Monthly Archives: November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Shout Out

thanksgivingSo, as I’m sure many bloggers are doing this on Thanksgiving I wanted to make sure I take some time and thank everyone who has made an impact in my life over the past couple months. Below is a list of everything I have been thankful for as of late. This list isn’t all inclusive, just the ones that come to mind.

 

1) My family: I couldn’t be more thankful for them. Minus a small portion they have provided the means for me to make the dream of publishing my first book come true. Don’t get me wrong, I am still in so much debt that sometimes I have trouble sleeping at night but they considerably reduced it and are always my personal salesman always telling people about my book.

2) My friends: Over the past 2 months now I have gone through a large transitional phase in my life and I think it’s only going to continue to grow and no one has been there more for me than my friends. They have been reassuring me that the choice I made was a best course solution and have helped me cope with loneliness and have done many things to get my mind off of the past. Not only that, but they have supported me in my book endeavors too and, although I’m not sure if they are actually interested in hearing me rant all the time, they listen to me rant about the struggles of me self-publishing a book and the financial strain I feel at all times.

3) My readers: For those of you who have supported me and actually bought a book from me, thank you. For those of you who have not only bought a book, but have read it as well and have helped me get the momentum rolling with the book, an even bigger thanks. I truly hope you enjoyed it, and for those of you who haven’t read it yet, but have it, well I hope you like it. It was a project six years in the making and it’s always really scary pouring your heart and soul into something and then giving it to the public to judge and hope they like it. So far (knock on wood) it has gotten good reviews, but there is never any such things as too many good reviews. So, if you finish the book and enjoyed it please please please rate it on Goodreads and on Amazon and give it a good rating.

4) My future roomies at Whitewater: Although I haven’t officially moved in there yet, I am super happy of the place I have in Whitewater. It is perfect location to everything. As any transfer student is I’m sure living with random people you always wonder “Okay, are these people just going to stick around their friends, or be inclusive?” Well, I am super happy that my roommates are the latter. They are super inclusive and I think that is awesome and it only helps me get acclimated to the Whitewater community that much faster. I can’t wait to move in at the end of December and am even more excited to start the pursuit of my new career in English education when school starts again in January.

5) Supporters of my new career path: Speaking of being excited to start school again in January, I am also excited to see so much support I have gotten as I switch career paths. I am not saying marketing isn’t right for me, I love marketing and it’s been a blast really having first hand experience in marketing my own book, but marketing is a very hard field to get into right now. I am not saying education will be any better for me come Fall 2015 when I look for jobs, but I think I will be able to find a job. All of the people who I’ve told about this career path have told me that I would be an awesome teacher and it makes me reaffirm my faith that this path in my life is definitely the one I want to go down.

6) Finally, I guess I’m thankful for my book: I know, it sounds weird. But, let me explain. I am thankful for my book and everything that it has taught me in my life in the past couple months. A big saying in the book is “The Toughest Trials Test You Truest” and nothing has been a tougher trial for me than to take this large financial risk and publish a book. I think what is even tougher though is knowing that this is only part 1 in a 4-5 book series and that I continue writing. And, when you couple in the fact that I haven’t had as much support as I intended with this first book from FB friends or college friends it is really hard for me to continue writing and even think about launching the second book in 2015 (which is my goal currently) considering I’ll still probably be in debt with this first book if sales do not go the way I intend them to in the near future. Another important lesson my book offers, though, is the fact that nothing is impossible, only you decide what is possible and what is impossible so when you are feeling low, which is what I feel sometimes, you just say to yourself “I’m Possible” and continue pushing through. That is what I’m doing and hopefully it all works out for me.

Anyways, that is everything I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. If you are one of these people, you know. I truly appreciate every ounce of support I get whether that be in my career change, my new path in life, or my book. Thanks to you all and have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

What can be Improved Upon in English College Courses (Part 2)

So, in the first part of this topic I discussed why teachers shouldn’t really be limiting the writing ability of creative writing students. Here is another topic that I feel needs to get addressed while we are critiquing the English college curriculum.

Alright, so it has been argued that many people go to college just to get the degree, but that it really doesn’t prepare you for the real world. I guess, in some ways that’s true, but I definitely think it gives you the opportunity to prepare for that real world through the offering of internships and through a good college curriculum. As far as us Creative Writers go, how does college prepare us? The question I always received when people knew I was a creative writing major is “What are you going to do with that?” And it’s true, what do many people do with a creative writing degree? Well, there is always publishing poetry, short stories, or maybe even that novel. However, therein lies the problem with the education, it revolves around publishing. I was very lucky in many regards that I started taking my writing seriously at a high school level. When people asked me the question above I would respond with, “Well, I’m going to get my novel published. I already have it written.” People were so impressed by that and many of my fraternity brothers said I was “10,000 steps ahead of other Creative Writing majors.” And, I probably was, but anyone can do that, they just need to put the time in to get that done. But, getting to my point, my experience in publishing has caused me to look upon the college curriculum with a new perspective.

I think that in the English Education system at the college level there should be an offered class that teaches the people in the major all the ins and outs publishing. There is so much to learn! I honestly did so much research in order to publish my book and I still feel like I’m running around with my head cut off. What this class would do is talk about every aspect of publishing: book specs, trim size, to-dos, Independent Book Publishing Association, Publisher’s Weekly. There is so much info that you could put into a class. In fact, you could probably have two classes, one a beginning class going through the basics of what all is publishing and your different types of publishing options: vanity presses, indie presses, POD, or traditional publishing. And then you could have another course, a more advanced one that has a project of actually getting a work published by the end of the class. You would utilize your previous course knowledge and then implement it with querying your stories out, building your press kits, etc. Or, you could have a “virtual” simulation or a project where you put together your business plan, a marketing plan, and a timeline of implementation just so that when you do decide to take that step and publish something later on in life you have a blue print, you have done it before, and you’ve been pretty much “taken by the hand” throughout the whole process.

With this kind of info at least at their fingertips I think it’d encourage many more students to really get out there and write! Writing isn’t about jamming out a novel in a day, it’s about persistence. It took 6 years for me to get my first novel to where I want it to be. Although these courses will not help the motivation factor, it will definitely help benefit them with just a deeper knowledge of the publishing industry. I feel as though this would benefit many many English students who don’t really know how to take that next step into utilizing that English major that they acquired. Or, even if they didn’t want to publish something, they can take this knowledge to try to get jobs at publishing companies and have a job that directly relates to their major (which is something hard to find for many students nowadays like I said before).

 

If any of you reading this are pursuing something in the English Major what do you think about including some elective publishing classes? What other ideas can you think of that would help other English majors feel more prepared after college? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts!

Ender’s Game: From Book to Movie

enders_game_2013_movie-wide

Alright, so I am disappointed to admit this but until the movie gained popularity, I had not read Ender’s Game even though it is considered to be a staple in the science-fiction genre. Needless to say, I bought the book on my Kindle and I read it before seeing the movie. I always find it fascinating when books get turned into movies and I think that is really any author’s dream (or nightmare if your book gets murdered as much as Christopher Paolini’s Eragon did). With that being said, this is my review of the book and movie as a conjoined identity.

Compared to the book, the movie falls short. Not even falls short. Falls into an ABYSS. It’s very sad to see such a great book that has a lot of potential to be a great movie, end up not being that great at all. I would have to say it’s the second word book-to-movie translation I have ever seen, behind Eragon (I’m convinced those people didn’t even read the book cause of how awful it was). Anyways, before you start criticizing me for badmouthing the movie, let me get a chance to explain the problematic elements the movie offered.

  1. I thought the movie was too short. I look at the time and it says that it was 114 minutes long, but it did not seem like that for me. I could have sworn it was only around an hour and a half and definitely could have been improved by being increased by at least another half an hour. If this length is correct than this movie suffers from misdirection in defining what is truly important in the storyline. Those are the next points that I will be addressing.
  2. Technically I guess the largest flaw of this movie is the fact that they did not describe the anscible or what it does. They make reference to it but do not make an effort to tell us what it does and simply assume that everyone watching the movie knows what it does. This I would consider the biggest flaw in the movie because it is the crux of the whole ending of the story! For those of you who haven’t read the book, the anscible is a device that allows people to communicate faster than the speed of light. This is the dues ex machina that allows Ender to control the entire star fleet at the end that are universes away. Also, when we find out that it was no simulation that Ender was facing, but the real enemy and the ansicble is the thing that made his directions seems to be in real time, it brings a certain sense of realism to the science-fiction element. With this element not being explained thoroughly we, as viewers, have no clue how this “simulation” ended up being real or how that can even happen without removing ourselves really really far out of the story (suspension of disbelief at its finest).
  3. The battles that made up a majority of the story, end up hardly making up any of this movie. Ender is shown doing one battle in the movie. Then all the sudden he is ready to take on a whole fleet of alien without any more training. That is too contrived. I understand you need to cut things to fit a book into movie form, however, a few more battles would have engaged the audience more and also would have shown Ender’s skills develop as a tactical genius. Plus, it would have created emotional unrest in us as we see all of his friends graduate (although we really know they just graduated to command school to where Ender meets them again). Because of this brevity we don’t get to see the strain it is putting on Ender and therefore cannot really connect with him as a character and so when he is having a hard time going to command school and needs to go home and his sister Valentine talks to him, we don’t really understand why he is so distraught.
  4. One last change that really made me upset is the fact that this “Giant’s Game” that is also a considerable part of the book, is skimmed over. The game is described in great detail but the “End of the World” part is not. What Ender struggles with is this, and he doesn’t struggle with it in the movie. In fact, he solves it the first time. And the “End of the World” that actually ends up being a whole different planet in the book, ends up being on the same planet where the Space Command School is set up. A site where they said they had traveled through all the tunnels and exterminated all of the “buggers” as they are called. Little do they know they missed one bugger and her offspring (which is going to repopulate the race that Ender just genocided). Okay, this may be believable if the fact that the place that they didn’t scope out fully is the one that is located as close to the Command School as possible. How does this one go without being looked at extensively??? Really??? Come on now producers, think that through!!!
  5. And finally just a few pet peeves that annoy me when it comes to translating anything from book to movie or tv show. Why do you need to change names if they are going to be the exact same characters? Granted this didn’t really happen a lot with Ender’s Game but there is a man named “Dab” who I am pretty sure isn’t in the entire book and just thrown in there as a filler character. But, for example, an issue where it becomes more prevalent is when Game of Thrones changed Theon’s sister from Asha to Yara (which I guess would have been too confusing with Bran’s wilding mentor Osha).

Now, as in any review or critique there needs to be some positive elements, right? Yes, that is right and Ender’s Game does have some moments of brilliance here.

  1. I thought the cast was appropriate minus Bonzo who I thought was going to be taller (especially since he’s older) than Ender. Also, I pictured him to be bigger. Was not expecting such a scrawny kid.
  2. I thought the fact that they did not choose to include the internet domination of Ender’s brother and sister is a good thing. I don’t think this really carried the book story any further and it definitely would have caused a drag in the movie if it were allowed to sneak in. That was an excellent choice by the producers.
  3. The graphics and animations were really well done. The buggers were shown very well and I though the “Giant’s Game” that Ender plays in the book was translated very well to the movie screen minus the fact that they didn’t go into enough detail with it.

All in all I would give this book to movie translation a 3/10. The graphics and cast are what got in the three. But not defining the anscible clearly and demonstrating a clear lack in Ender’s training which is probably 75% of the actual book just shows a clear negligence on the part of the producers. I would still have to say that my all-time favorite book to movie translations would have to be the Harry Potter series. The producers and directors did a fantastic job at those, and if my book, The Trials of the Core, ever gets chosen to become a movie someday, those are the people I would want to have it done.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you read the book? Have you seen the movie? Both? How would you compare the two?

Goodreads Giveaway!!!

Hey Everyone! So, I’ve decided to do a giveaway for my book to celebrate its near release on December 10th of this year. Enter today, and even tell your friends about it and when my book is actually released on December 10th, I’ll pick 10 lucky winners who get my book FOR FREE!!! Enter now and pass along the word.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Trials of the Core by Michael E. Thies

The Trials of the Core

by Michael E. Thies

Giveaway ends December 10, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

What can be Improved Upon in English College Courses (Part 1)

So, there are a few things that have been bugging me for a while now. This blog post actually gets a little long so I’m expanding it into multiple parts. Part one talks about writing courses in college, although all of this can probably be applied to high school writing courses as well.  Part 2 will focus on courses I think that should be added to the college curriculum. And, who knows, maybe I’ll expand this into a part 3, as well, topic yet to be determined.

Firstly, why is there such a tendency to curb the way we college students write? I understand that different people have different taste in genres, but I believe each genre should be an acceptable format to write in during a college writing course. We come there to enhance our skills after all, not to write something that has no interest to us. I’ll use my college experience as an example here (and I know many colleges are focused around the same way), in my junior level creative writing prose course we were meant to have a portfolio at the end of the semester with 3 short stories in it. I had an awesome teacher who allowed us to write whatever we wanted. . . Initially, anyways. I decided I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and I’ll write a short story that coincides with my larger piece that I’m working on, my novel. I loved it. I had an awesome time writing it and I feel as though much of the class enjoyed it (that last part could be due to the fact that I consider myself a decent writer). Anyways, 2/3 pieces I wrote for that portfolio turned out to be short stories that supplemented my novel, The Trials of the Core, which is a fantasy piece.

In my senior level creative writing prose course my teacher strictly forbade anyone from writing fantasy short stories and decided to stick with literary prose. Okay. I don’t mind literary prose, I can write about anything, that’s what practice will get you, but if I had a choice what would I choose? Probably my fantasy stories and again work on things that are going to compliment me later in life. Now, the problem here?

The problem is that my senior level creative writing teacher forbade us to write on anything other than her specific interest even when we had two pieces we needed to turn in at the end of the year. My junior-level teacher did not. To me a solution could be that, yes, you can write a story genre specific to your choice, but then you must also write another story that is not in your typical genre. This forces us as writers and readers to do a couple things: (1) As writers, we find our voice in different genres. We are exposed to a wider range of writing, and as such, become better versed in all aspects writing. (2) As readers, we learn to look at different types of literature and judge it in the genre that it’s in. We see the shortcomings of a specific genre, and the strengths of another. We learn to analyze differently and perhaps even take what’s specific in one genre and merge it with another (for example, merging an idea of fantasy into magical realism). (3) As teachers, you should be able to discern good writing from bad writing no matter the genre. Even if it’s something you don’t typically read, you know a good sentence when you see it—it is not as abstract as poetry is in my opinion.

I am pro-fantasy writer, a definite advocate, and so I hate it when teachers tell me I can’t write a specific way and there are typically a few reasons: (1) Fantasy is about world building and you don’t have enough time to properly world build in a short story, (2) You need to deal with magic and supernatural elements, that again, take a long time to explain and not suited for a short story, (3) there may be creatures in it that we cannot suspend our disbelief to.

Great…

Here are some reasons why we should be allowed to write fantasy (but you can apply these reasons to other genres as well): (1) The ability to create a delicate plot structure. Just think about it, imagine how much planning and timing it takes for fantasy authors to juggle multiple plot lines in a single story. J.K. Rowling had 7 books in her series, Harry Potter, and although I doubt she had all 7 outlined when she wrote her first book, she had a good idea of where she wanted the story to go. As fantasy writers we need to think about things that happen in the first book that will affect the second book, third book, and so on. That is hard! And a reason why if we can practice that in short story format, utilizing the setup-payoff technique, we are going to be well off when we actually start our career after college. (2) World building. I don’t think there is another genre (perhaps besides science-fiction) that worldbuilds like fantasy does. This is a trait that can carry over to ANY GENRE. We as writers are writers, first and foremost, but I’d scoff at anyone who says that as a writer they are not an observer—a people watcher, a world watcher. If you can dream up or think up these fantastic settings that are, for the most part, imaginary just think about how well you will be able to do describing something that takes place in Smoky Mountains, Tennessee. The language we use is the same, the reality is that in most other fiction, it literally is reality that is the difference. It’s there. Tangible. (3) To further recognize how to deal with not only cliché characters, but hackneyed scenarios. This is huge in genre fiction. In romance you have the love triangle and the most known one is the High School quarterback dating the head cheerleader and then this other undiscovered girl comes in and attracts the quarterback and they fall in love. For fantasy it’s the idea that an orphan will be the one to save everyone. And so on and so forth for the other genres. But, writing these short stories in these different types of genres allow us to practice creating different archetypes of characters, because we don’t want the predictable love triangle. By listening to others’ feedback who aren’t maybe versed in the genre as much as we are, we get an outsiders perspective which might just be the thing we are looking for when it comes to changing up our pacing, style, tone or perspective.

Well, that actually happened to be a lengthier blog post than I intended it to be, but it needed to be said nonetheless. So, there you have it teachers and professors, don’t limit your student’s creativity just because you don’t like a particular genre. Instead, embrace it. Allow them to write perhaps one of there 3 portfolio pieces in a genre of their choosing but then encourage them to go outside their norms and write in something else. This will only create better writers, better readers, and better analyzers. We as students are thirsty for variety, thirsty for knowledge, and that sort of thing is taken away when our writing habits are dictated. I think Plato says it best when he says, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Know one thing, you know nothing, know many things, and you are on the write path.

Book Launch Party!!!

Here are the photos from my Book Launch. It was an awesome event and my proudest moment! I had a group of 50 people there or so and there were events planned throughout the entire night so there was never a dull moment.

Feel free to look around at the gallery! I can’t wait to support my other fellow author friends at their book launches. I am finally happy to have my book out there. The book comes out December 10th of this year, but if you can’t wait and want to get a preordered copy, visit www.guardianofthecore.com.

Before You Start Reading

Hey everyone!!!

So, yesterday was the big day, I had my Book Launch party. Boy, was I nervous. I shouldn’t have been though, it was an awesome turnout. I will get more into detail about that in a different blog post though. There is so much happening in my life right now that I will be blogging a lot more regularly and so this is the beginning of a 2-3/week blogging spree. So, get prepared.

Anyways, even though the book doesn’t officially get released until December 10th of 2013, I had my Book Launch party in November where people could buy the book and/or free a free book through a series of events (again, a different blog post, be looking for it though). But, I figured before anyone starts reading the book, I wanted to share this with everyone again (I say again because it is on my Facebook Page for my novel “search: Guardian of the Core”). This is my confessional where I explain what spurred me to write the novel I’m writing now, and why I think it’s important to write and what I hope readers will gain via reading it. Take a look at the link below! Also, while you’re there, you can subscribe to my newly created youtube channel titled after my publishing company, “Writer’s Block Press”.

Author Confessional

Thanks everyone for the support and the continued support. I appreciate it. If you end up purchasing the book great, if it speaks to you and you can really resonate with it than that means I’m doing my job as an author which is my greatest delight, not that you bought it. At the end of the day I want you to be able to relate to some aspect of it, regardless of the fact that it is a fantasy novel.