New Content Poll

As I gear up for the second half of the year with new posts, I’d really like to get your input to maximize our time together!  I’v dedicated myself to updating my site regularly this year, and I want to make sure that I bring you all along with me!  I’ve introduced a few new series this year and have another one or two on the way.  But don’t worry, I’ll still be featuring more posts from the already existing series.  I have a lot of ideas for articles that will hopefully be fun and enjoyable.  Possibly even thought-provoking.  We’ll see what happens.

Having said all of that, I want to make sure the content is available when it’s most convenient for you!  I started a preliminary poll on my Facebook page, but that hasn’t been as thorough as I’d like, so I’m going to try it again on here.  WordPress gives some pretty incredible analytics regarding site stats and usage data, but the most common days and times for visits has kind of been all over the place, so I figure I’ll just go straight to the source!  Please weigh in below, and leave any additional info in the comments at the bottom!  I’d love to hear from you and make my posts/site/content as user-friendly as possible!

Thanks for your input and support!

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Book Review: The Doomsday Clock

This one has been a long time coming, and I’m excited to finally get to share my thoughts with you.  As I’ve made abundantly clear, Patrick J. O’Brian is one of my favorite authors and biggest inspirations.  He’s also the most prolific writer I know, having almost twenty book credits to his name.  I’ve read most of them, but hold his West Baden Murders Series in high regard.  This is the series that introduced me to O’Brian, leading me to his other works.

So with that, it only seems fitting that I write a recap of my experience with the most recent entry into the series.  Right off the bat, you’ll notice that The Doomsday Clock (West Baden Murders Series Book 6) is a lengthy read and covers a lot of story line.  There are a wealth of characters, spanning across several of O’Brian’s other books and series.  The West Baden Springs Hotel takes a backseat in this entry, as the story bounces  from French Lick, Indiana, to the Bering Sea, the Kentucky Derby, and eastern New England. Continue reading

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Literary Locations: West Baden Murders Series

I’ve told this story too many times to count, but I discovered the works of Patrick J. O’Brian by happenstance while perusing the gift shop at West Baden Springs Resort & Hotel.  He had written a murder mystery trilogy (at the time) set in the historic location.  I was fascinated by the idea of reading a mystery featuring the location where I was staying so I gave it a shot.  When I realized we lived in the same area, I fanboyed out a little bit and may have resorted to a small amount of internet stalking.  I don’t really like to use words like “stalking,” but that’s what the police called it, so…anyway.  It all worked out for the best and the rest is history.

That trilogy, aptly named The West Baden Murders Series has since turned into a series of six books with more possibly on the way.  Recently, I found myself holed up in the resort for a work conference.  (Darn the bad luck, huh?? That place is nothing short of amazing!)  Once the daily sessions ended for the conference, I couldn’t resist the urge to venture around the grounds and snap some pictures of locations from the series.  Yes, I’m a nerd, and I’m totally fine with that.  So let’s check out some of the sights then, shall we?

The arched entrance to the hotel. This landmark doesn’t serve much of a role in the series, other than getting a mention or two upon characters arriving at the resort. What better way to kick off a virtual photo tour than at the beginning of the property? Continue reading

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Author Spotlight: Patrick J. O’Brian

The next author to be featured in this series has arguably been the biggest influence in my writing career.  Before I ever started the first draft of my first short story, I discovered the work of Patrick J. O’Brian by pure happenstance.  My wife and I took a weekend getaway to an amazing resort that our friends had told us about in southern Indiana.  Tucked into the hills in the French Lick area, the West Baden Springs Resort is a hidden gem in a very unassuming, tiny, rural area.  Once we got checked into our room, we were scoping out the gift shop when I stumbled across a book with an interesting cover called Reaper.  I read the blurb on the back of the book and it instantly grabbed my interest.  It seemed to be a murder mystery/thriller that was set in the hotel, so what better way to get acquainted with the resort than to read a story about a murderer hunting on the premises while you’re staying there?

Reaper (West Baden Murders Trilogy Book 1) by [O'Brian, Patrick J.]

After purchasing the book, I flipped to the “About the Author” section and learned that O’Brian serves as a firefighter in the same town where I worked.  I’ve mentioned before how the thought never occurred to me that authors are mere mortals and not fictional superheroes that live in mansions on the coast, or high-rise condos in New York City, or a luxurious, isolated cabin in the woods.  That was, until I learned about O’Brian.  Being in such close proximity to a published author completely blew my mind.  I went out on a limb and reached out to him on Facebook, asking if we could meet so I could get my book signed and also to talk about writing.  I prayed that he wasn’t too weirded out by my forward request, and he probably was, but he still agreed to meet with me in a very public, well-populated area.  Ever since, he has been a massive inspiration to me and I’d like to say that I consider him a friend at this point.  Whether he considers me one in return is up to him, but he can’t deny me calling him a friend of mine at least!  Enough of my babbling, let’s get to the interview now, huh? Continue reading

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“The Starry Night”

Awhile back I mentioned that I had a couple of poems selected for a poetry anthology.  My submissions centered on the night sky, and one thought in particular jumped straight into my head once I had the topic.  “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most famous and recognizable paintings in the history of humans, so it was only natural for that imagery to leap directly into my forethought.  Now anybody could write a description of the painting based on its layers, texture, movement, and whatever the hell that giant black blob is in the foreground, but I wanted to put a spin on it.

Much like my short stories lately, I couldn’t just write something straight forward.  I needed a small plot twist somewhere in there.  So instead of focusing on the painting, I started looking at it through the eyes of the creator.  I honestly wasn’t sure if I was capable of pulling off my idea when it first came to me, before I started working on it, but I think it turned out pretty okay!  I’m including the poem in its full glory below, complete with the Van Gogh background, but the size isn’t ideal in order to read it on here, so I’ll post the text below the image.  (Or the image should open in a new window if you click on it.  Maybe.  Possibly.)  Let me know in the comments below if you think I pulled off the plot twist! Continue reading

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Book Review: Princess Olive

It’s been awhile since I wrote a book review, and there’s a reason for that; it’s been awhile since I’ve actually read a book!  When I came across Princess Olive by Jonathan Degler, I had no choice.  I had to read it.  (Partly because he asked me for editing help, but there was never a question that I was going to read it regardless.)  So I did.  And boy am I glad!

**Oh yeah, in the interest of full disclosure, I had a part in the editing of this book so feel free to be advised of that.  It doesn’t impact my overall thoughts on the story, but people tend to feel the need to know things like this.**

As a big, bad biker who works in the criminal justice system, books about teenage princesses typically don’t hit my radar.  Throw in the fact this title falls under the fantasy genre, introduces magical beings, is set in medieval times, and this story checks all the boxes for books that I generally ignore when I’m looking for my next read.  But when the author is a close friend, of course I had to check it out!  (For clarification, I’m not bashing any of those things that I just mentioned, they just aren’t usually in my realm of interests.  If magic and castles are your thing, then there’s nothing wrong with that at all – I just don’t happen to be a big fantasy aficionado.)  Continue reading

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Blogumentary: Writer’s Block

 

The biggest villain for any writer isn’t the one they write about in their works.  It’s the one that lurks in the shadows and preys on the innocent.  It’s a hideous beast that sucks creativity out of creators and inspiration out of artists.  Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit dramatic.  I tend to have a flair for it, after all.  Regardless of my wording, the sentiment remains.  Writer’s Block is a beast that lives in dark alleys of the mind, and nobody wants to talk about it out loud.  Mentioning it is akin to talking about a no-hitter in baseball.  If you bring it up, you’re just tempting fate and jinxing yourself.  Or so they say.  Yet here I am writing a whole post about it, so that should tell you how smart I am!

So is it actually a real thing, or some mythical concept that mustn’t ever be spoken of?  If it exists, then what is it? Where does it come from and what causes it?  It really all depends on who you ask.  I personally think most writers have experienced it in some fashion to some degree, but there are other writers who refuse to acknowledge it.  It’s not some scary monster hiding in your closet or under your bed waiting to eat your brilliant ideas as you think of them, so no worries there.  In reality, writer’s block comes from a creative lull or the inability to create original ideas.  For whatever reason, sometimes people just struggle to be creative.  Writer’s block isn’t some physical hurdle that one must overcome like a giant wall, but it is a mental obstacle that can be just as daunting.  And typically, the longer it lasts, the harder it is to shake.  The longer it hangs around, the more space it creates for self doubt to creep in.  “Well what if I never think of anything original ever again?”  “Maybe I should just give up.”  And so on.

Why does it happen?  This question needs a paragraph all to itself (since I didn’t answer it the first time I asked up above).  There is a myriad of reasons why people find themselves tripping over the writer’s block pothole of life.  (Sorry, I live in Indianapolis where potholes are always a clear and present danger.)  Pressure: fast approaching deadlines, or trying to follow up success.  Stress: changes in brain activity due to outside factors such as health, finances, or really any major life change.  Motivation: maybe due to the lack of a deadline, or just generally not feeling inspired.  I could go on and on with reasons and excuses, but I think you probably get the idea.

Let’s take a look at a sampling of responses on this topic with a few author friends of mine, shall we?

What are your thoughts on “writers block?” Do you think it’s a real thing? If so, how long does it usually last and what methods do you use to get past it?

Patrick J. O’Brian

For me, writer’s block is usually not knowing exactly where I want the plot to go next, or what I want the characters to say in a key conversation. There are those major turning points in every book, and I like to get them right, so I stew about it until the right scenario finally comes to me. That’s my writer’s block. 

Andrew Miller:

Writer’s block is an accurate way of describing the feeling associated with a lack of motivation. You could just call it a lack of motivation. For me I find having a deadline helps. Not a self-imposed deadline, there’s not enough shame in ignoring that. A deadline imposed by an outside party, particularly one that offers some sort of prompt. With both of those items in hand I can write.

What I refuse to beat myself up over is not writing when my non-writing-life prevents it. Writing is emotionally draining. The writer is constantly drawing from their own emotional and mental well for the sake of creating fully formed characters – even in non-fiction – and that can’t happen if the writer’s own life is in chaos. This too can be called writer’s block, but really it is just life.

Christian Scully:

Writer’s block is definitely a real thing. Personally, it can last from a week or two up to a few months. It’s really draining on my writing process and motivation. To get over it, I usually have a playlist of songs I feel my characters would listen to. Just getting into their head seems to help usually.

Adam K. Moore:

Definitely a real thing for me. Some days, it’s just not going to happen. I’ve sat and stared at a blank document for quite some time. Writers block is a real thing, though there are ways to cope with it.

So what is a writer supposed to do when they hit the wall with writer’s block?  As you may have noticed from the quotes above, different people seem to use different tactics.  Each method is effective for that individual, and that’s why they do it.  Some may change the time of day to write, while others use music when writing.  Depending on their normal tendency, maybe they opt for silence instead of music.  Some might brainstorm about another project to try to get their creative juices kick-started, or possibly they’ll write an unrelated short story.

A strategy I’ve employed in the past is jumping ahead in the story and then coming back later to bridge the gap.  When I was writing Crossroads I came to a point where I had no clue where to take the story.  I knew where I wanted it to end up, but I couldn’t figure out how to get there for the life of me.  One of my friends told me to start writing the next plot point and see if that might help me just get back in the rhythm of writing.  It worked beautifully.  As soon as I got re-engaged with the story I was able to go back and connect the dots rather quickly.  That method might not work for everybody depending on your writing style and how much plotting you do before you start writing the first draft, but it worked for me and that will be my go-to strategy in the future as well.

Basically what I’m getting at is this: writer’s block is a very real thing, and every writer has to find their own way of dealing with it.  There’s no one guaranteed method that’ll cure writer’s block for everybody.  Try something that you think might work.  If it doesn’t, then try something else.  There’s no right or wrong way to get through it, as long as you keep trying.

Thank you, that is all.

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