s where it goes from there… And then keep your wildly uncontrollable subconscious as open as you can as you set out to discover what comes next.

 

Spire City

 

Spire City is home to mighty machines of steam power and clockwork, and giant beetles pull picturesque carriages over cobbled streets, but there is a darker secret behind these wonders. A deadly infection, created by a mad scientist, is spreading through the city, targeting the poor and powerless, turning them slowly into animals. A group of those infected by the serum join together to survive, to trick the wealthy out of their money, and to fight back.

http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=38

Leave a comment

Filed under 5 Minutes With: Author Interviews

Milo James Fowler Cover Reveal

 

Yakuza Territory

 

 Yakuza Territory by Milo James Fowler will be available November 7, 2014 from Musa Publishing.       Website    Facebook Amazon    Twitter

 

A detective with no way out.  A telepath with something to prove…

Struggling to survive the night, one private eye must rely on his wits to solve a mystery where he’s outnumbered, outgunned, and trapped inside a police station with a soulless killing machine.

 

I enjoy helping my fellow authors get the word out about their publications and I wish Milo the best of fortune with his new work!

Chris

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Reading

Reading: The Former Hero by Jeffrey Allen Mays

The Former HeroThe Former Hero, by Jeffrey Allen Mays, is a complex novel that I can foresee re-reading several times. I attended a launch party for the novel on Facebook and was fortunate enough to win a signed copy. After receiving it in the mail and reading the first few chapters, I went to my iPad and ordered the e-book from Amazon. Yes—I am the type of person that likes to save (or perhaps preserve) exceptional paperback and hardcover books. The Former Hero paperback will have a special place in my library.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Where to begin this book review is problematic for me because there are so many good aspects to the writing. The sense of place, the mythology of the hero, the concepts of good versus evil, the religious allegory, and the rich tapestry of characters created by the author are all stand-out aspects in the novel.

Sense of Place

When the story begins, it could be set in a modern suburban neighborhood where kids play outside during the summer, have tea parties with dolls, chase butterflies in nearby fields, and draw on the sidewalk with colored chalk. Quickly, though, Mays begins to add layers to this world that only appears ideal on the surface.   Readers learn the police rarely, if ever, patrol the neighborhoods. Laws are simply not enforced. The Mayor, Robert Knox, corrupted the police force and employs madmen and costumed villains with names like “The Bombardier,” “Taser,” and “Viper” to keep the populace under control. The closer the characters get to the geographic center of the city, the worse the corruption grows. Children are kidnapped for the sex trade. Women are sold into forced marriages. People are murdered in the street. Good cops, like one of the main characters, Lt. McCarthy, are few and far between.

What gives story world an additional depth is the research that Lt. McCarthy conducts into the history of the town and the supervillain known as The Minstrel. This type of research is banned by the Mayor, but because of McCarthy’s connections in the police force, he is able to find documents about the earliest settlement in the area. Readers learn about the town from the first settlement days when the physical embodiment of evil, The Minstrel, pulled up to a wooden platform and disembarked from a stagecoach. How the townspeople first fell into corruption—how the Minstrel was able to work her brand of psychological destruction until the townspeople were stained by evil and despair—is slowly revealed through the first-hand accounts available in these historical documents.

Characters

Mays creates his characters with an impressive level of complexity. They are heroes and they are villains; they are flawed human beings and they are monsters; they are drifters, loners, detectives, hypocrites, and sometimes saviors. They might be imbued with mystical powers or they might be insane. Reading through the novel, which shifts section-by-section through various character points-of-view, lets the readers “see” each character from multiple perspectives. For example, readers are introduced to The Former Hero, John Common, through his own rather convoluted thoughts, through the experiences of Penny, a child whose cat he once rescued from a tree, through various reports of so-called health care professionals who work for the Mayor, through flashbacks, through interactions with villains, and through observations of other main characters like Lt. McCarthy.

Part of the enjoyment of the novel is siphoning through these observations to reach the “truth” of the characters. Is John Common the hero Omni-man who has been poisoned and trapped by the Mayor and his henchmen in a medical institution or is he simply a man with delusions of special abilities? Did he save a young man named Jimmy Noble by compassionately healing The Viper’s physical deformities, or did he murder Noble as The Viper claims? Did he really save the city over and over again, or is he mad?

Seriously—Major Spoilers Ahead!

 

Religious Allegory

Years ago when I first read A Light in August, by William Faulkner, my American Lit Professor made a comment that has stuck with me to this day. He said that authors take particular care in naming characters, and if an author uses a name with the initials of J.C., readers should look for an analogy to Jesus Christ. This struck me with the character of John Common in The Former Hero, whose super powers dealt with healing and helping people put past torments in perspective so they can move on and live a better life.

The super villain known as The Minstrel also has an analogy in the Christian religion. Much like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, she started the townspeople on the path to corruption. She is still there in the current day, literally worshiped by the Mayor and his people. As Lt. McCarthy learns through studying the town’s history, she began by sowing discord, and then managed to tempt the wife of one of the settlers, Eva Calhoun, who then tempted her husband, Adam. Instead of the gift of knowledge, though, The Minstrel offers the gift of beauty. It is a false gift and Mays’s description of the temptation, and the fall of Eva and Adam, is one of the most chilling and disturbing scenes in the novel. Adam’s father eventually catches The Minstrel and curses her so her skin changes and becomes scaly like a serpent. He does not disown Adam and Eva completely, but banishes them from their beautiful Eden-like farm in the countryside to live in the now-corrupt town.

 

The Former Hero, by Jeffrey Allen Mays, is not a novel to be read quickly; it is something to be enjoyed and savored; to be analyzed and discussed among friends. It has elements of a mystery, a gritty urban crime drama, a noir detective story, and a superhero comic book. It has a mixture of action, adventure, mythology, philosophy, and spine-tingling horror. It is a novel that readers will continue to re-visit in their own libraries for years to come.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Reading

COLOSSAL ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

with Musa Publishing
Grand Prize
$15.00 Musa Gift Certificate
6 Paperback Books
Baiting the Hook by Mary Palmer & David Wilton
Brothers in Crime by KM Rockwood
Legends of the Timekeepers by Sharon Ledwith
Indian Shirt Story by Heather Lockman
Pantheon by Josh Strnad
Windy City Heat by Remi Hunter
1st Place Winner
$10.00 Musa Gift Certificate
6 Paperback Books
Baiting the Hook by Mary Palmer & David Wilton
Brothers in Crime by KM Rockwood
Legends of the Timekeepers by Sharon Ledwith
Indian Shirt Story by Heather Lockman
Pantheon by Josh Strnad
Windy City Heat by Remi Hunter
2nd Place Winner
$5.00 Musa Gift Certificate
5 Paperback Books
Cairo in White by Kelly Ann Jacobson
Chasing Athens by Marissa Tejada
First Frost by Liz DeJesus
Who Wacked Roger Rabbit by Gary K. Wolf
Windy City Heat by Remi Hunter
3rd Place Winner
5 Paperback Books
Cairo in White by Kelly Ann Jacobson
Chasing Athens by Marissa Tejada
First Frost by Liz DeJesus
Who Wacked Roger Rabbit by Gary K. Wolf
Windy City Heat by Remi Hunter
Plus
Beginning October 1, 2014 we draw 2 winners a day and they will each receive 3 books
And
All participants receive a download of Cooking with Musa.
All entrants are eligible for Grand Prize and Other Drawings October 15, 2014
Winners announced October 16, 2014
Enter daily to win!
No particular order to the daily drawings for the books below

Random Survival by Ray Wenck
TRUE blue by Susan Rae
Chasra: The Homecoming by Joanne Hirase

Drowning Cactus by Carrie Russell
To Catch A Fish by Mary Pamer & David Wilton
Lies in Wait by Donna Del Oro

Question of Time by Mary S. Palmer
Glass Frost by Liz DeJesus
The Andersen Ancestry by Addie J. King

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest begins October 1, 2014 and ends midnight CST October 14, 2014. All winners announced October 16, 2014.
Winners who reside outside the Continental United States will receive their prize in e-book format.
All prizes must be claimed by October 20, 2014 or they are forfeited. Prizes will be shipped October 22, 2014.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Guest Blog Post at Penumbra

writingHello Everyone,

Please check out my guest blog post at Penumbra:

http://penumbraezine.blogspot.com/

I hope that you enjoy!

Chris

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized