Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Birthdays and Book Day

Since I was seven years old, I wanted to write and publish a book. It's the item on my bucket list that I've neglected the longest. Well, not anymore. I have to find another awesome goal to totally put off for way too long.

Because bucket list item: Write and publish a book?

On New Years, I didn't want to set any resolutions. I'm perfectly perfect how I am (well, I'm perfectly happy with my life) that I didn't see any reason to change any of it. Then I thought to myself, "Self, I don't need a resolution, how about a goal. What do I want to accomplish this year?" 

And in answered, "Our birthday is in a few weeks. Think you could get that running book you've been sitting on all these years out by then?"

And I marveled at such a brilliant thought. I'd written it, all it needed was another editing pass, and then click a few buttons and boom, publication! That easy, right?


Remind myself to never rush a book like that again. I haven't had a decent light's sleep before committing to pull that off. 

However, as I write this, I am three hours shy of my birthday. I wanted to share my birthday with my book launch day, but it ended I must have missed specifying where Amazon gave me an option to specify a date and it went on sale a day before I wanted it to.

Good grief.

I'm sure I have only myself to blame, but this morning people started telling me, writing me, messaging me, and commenting on Facebook that they bought a copy. Fine, fine, but in my mind I'm still considering the release to be February 25th, because it isn't like I need yet ANOTHER date to memorize.

I can hear you behind your computer screen saying, "Tell me about the book. Stop rambling and tell me already!"

Okay! Sheesh. You're getting really pushing in my old age. 

My book is called Pushing the Wall: a Memoir. It's a memoir, about walls, and pushing them to--, you know what, let me just use the blurb I wrote back when I could think straight:

Pushing the Wall: A Memoir
What kind of idiot would run a marathon without training for it first? Me.  
I’d know the horror stories. Endurance athletes always fear “hitting the wall,” or reaching the point where the body runs out of energy and BAM! Roadkill. With no preparation, I’d most likely smash into this wall hard enough to leave a dent. 
I wanted to train for the 2010 St. George Marathon, but after breaking my foot, the only marathon I could handle was on Netflix. When the race came, I just wanted to pick up the shirt I paid for, but peer pressure and the energy of the other 6,000 runners convinced me to try it anyway. My plan? Push the wall past the finish line, grab some ice cream, crawl into my truck, and then drive home. 
This memoir details my love/hate affair with running and how I survived 26.2 grueling miles that I had no business attempting. I also include tips for new runners. It’s whimsical, yet educational. It’s whimsucational!

I don't want to spoil the ending too much, but I will give you one hint how it turns out: I did not take first place.

The speed-demon who did, Aaron Metler, was nice enough to write the foreward to Pushing the Wall, so you can get the inside scoop of running a marathon from a winner's perspective.

I'm really excited for February 25th. I turn 29 again and my first book is (in my eyes) officially released. Also, the fabulous girls at Loving the Book are throwing me a launch party on Facebook at 6:00 PM mountain time. There will be much chatting, celebrating, and--most important--giving away some fun, fabulous prizes. Please, join us, I think it will be a blast! Here's the link:

Pushing the Wall Online Launch Party

I'm publishing exclusively through Amazon for now, sorry Nook and iBook readers. You can still get it in paperback. Here are the links for the book and the ebook:

Pushing the Wall: a Memoir Paperback Edition
Pushing the Wall: a Memoir Kindle Edition

I hope if you pick it up, that you find as much enjoyment reading it as I did putting it together.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

What Makes a Hero?

To me, the best villains are convinced they are actually the hero. When writing, remember: Every character is the good guy in the story. When you analyze the point of view of any character, including the villain, you must understand their motivations. Examples:

1) Voldemort wants to rid the world of muggles, an impure race who would wage war in a heartbeat upon wizards and witches if they knew they existed (which, while a little racist, probably isn't far from the truth). This is also the motivation of X-men's Magneto.

2) Darth Vader wishes to keep peace and order in the Universe.

3) Even in Ender's Game (spoiler alert), the formics just didn't know better, and they'd see Ender and his Army as the villain. Ender even recognized the villain in himself by how he handles Stilson, Bonzo, and eventually the formics. In the sequels, the universe regards Ender as the villain.

4) The Joker (Heath Ledger's version) wants to reveal the hypocrisy of people. The world would be better if people just showed their true colors and stop hiding behinds their (metaphorical and literal) masks.

Making sure the villain of your story sees themselves as the good guy is a great way to build complex, interesting, and believable villains. And stories.

Consider this clip from Cracked about Firefly.

It isn't a big revelation that Firefly is a show about the bad guys. Viewers have justified that, sure, the crew of Firefly aren't the nicest people, but the Alliance is worse. Also, Mal is interesting, funny, good looking, and has a soft spot for people on the run from the government. Obviously the good guy, right?

One thing that I liked about the Cracked discussion is the possibility that the Alliance are actually pretty nice dudes with the benevolent motive of educating, feeding, protecting, and taking care of its citizens. Dealing with criminals is something all governments--good and bad--have to deal with. Firefly could have been the story of a government marshal tasked to stop the thieves/pirates causing chaos and trouble from The Serenity.

In the end, Mal and his crew still consider themselves the heroes.

Consider your story. If you could retell it from the point of view of your villain, you are on track to writing something interesting and fun to read. Who knows? Maybe you'll consider the villain's position and decide that the story is better told that point of view.

Don't forget your side characters. They aren't just there to move the plot forward; they also have wants, motivations, desires, and back stories. They see themselves as the hero. Take Luna, Neville, and Snape from the Harry Potter stories. While they don't go toe-to-toe with Voldemort like Harry does, they are all heroes in their own minds (and mine as well). They are all rich, wonderful characters who have to make hard choices to combat wickedness. Just like the hero. That series could easily be re-written from their points of view and be amazing stories. I would pick up Snape's story in a heartbeat, if Rowling wrote it.


Note: I know, I've been neglecting this blog. I need to change that. Also, I still owe you a post on the Duckett Reader Awards. I'll get to it this month, I'm just slammed!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

SwitchPoint Grand Opening, St. George Book Festival Writing Workshop, and Literacy Charity Dinner.

This Friday (October 24th), a lot is happening in St. George, UT! It's the grand opening of SwitchPoint, a writing workshop, and a literacy charity dinner.

SwitchPoint Grand Opening

First, it is the grand opening of The SwitchPoint Community Resource Center, St. George's primary weapon for combating homelessness in the area. It isn't just a homeless shelter and a pantry, they also provide several resources on-site to help those less fortunate get on their feet, obtain employment, and get into a home.
SwitchPoint Community Resource Center (Artist's Rendering)
It's very innovative; I've heard there is only one other center like this in the country. If you are around, the grand opening and ribbon cutting is at noon. There will be prizes (they're giving away a new car), elected politicians (Mayor Pike and Senator Lee will be there), food, and great fun to be had. Information can be found by clicking here.

If you aren't around, you can still help them out, and it will only cost you a minute of your time. That minute can make a huge difference. All you have to do is sign up for Amazon Smiles. It doesn't cost anything to do this, and it doesn't raise your prices on Amazon or anything like that. Just sign up, and whenever you purchase something form Amazon, a small percentage of it will be donated directly to SwitchPoint.

Click here to learn more about he grand opening and Amazon Smiles.

St. George Book Festival Writing Workshop

The St. George Book Festival is going on right now, but (to me) the real highlights of the festival starts on Friday with its writing workshop. They'll have several classes from 9am to 5pm. The best part is that it is FREE! It is at Dixie State University and they do provide lunch for $15, where you can eat and mingle with the authors.

Most of you know my involvement with The Authors' Think Tank. Two other administrators of the ATT, Mikey Brooks and Jaclyn Weist, will be presenting. Glancing at the list, it looks like it is going to be a full day with some excellent instruction.

For more information, click here.

Literacy Charity Dinner

Dean Hughes
Friday night ends with a charity dinner to benefit literacy. The dinner is $40 with proceeds benefiting the Washington County School District Foundation and The St. George Children's Museum. In attendance will be all the special guests for the book festival; my boss, Mayor Jon Pike, and his family; and the Keynote Speaker, Best-Selling Author Dean Hughes, who will speak on the topic, "What do we need books for anyway?"

Oh, I'll be there too, so please say hello if you go.

It sounds like an excellent opportunity to fill our stomaches with grub, our minds with knowledge, and our hearts through charity.

For more information, click here.