Monday, December 29, 2014

Writer New Year Resolutions

It's that time of year again when people make resolutions to change some part of their life for the better.

Here are some "writer resolutions" I suggest (and some I need to make).

1) Make time to write: Yes, we all have busy lives and many of us have day jobs. If you write "when I find the time" you'll never write. Make time to write. Get up an hour earlier. Forgo an hour of television a day. But do what it takes to make time to write. You want to be a writer, then you need to write!

2) Just keep Writing: Yes, I say this a lot but because I think it needs repeating. We all go through the "this-is-crap" crisis (me, usually about 50,000 words in). But I also say "Your first draft is going to suck, get over it write the damn thing." Just keep writing and fix it in edits.

3) Edit (more): A writer almost can't do too much editing. As I said before, you're first draft is going to be crap. Editing is how you polish crap into a diamond. I try to wait a month and hope I have another work in progress going before I start to edit. The longer you wait the more likely you will see not only glaring errors and bad writing, but subtle errors and sub-par writing that could be improved. I edit twice myself (with at least one week between), then I have it proofread. Then I have my wife read it to me. Then I send it to beta readers. Then I edit it again. Then I submit it.

4) Be more Social: Yes, we are all introverts who would rather spend time with our characters (or someone else's characters) than face people live and in person. But every success I've had as a writer came through networking (i.e., talking to people). Join a writers' group. At the very least see if you can connect with writers through social media. You're going to need beta readers, for one thing. Other writers can help you when you're stuck with a plot problem or encourage you to finish that NaNoWriMo novel.

5) Write Well: In everything you write: Facebook posts, Tweets, emails, letters to Santa, do your best to write it well and with few mistakes. I'm amazed when I see writers on social media use "to" instead of "too." Always always always practice your craft, no mater what you are writing.

That should get you started on the upcoming new year. Well, that and losing weight and cutting out junk food.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Nancy MC Young and Clyde P Riddlesbrood

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Nancy MC Young and Clyde P Riddlesbrood

Nancy MC Young

Nancy MC Young
Nancy's writing brings to life her global travel and multicultural perspective. Born in Taipei and
raised in Pasadena, California. She has traveled extensively across the U.S. and Canada, and has visited over 30 countries. She worked for many years as a nonprofit arts manager and foundation officer in Los Angeles and San Francisco before becoming an arts and cultural development consultant for regional, state and federal governments in the USA and in Australia for over 16 years.

Nancy authored numerous cultural development plans and policies, arts marketing books, and published a short story in the anthology, Sweet Sisters and Other Secrets (Zonta Int'l) in 2000. She now lives in Southern California and supports literacy and education through her work with the Long Beach Public Library Foundation. This is her first novel.

Nancy's Book:

Strum available at Amazon and InkWater Books.

Nancy's links:

Facebook (book)
Facebook (author)

Clyde P Riddlesbrood

Clyde's work in progress is: The longest Brochure in the World

Clyde's links:


From Today's Show: Quantum Teleportation

Monday, December 22, 2014

Once More Into the Breech (or Breach?).

Some words are just confusing as all get out. Like "breech" and "breach." Both are pronounced the same, spelled nearly the same, but have completely different meanings. When I wrote my NaNoWriMo novel, I used the wrong one every time. (Of course, it was a first draft in need of revision.)

So here's the low down on "breech" and "breach":

Breech means the back of something. The breech of a gun. Most modern firearms are "breech loaded" (as opposed to muzzle loaded). A baby coming out bottom-first is a "breech baby." You wear "breeches" because they cover your ass.

Breach means a break or fissure. You breach your contract. The torpedo breached the hull of the battleship. To kiss the queen was a breach in protocol. And whales jumping into the air are "breaching" (perhaps because they breach the surface of the ocean?).

Oh, and the Shakespeare quote from Henry V: "Once more into the breach."

How to remember which is which. This is easy. "Breach" has the same five first letters a "break" which is one of its meaning. And "breech" has two e's so you'd say "eeee" if you saw someone's breech.

So don't breach good spelling rules and come out looking like a breech.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice

Today as I write this, it is the day of the Winter Solstice. The word solstice basically means "sun stopping" or "sun standing." It is like the word armistice has the same Latin root and means "arms standing."

A solstice is not a day. It is the time that the Sun reaches it's most northern (summer) or southern (winter) point. The Sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere during the Winter Solstice.

Today that will be at 3:03 P.M. Pacific Standard Time. So you can adjust to your time zone. For example, that's 6:03 P.M. Eastern Standard Time.

If you are north of the Arctic Circle, there will be at least one day around the Winter Solstice when the sun does not rise over the horizon. The farther north you are, the more days that is and at the North Pole, it's six months. Conversely, in the summer, there will be at least one day when the sun does not set and the farther north you are the more days there will be. Again, at the North Pole, that's six months of daylight.

When I was growing up in Southeast Idaho at an elevation of nearly 4,500 feet, winter (as signified by the first snow) started late October. It struck me as strange that the first official day of winter was essentially in the middle of winter. And spring, which starts about March 22nd officially, was still, in winter ("winter" ran from late October to early April).

People mistakenly called the day of the Winter Solstice "the shortest day of the year" when what they mean is it's the shortest daylight of the year. Where I live, sunrise was at 7:41 this morning and sunset will be at 4:09 this evening. That's 8 hours and 28 minutes of the sun being up (if my math is correct). And miracle of miracles, it's actually a sunny day here.

So why is Christmas on December 25th? One theory holds that most cultures have a post Winter Solstice party. They've been watching the Sun get lower and lower in the sky, the day light get shorter, the temperatures get cooler. Somebody's gotta be thinking "If this goes on, we're doomed."

Then it stops, the periods of daylight start getting longer again. So hey, let's have a big party! And since Christmas was scheduled by early Christians to coincide with Saturnalia, which was probably started as one of those parties, that's why Christmas is three days (about) after the Winter Solstice.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Anthony Metivier and Laura Enright

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Anthony Metivier and Laura Enright

Anthony Metivier
Anthony Metivier

Anthony Metivier is the author of Lucas Parks and the Download of Doom, How to Remember Your Dreams and founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a 21st century approach to the Memory Palace Method that makes memorizing foreign language vocabulary, poetry, and the names of the important people you meet easy and elegant.

Anthony's books include:

Lucas Parks and the Download of Doom

Sample of audio book of upcoming novel Electville

Anthony's Links:


Laura Enright
Laura Enright

I was raised in Harwood Heights, Ill., a suburb bordering Chicago, growing up across the parking lot from the neighborhood tavern that my grandfather built in the 1930s. In 2005 my book Chicago’s Most Wanted: The Top Ten Book of Murderous Mobsters, Midway Monsters and Windy City Oddities was published followed in 2010 by Vampires’ Most Wanted: The Top Ten Book of Bloodthirsty Biters, Stake-wielding Slayers and Other Undead Oddities.

February 2014 saw the release of To Touch the Sun, the first novel in my vampire series set in Chicago. A visit to my author page on Facebook will reveal that I’m all over the map when it comes to what I like in literature, music, TV and movies, but I do tend to veer toward some more than others. In short, I'm interested in any number of things, far too many for my limited free time to accommodate.

As a writer I tend to stay in the fantasy and science fiction genres (adding liberal doses of humor when needed) but I’m willing to try my hand at anything, which, curiously enough, led to my three books I’ve published. A quote that pretty much sums up my life is from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” (though I heard it in a George Harrison song): “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

Laura's book:

To Touch the Sun

Laura's Links:


From today's program: Japanese Asteroid Mission

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bring and Take: Use them Correctly

Nearly everyone I know, including my wife, uses "bring" incorrectly, using it when she should use "take. For example, she will ask one of my sons to "Bring the dishes into the kitchen" when they are both in the dining room. This drives me bonkers.

I have thought for years how to explain the difference to her (and everyone else) and finally realized that it has to do with "come" and "go." And that made it simple (not that it changed my wife's error).

If you can add "go" to the sentence, use "take." As in "Go into the kitchen and take the dishes."

If you can add "come" to the sentence, use "bring." That would be "Come into the kitchen and bring the dishes."

Because you wouldn't say "go into the kitchen" when you are standing in the kitchen, you would say "come" And you wouldn't say "come into the kitchen" when you are in the dining room, you would say "go."

There are some special cases with bring and take which probably cause all the confusion. But, still, the "come and go rule" works. One might say "Come into the kitchen with me and bring the dishes." This is correct even if you are in the dining room.

Or, you might say "I'll bring the dishes when I come into the kitchen" again while in the dining room. But in both cases, you are saying "come" so "bring" is the correct verb.

Remember, if you can put the word "go" in the sentence, use "take." If you can put the word "come" in the sentence, put the word "bring."

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Tina Field Howe and Logan I. Masterson

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Tina Field Howe and Logan l. Masterson

Tina Field Howe

Tina Field Howe
Tina’s first book was Snailsworth, a slow little story, a children’s picture book which she wrote and illustrated in 2004. “Snailsworth” book and audio book won Silver in the 2013 Readers’ Favorite Awards. 

Tina’s first novel, “Alysa of the Fields, Book One in the Tellings of Xunar-kun” (SHOO-nahr-KOON), won the 2006 Dream Realm Awards for Cover Art. The second book in the series – “The TrailFolk of Xunar-kun” – won First Place in the 2009 Written Art Awards, Science Fiction category; and Silver in the 2011 Readers' Favorite Awards. 

Tina received a 2009 Artist Crossroads Grant from The ARTs Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and NYSCA to create an audio book of “Alysa of the Fields.” She cast 42 actors in the character roles and lent her own voice to the narration. She produced the 8-CD audio book in her home studio. It was released in 2010 and has won three awards: Gold in Readers' Favorite, Silver in Mom's Choice and First Place in Reader Views. 

Tina dabbled in screenwriting on and off for several years then discovered Screenwriting U’s online screenwriting intensive which she completed in 2011. Since then she has been focused on screenwriting and has won and placed in several competitions. She is currently taking Screenwriting U’s Master class and recently gained representation. 

In addition to writing books and screenplays, for many years Tina has been an illustrator and her day job is in corporate communications.  

Tina holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and a Minor in Art. Her favorite college studies included physical and cultural anthropology, archaeology, studio art and art history.

Tina lives in Waverly, New York. She “gives back” by speaking at career seminars at public schools, meeting with creative writing classes, and speaking to individual aspiring writers.

Tina's books:

Alysa of the Fields (paperback/hardback/PDF and Kindle)
And free on Smashwords for a limited time!

The TrailFolk of Xunar-kun (paperback/hardback/PDF and Kindle)
And free on Smashwords for a limited time!

Tina's Links:


Logan l. Masterson

Logan I. Masterson
Born in southern Missouri, and traveling the American southwest throughout his early life, Logan L. Masterson rooted himself in ideas rather than places. His world is a place of wonders, where words are magic and anything is possible. It’s also a place of darkness: good things happen to bad people and the best intentions can go terribly awry.

Logan L. Masterson is the author of Ravencroft Springs, a Lovecraftian tale of Appalachia published by Pro Se Press. Look for his stories “Clockwork Demons” in Capes & Clockwork, and “Shadow of the Wolf” in Luna’s Children II, both from Dark Oak Press. His newest project is Wheel of the Year: Samhain, the first in a pagan high-fantasy series of short stories. 

Logan's Links:

From today's program: Rosetta water discovery.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Twenty-four Hours with Only a Phone

My wife and I tried an experiment. I came up with the idea that maybe if we used our smart phones just as phones for 24 hours, we might experience more life. We might spend less time staring at screens and more time seeing what's around us. We might even . . . talk to each other.

It didn't work that way. From 10:00 P.M. on a Thursday to 10:00 P.M. on a Friday, we turned off data and WiFi on our iPhones. This cut us off from the internet: no Facebook, no Twitter, no Words with Friends (seemingly my wife's current obsession).

What did we learn. I learned it was annoying and inconvenient. If I wanted to check the weather, I had to get on a computer. If I wanted to check Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media, I had to get on my computer. And this was less of a burden for my wife than for me. Her computer is kept on the main floor of the house, mine is in the basement meaning I had to go down a flight of stairs anytime I wanted to use a computer. I pretty much just didn't bother.

In lieu of doing something on my phone, I read, watched TV, or did work. There was no magical improvement of my life. As I said, it was mostly annoying and inconvenient.

I think the reason my experiment didn't have the results I wanted was simply that technology makes our lives better. I can check the weather at a glance. I can update Twitter, Facebook, etc. without having to sit down in front of a computer. I can search the web from my recliner. Cutting myself off from technology did not return my life to a pastoral blissful existence. It was simply a bother.

Maybe the next step is to cut off internet completely.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas/Holiday Book-Buyer's Guide

It's Christmas time again (or fill in your favorite holiday).

And if you're wondering what to give that special someone who loves to curl up with a good book, here are some suggestions:

Kundalis: Storm Dragon by Frances Pauli

Karin knows she’s gone completely insane—nuts—absolutely batshit crazy, when she spots an insidious blue dragon twining through the trees at a rest stop in the Cascade Mountains. Despite agreeing to join her roommate at a psychic fair, she’s never believed in anything metaphysical. She’s pretty sure the Reiki treatment she succumbed to has brought on a frighteningly realistic hallucination—until they roll their mini-van in the middle of I-90, and she is rescued from the vehicle by the same monstrous blue figment of her imagination.

She awakens to find that she’s been delivered to a cabin high in the mountains instead of to a proper hospital. The “doctor” looking out for her is more of a new-ager than a physician, and the people who own the house, including the urban highlander version of Fabio, don’t have any intention of letting her leave.

Faced with the unimaginable, and strapped to an all-too-real dragon, Karin must decide how to tame the beast or risk losing herself to it forever.

Amazon reviews: "An exceedingly well-written contemporary fantasy that will suit all fans who want something on the little bit different side." "...a fun twist on the idea of dragons."

Nexus Point by Jaleta Clegg

Stranded on a primitive world, chased by drug smugglers who think she’s competition, hunted by the Patrol as a criminal, pursued by the natives who think she’s a demon, Dace has one hope of rescue—convince the Patrol agent trying to kill her that she’s innocent. But on Dadilan, no one is innocent.

Amazon review: "Well written, with an unpredictable plot and well-rounded characters. “

Emergence by Siana Wineland

It’s been twenty-five years since people started to change in the Pacific Northwest… Since the emergence of the first Valkyries. Most find it easier to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. That the contagion isn’t something that can touch them. Unfortunately the next to transform, and sprout wings, could be anyone.

Most of all, Jessica Reuther wants nothing more to do with Valkyries. But when a recovery team comes for her, she becomes the contested bone among the wolves. And a vicious game of tug-o-war ensues while she is forced to face a reality she prayed would never come. In the wake of her metamorphosis, a new kind of change begins to sweep through the fledgling race, one that could have devastating consequences for humanity.

Amazon reviews: "I really enjoyed this book. The characters were engaging and the plot moved quickly." "Awesome book, couldn't put it down!  If I didn't know before hand would never have guessed it was a new author."

Mythica by Voss Foster

Ghosts of the past and fairies of the future. Mythical creatures and magic gone awry. 
From the crash of the Hindenburg to magic-crazed visions of tomorrow, wonder runs just under the surface. Six fantasy shorts from author Voss Foster explore just how deep that magic runs. And how easily it can be exposed.

Unbound: Kayla Blackstone Book One by Adriane Ceallaigh

Kayla Blackstone wasn't always a slave. At one time she’d been the best bounty hunter the drifts had ever seen... before the Mage Hunters came. Before they’d stolen her life, her family, and her purpose. Before Keaton had offered her a deal she couldn't refuse.

Now she has a chance to get her life back, to start over. Her Master, Keaton, wants one more run, one more delivery. She knows better than to trust him, but she doesn't have a choice. Unfortunately, for Kayla, Keaton’s deals are as deadly as they ever were.

Amazon Review: This was different then any book i have read before. I am an avid reader , so it is hard to find books that stand out and i am pleased that this one had such a great new story line. Can't wait for the next book.

Gods of Strife by S. Evan Townsend

They live among us.  We know they are there.  No government can control them; no authority can stop them.  Some are evil.  Some are good.  All are powerful.  They inhabit our myths and fairy tales.  But what if they were real, the witches, wizards, and fairy godmothers?  What if they were called "adepts" and an ancient evil stalks them?

An assassination attempt on the head of the American Meta Association guild sends adept Peter Branton looking for who wants him and his leader dead.  Finding the beautiful, shape-shifting assassin leads him to his real enemy, an enemy that is much worse and much more dangerous: living gods of Atlantis.  Branton must team with up with his would-be killer and a mysterious warrior to defeat the gods of strife that are intent on starting a war that could devastate all mankind.

Amazon Review:  "...the story really came to life, you almost felt as if you were a part of the action."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sports, an Odyssey

I was just thinking how excited I am for the University of Washington Huskies upcoming bowl game. And I realized I've made quite a changed in my life when it comes to sports.

When I was a kid and up through most of my formative years, I hated sports with a passion. I hated playing them and I really hated watching them. I hated sports on TV as I'd turn on the television to watch some favorite show but a stupid football game would have two minutes left but it would take fifteen minutes of real time to finish the game and then an announcer would come on and say "We join the program already in progress." And you've missed the first fifteen minutes of your show.  Didn't help we only had two channels. Not much to watch anyway.

A change started in my twenties. When I married, I found my wife was much more interesting in watching sports than I was. She would watch the Seattle Seahawks and the University of Washington Huskies (I put my foot down at baseball, a sport I still loath).

And I, after attending the University of Washington, started watching Husky football. But what really sealed the deal what that I went to a few games. There's nothing like the fever pitch of being in a crowd of 50,000 or so people all yelling for the same outcome.  (This is also used in the political sphere where people can get very worked up about something political at a rally of a couple of thousand like-minded people and a charismatic speaker.)

Now I'm a near-rabid Huskies fan (even when they went 0-12 on a season) and a fair-weather Seahawks fan (I'll watch if they are winning).

But I still won't watch baseball.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I and Me, which is correct?

Pretty much everyone knows when you are talking about yourself and you are the subject of the sentence, you say "I" as in "I went to town."

"Me went to town" is something a 3-year-old would say.

Although lots of people who should know better say "Me and Joe went to town" when, of course, it should be "Joe and I . . ."  ("Me and Joe" always sounds like "Mean Joe" so I respond with "How mean is Joe?")

And, "Joe and me" is also wrong because you use "I" when you are the subject and "me" when you are the object. And the other person always comes first (I know, not fair).

But what about the end of sentences? When do you use "I" and when do you use "me"? This confuses a lot of people.

Well, it depends. If you are the object of the sentence, use "me": "Joe gave the ball to me."

However, if you are comparing yourself to something, use I: "Joe is taller than I."

Some people get this mixed up, thinking "I" is correct in all circumstances and say "Joe gave the ball to I" which makes me want to pull out what's left of my hair.

To figure out if you should use "I," add "am" (i.e., a verb).  "Joe is taller than I am" is correct. And you can just drop the "am." I hope you wouldn't say "Joe is taller than me am."

But you wouldn't say "Joe gave the ball to I am." So you use "me" in that case.

The easy rule is, if you can add "am" (or "was") and the sentence still makes sense, use "I". If you can't add "am," use "me."

And, on a related note, you don't say "Joe is taller than him" because "Joe is taller than him is" is wrong. You say "Joe is taller than he."

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Write Fight Champion

As part of our local NaNoWriMo local region's TGIO (Thank God it's Over) party, we had a "write fight." And I won (see trophy at left).

How this worked was the referee gave two writers three random writing prompts. They then had four minutes to write something (not long enough for a story). The referee read the stories without saying who wrote them, and then the group voted on the best.

We started with eight participants in the single-elimination tournament. Which meant I had to compete three times. And this was done with pen and paper so I had the added challenge of trying to write neatly (see writing sample below).

Here are the three vignettes I wrote (unedited except for spelling):

First Round: prompts: cartoon character, lottery, orchestra

"Why do we have to be here?" Goofy gushed.
"You won the lottery. You're rich now. This is what rich people do."
"But I don't like orchestra music."
"You're rich now. It doesn't matter what you like."
"I had more fun when I was a poor goober farmer."
"Shut up, the music is about to start."
"Who are you anyway," Goofy asked.
"I'm the lottery enforcer. I make sure you do your part to earn your $10 million."
"Garsh!" Goofy exclaimed.
"Hey, you turned in the ticket. Didn't you read the contract?"
"I don't want to be rich."
"Too late, pal."

Second Round: prompts: a toupee, a sleuth, an evil roommate.
Me trying to write neatly

Detective Larkin studied the toupee. It was resting on the carpet, looking forlorn and unwanted. But it was the blood that most interested Larkin.
"I didn't do it, man," the roommate whined. "Not that he didn't deserve it, wearing that stupid toupee and sticking his fingers in his ears watching anime."
"So you deny killing your roommate?" Larkin asked.
"Yes!" the pudgy man cried. "I don't even own a stiletto."
"I never said he was stabbed with a stiletto." Larkin smirked.
The roommate shrieked and ran for the door.
Larkin pulled his gun and yelled, "Stop!"

Winning Round: prompts: a lemon, an alien, a Venus fly trap.

The ship landed among the rows and rows of trees. Out came what any human would call a Venus fly trap but it was instead from Mars and ate mosquitoes.
From the trees hung bulbous, yellow fruit The alien took one, went back into his glittering ship, and with a muted yelp it shot into the azure sky.
The alien walked to his commanders quarters and present the fruit.
"Fool!" the commander bellowed. "That's a lemon. My doctor's orders were explicit: put the lime in the coconut and call him in the morning."
"Forgive me, sir," the alien trembled.

I have to say this was fun and challenging and I came out on top of some very good writers. It's very difficult to write something coherent in four minutes. I hope we do this again next year.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Sara Deutsch and Sarantos

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Sara Deutsch and Sarantos.

Sara Deutsch

Sara Deutsch
Sara Deutsch, M.S., is an author, multi-media artist, Creative Arts Therapist, and teacher who focuses on creativity as a healing force and the art of collaboration.  Her journey led her  into many worlds. She trekked alone in the  Himalayas, and lived in virgin jungles of Hawaiian Islands, eating only fruit and wild vegetables. Sara draws from doctoral study in Psychobiology and East/West Psychology, years in a contemplative  order, 28 years of private practice, college teaching, and multimedia explorations.

Sara's books include:

VIOLET MOON--Fairy Tales with Art to Heal the Heart

EXTENDED FAMILY--Original Fairy Tales with Art and Heart 

CREATIVE COLLABORATION: Magic Ways to Create Cartoons and Stories Together

Sara's Links:



Sarantos is finally releasing his long-awaited and eagerly anticipated 1st solo artist music album on November 18th 2014. Sarantos' music has received rave reviews so far and he relishes this chance to pursue his life long dream.

Sarantos unique sound has been best described by industry insiders as "an emotionally powerful vocal style masterfully united with music that is a fusion of classic 80s rock blended with modern soft rock and pop music!"

Sarantos currently has over 1.4M Social Media followers and is rated #6 on Reverbnation in the pop genre worldwide.  Sarantos performed at the Toronto Music Festival on May 6th with his new band to a sold out live audience.

Sarantos was also recently nominated for 2 awards for the upcoming International Music & Entertainments Awards on October 4th 2014. The categories are Rock Song of the Year and Pop Album of the Year.

With recorded hits and new tunes waiting to be released every single month until the day he dies, Sarantos music screams success and stimulates an overdue conversation in the changing music industry. Sarantos loyal music fans continue to show their support by proudly showing off Sarantos merchandise and staying tuned into Sarantos daily down-to-earth and very real social media revelations. His songs are being broadcast every day on various radios stations around the world. Sarantos continues to do interviews around the world every single week and fans can listen in to some of them on his YouTube page. Let’s not forget his funny, sarcastic, witty and genuine music videos that leave his fans not knowing what to expect next.

There will be plenty of continued buzz throughout the year.  A new song will be released on the 1st Tuesday of every month, a new music video on the 2nd Tuesday of every month, a new Funny video of the month on the 3rd Tuesday of every month and a new Whiteboard video on the 4th Tuesday of every month! And now, Sarantos has just revealed that he is also going to start releasing a new Chapter form his fiction/fantasy book each month with the book also coming out at the end of the year.

Sarantos has been writing lyrics since 4th grade and is passionate about the words he puts to the music. Music was always in his blood. Music was always a passion and much more than a hobby. Sarantos has written over 2,000 songs!

Having undergone several personal challenges with Sarantos' father passing away two years ago after a long hard-fought battle with lung cancer, dealing with personal health issues like asthma and allergies which affected his singing style, going thru life's ups & downs, the timing is finally right. Sarantos main motivation, however, is to raise money for charity. 

33% of any music related sales are going straight to charity!

Sarantos has always been inclined to help people in need and is proud to launch this CD as a way to donate a portion of proceeds to charity, hopefully inspiring other artists to do the same. The 11 charities chosen for each song include American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, Make-a-Wish Foundation, American Heart Association, St Jude's, Hellenic Academy, ASERF, American Red Cross, Children's Hospital of Chicago, Chicago Medical School, Thanioton Society & the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The website, Melogia (which in Greek means "with words") was established by Sarantos, an aspiring singer and song writer.

Sarantos Mission or Goal:

My goal when you listen to one of my songs is very simple. I want you to feel the need to:

-Dance or move to the groove 
-Play the song over and over again

Sarantos' book: Not Where I Want to Be (available on his website)

Sarantos' Links:

From today's show: The Orion Launch

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Movie Review: The Giver

Probably due to the popularity of The Hunger Games, there have been a spate of books and consequent movies portraying a dystopian future  where a plucky teenaged hero saves the day. The Giver is no exception, and like The Hunger Games and Divergent, it gives us a society ruled by despotic leaders. But in The Giver, the despotism is more subtle.

In "The Community" there is no crime, war, suffering, at least on the surface. But that comes at a price. The government chooses your profession, your mate, and your children. Even your clothes. "Love" is a banned word. Freedom of expression is forbidden. And anyone who is inconvenient to the Community is "released": a euphemism for killing them. This includes babies who do not meet certain standards and anyone who reaches age 65. And life is bland for everyone. In fact, much of the movie is shot in grey scale to emphasize this.

Finally, only one person in the Community is allowed to know history before the Community, called the Keeper. And now it's time to train a new Keeper, and that's Jonas, the aforementioned plucky teenaged hero who, upon learning what he is missing (color, music, dancing, joy, snow) in the Community, tries to spread it his friends. This is forbidden.

The Giver is a little slow and a bit unrealistic at time. But it has powerful moments such as the "release" of a baby. It shows the subtle tyranny of trying making everyone safe from reality, something that is happening now in many places. The philosophy that the all-knowing state will take care of you and protect you, the only price is your freedom is too prevalent in society today. The Giver shows us the logical conclusion of that existence: black and white, bland, where nothing or no one is different.

I enjoyed this movie and recommend it as a study on the tyranny of the nanny state, a happy-faced kind of tyranny versus the hobnailed boot kind of the Hunger Games.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why I Love/Hate NaNoWriMo

November is over.

That means NaNoWriMo is over and if you haven't written your 50,000 words (at least) you haven't won.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual self-flagellation that some writers put themselves through, including me the past two years. And this year I won. I managed to write 63,388 words on a novel called (now) Treasure of the Pirate Planet. I did it in 25 days for an average daily word count of 2,536. My biggest day was the second to the last when I did 3,666 words.

I do NaNoWriMo for two reasons. One is the same reason soldiers will stay in a foxhole as artillery shells are landing around them. I don't want to let down my buddies. My local writers' group is very much into NaNoWriMo and they want to have a good word-count at the end for the region. So I participate in order to help raise that word-count.

The other reason is that it focuses the mind so that, yes, you do often put out a manuscript (first draft) in less than 30 days, or at least make good progress toward it (50,000 words is a very short book). It fits with my mantas "Just Keep Writing" and "Your first draft will suck, get over it and write the damn thing."

But the problem I have with NaNoWriMo is that a lot of begining writers don't realize that what you are writing in November is a first daft.  It needs to be edited, proofread, edited some more, revised, beta read, revised, edited, and then maybe then it's ready to be published or submitted.

For example, I didn't think my NaNoWriMo novel from last year, Treasure of the Black Hole, was ready to be submitted to a publisher until June of this year. And I probably won't submit this years novel (a sequel to last year's) until May or June (depending on how fast people get betas back to me).

But I think too many beginning writers think, "Oh, I've written a book, let's put on on Kindle in time for Christmas." And that really annoys me because it gives indie authors a bad name when people publish bad first drafts.

I do like that this year, NaNoWriMo has a "badge" you can earn by promising to revise your novel. I'm hoping that will give more participants the clue that they do have to revise their novels. Sure, you can whip out that first draft in a month. But now you have months of work to do to finish it.