I normally don't do book reviews on my blog because... well... hello, I'm an author here and it seems like kind of a conflict of interest.
Saying that, we all know I'm about to break that pesky rule because I just had to. Why? Well, I'm bubbling with the need to 1) break a rule, and 2) talk about this book.
The book is "Man in the Empty Suit" by Sean Ferrell.
Usually I get completely aggravated with time travel stories (and movies) because they never address the conflicts in the act of travelling through time. It's one of the reasons I've never attempted to write a time travel book either. If the professionals can't figure it out, how the hell am I ever going to?
Ferrell, however, took the conundrum of time travel, embraced it with a big "F you", and went with the chaos time travel wreaks in the mind of those who think about it.
I loved how the character's regard for the rules he'd set slowly disintegrated as the story unfolds, culminating in -- oh, never mind, you'll have to read it. (And it is fantastic!) I'll tell you one thing though... this book was written with the details of the concept complexities in mind.
Oh! Oh! And the main character!
The main character is human in every sense of the word. Not the stereotypical hero with the mission and justice always in his thoughts and actions. No, his character is humanly inconsistent. His morals and judgement wavered depending on who or what it is involved. I know I'm more forgiving when it comes to friends and people I care about than I am towards a complete stranger. And you see that characteristic in this character often... sometimes with himself. (You'll get it when you read it.)
As a writer I don't know HOW he wrote this book. The depth of chaos and timing get all wrapped up, twisted, and twirled. I, as the reader, barely kept up with the progression of the story. I can't imagine having to have outlined it.
Very impressed by the skill and technique used to complete this book, which is really why I felt compelled to post my thoughts here on my blog. Reading books like this get me jazzed about the art and technical skills of writing.
So there's my thoughts on "Man in the Empty Suit". If you're going to read it, just make sure you have enough time because you're not going to want to put it down.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Sunday, January 5, 2014
A bond between parent and child can be joyous, contentious, challenging, and rewarding all at once. Life with a teenage daughter is oftentimes all four of those things on crack. There is nothing easy about it. At the same time there is nothing you desire to succeed at more.
My daughter and I are close. However, it pales in comparison to the bond my daughter has with her father. In her eyes he is what has, is, and will forever define her world. He is to her the definition of strength, love, loyalty and safety.
When she talks about being old enough to find the love of her life, she describe her father. His strength of character, his loyalty to family and friends, his strength in trials and tribulation and above all the sense of safety and acceptance he always gives his children. (Even when he doesn't understand them at all.)
It doesn't help that my daughter and her father are so similar in personalities it's uber wonky.
It's in part because their relationship that Lilly's Journey came to be in my mind. I wanted to celebrate that connection.
The guidance Lilly's seeks from her father's lessons are invaluable to her along the wild journey she embarks on.
Saturday, August 31, 2013
No, no, not you. Sorry, that came out all kinds of wrong. I was talking to the characters in my head.
It's a love/hate thing and right now I'm in the hating kind of mood.
"You don't hate anyone or thing, AR... you just really, really dislike them/it."
Eh, no, I'm going with hate today.
This is by far the hardest story I've written. I don't know what it is. I've been struggling with it more than any other story. I go through periods of, "Yes! I got this shit!" to, "What the f is happening right now?"
Of course, it could be like the birthing phenomenon. You know, chemicals are released throughout the body that sets in a kind of physical and emotional amnesia at the true level of pain you felt during labor. Maybe it's like that. My brain (or characters) release a chemical in my head after each manuscript is done that makes me forget the struggles of each story.
Yeah, yeah, that's it. Has to be.
Okay, enough whining. I'm off to battle through my story, because I refuse to let writing barriers force me into giving up. The story is in there and I will get it on paper... even if I have to rip the brain bits out by hand and splat them on the damn screen.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Sorry all, but Mommy Duties have dominated my week, happily. My eldest is heading off to the Marines Sunday and my daughter is turning 17 today. Hence, there was a lot of shit to do.
Planning, crying, buying, crying, packing, crying...you know how it goes.
Today I'm revisiting my outline for Brotherhood and going to sit in the quiet of the house, since the kids are all asleep, to write a little. Normally I would be sipping coffee, nibbling walnut banana bread and writing at Starbucks but I feel the need to hang nearer to home.
Pfft, I wonder why? My first born is only leaving home for the first time, heading to boot camp, and then becoming a defender of our country...
Posted by A. R. Norris at 8:01 AM
Saturday, August 17, 2013
When writing the future, I often reflect on the past to help me create my "world".
Take, for example, the simple decision of how tall to make your characters. Most writers just choose what attracts them most. "The tall, strapping man glided in on his space bike to flash his dazzling, perfect smile at the tall, willowy ladies through the space port viewer."
But, who's to say that it's realistic? Health and physical stature is environmentally dependent.
Let's continue with the height thing. Height is a global indicator of environmental health. Men during the early Middle Ages were almost as tall as modern man today. Basically, people living 1 to 2 thousand years ago had it as good as us climate and social economic- wise.
Trippy... I know, right? They were in a warm period like we are today. They had room to both grow plenty of crops and keep away from other people's germs. Plus, they didn't have the social networking to deal with so they may have been happier, since FB studies have shown people are less satisfied with their lives after a FB session.
It is believed a "perfect storm" of social and climate factors hit when people began losing inches. These factors included the mini ice age, the increased trend of trading routes and the growth of towns into full-blown cities. Due to close proximity of this new urbanization, communal disease flourished and agricultural production -- which was already declining due to the colder weather -- was overtaxed.
We went from an average of 68.27 inches to down to an average of 65.75 inches by the end of 18th century.
It was only during the 19th century that height started to really return. The war had decreased the population pressures in many cities (cold, I know, but a fact just the same) and health care advancements and environmentally conscious thinking has helped to recover the stature of humans, which again, is a sign of a healthy world.
So, in writing what do we take away from this? Well, when world-building I always think through what kind of world/setting are the characters both in and from. Are they from a heavy industrial society or from an agriculturally driven world? Are they rich or poor (which can make up a difference of 1-3 inches against the average)? Are they from a city/crowded space port or a rural area? If from a city/space port, how is the health care in that society?
What factors do you all look at when designing your "people" in stories?
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Today, writing was like a river. A winding, damned up river.
It was humiliating to admit that dream last week threw my writing mojo off. Here I thought I'd evolved into a "mature writing business woman".
Blagh! So much for that.
After emotionally recovering from the dream like the baby I am, I'd lost the writing rhythm. Both blog writing and book writing. It was hard to even get my ass to the Saturday Starbucks writing session!
I resented myself. Resented my story. Resented my characters.
I sat pouting at my screen, throwing a full blown mental tantrum.
"You're not leaving here until you at least write two scenes, you little brat," I told myself.
"No, I refuse."
"Fine, sit there staring at the screen like the idiot you are, then," I scolded.
And I did, for a good twenty minutes, until I knew I was serious with myself.
"Fine, I'll write ONE scene you jerk."
"No, two, but you can start with one."
(I can be a smartass sometimes, even with myself.)
Four scenes later I sat pissed off because my keyboard's battery died and I couldn't continue.
Man, I'm such a know-it-all. And let me tell you, that disease only grows when I'm right. After huffing over the loss of keyboard power I sat calmer and more mentally focused than I had been since the dream.
I needed to get back on the fictional kayak, cruising the writing river. It really is odd sometimes how we fight ourselves and our nature. Even when we know something will be good for us we try to do what we think will be easier and less accountable to ourselves.
Well, I must scour the house for a battery so I can continue writing this evening. For now it's housecleaning and mommy time with the kids. (They should be awake by now.)
Saturday, July 27, 2013
I'm going to tell this from the completely immersed POV.
Last night I feel asleep and woke up in a parallel dimension. I didn't immediately know this as it was my own bed in my own house next to my own husband. However, I learned quickly when he woke an nearly had a heart attack. Then, in answer to his loud voice of surprise, the kids came in equally shocked.
See... I'd died curing my 2011 craniotomy in this other dimension.
I spent the whole day with my kids and husband, learning their griefs and struggles. Seeing how much they love me. Something I don't think I allow myself to see in the everyday life of normality. The joy in them was so pure and the sadness at what my death had put them through shred through me.
Then I went to sleep and woke in the middle of the universe, facing the Great Engineers. A supreme cohort of master planners whose job it was to create, manage and monitor the dimensions and all their universes within.
Basically their statement was a big fat, "Oops, our bad."
The dream state is the tricky period where folks can slip into other dimensions if not carefully monitored. It was then left to me to decide. Stay in my appropriate dimension, or stay in the dimension I awoke to. No chances to say good bye to either.
Just leave one to wake to a missing mother or leave one to relive the grief of losing their mother all over again.
What kind of decision is that? They are both my legitimate family. Then as horrible dreams go, I really woke up. And I cried. (I know, I know, totally sissy of me. Sorry.)
"That is a decision that no mother should face, even in a fictional setting," I thought to myself in the wee hours of this morning.
But, that is exactly the kind of decision a mother should face in a fictional setting. We have to torture our characters and push them to the limits that no real human should face, because that is what allows us to exam and confirm our definition of humanity.
So, now I sit here writing in Starbucks, stuck in the emotional turmoil of the experience. I haven't been this... I don't know quite how to explain it in words to truly convey my feelings to you all. Imagine that, a writer with no words. Some author I am.
Anywho, I'm signing off with one last conundrum of the over imaginative mind of AR... Was it really just a dream, or did it really happen in the fantastical world that is this amazing, mysterious existence?
Posted by A. R. Norris at 8:40 AM