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Years ago on a cold, rainy day, when I was in my college library, I stumbled across a copy of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Having read his Martian Chronicles and Illustrated Man and liked them somewhat, I thought I ought to give it a try. It was a short book and I figured it would be a way to while away the doldrums of a boring day.
Needless to say, Fahrenheit 451 did more than just chase away boredom. I was sucked in and didn't move from my spot until I finished the whole thing. It's a powerful book that to me is by far Bradbury's best work. When I was done reading the story, I consumed the afterward and learned something that stuck with me until today.
Bradbury explained that he sat in the basement of the UCLA library and finished the first draft in nine days. His publisher, upon reading it, told him to double the size of the draft so they could publish it. So Bradbury spent another nine days in the UCLA library and punched out a literary masterpiece. While editing process took weeks, it nevertheless amazes me that he got it done so quickly. I always thought if I could write so well and so fast, then maybe being an author was in the cards for me.
As of today, seventeen days after I started the sequel to The Darkest Autumn, the first draft is done. Certainly, the book needs to be edited and cleaned up, but what's amazing is that I did over 55,066 words in 17 days or about 3,239 words per day. I can claim I wrote faster than Bradbury! While I did have the advantage of a computer over a typewriter, and it's doubtful my work is anywhere as good as Fahrenheit 451, it's nevertheless reassuring to know that I can at least write faster than him.
It was a rush to finish another book this year. Tomorrow the editing process begins. As for the third book in the series, I'm going to take a break for a few days and let my hands rest up.
Over the few weeks, I've tried several times to start the sequel to The Darkest Autumn. Each time I felt the beginning didn't reflect the book I wanted to write. Then today, following a streak of inspiration, I wrote 9083 words today!
Today was just the start, but writing this series is so much fun. Let's see if I can beat my writing time for The Darkest Autumn.
It's Monday morning, the beginning of the work week. Don't be sad, because I bring two awesome things to you:
On Saturday I wrote over EIGHT THOUSAND WORDS. That's a record for me. My forearms are sore, but it was worth it.
All those words allowed me to FINISH the storyline of Siege! It tops off at thirty-four chapters plus a glossary and cast of characters list I use to track people, places, and things. Yes, it still needs proofing, editing, and cleanup, but the hardest part is done! HOORAY!
Here's the first chapter of The Darkest Autumn, my upcoming fantasy novel:
Vetch loved the crisp mornings of Seventh Day. It was the beginning of a day of free time. This was his time to enjoy time away from the constant training he faced as he got older.
Being a younger son his career had been chosen: he was to train as a squire. That meant his days were filled with hour after hour of grueling physical drills and tedious instruction. It was a hard life, but since he had begun as a squire five years ago on his eleventh birthday, the bullying he had endured had gone away.
He looked forward to his eighteenth birthday when he would be eligible for knighthood. If he proved himself after that point, he would be knighted. But that was still nearly two years away.
Today he and the five other young squires of Sir Donal had passed through the Upper Valley Wall and into the higher reaches of the Lower Valley.
In their company had come three maids, the teenage daughters of noble families. Vetch admired them from afar, admiring their figures and the way they sat sidesaddle on their horses. Dunn, one of Vetch's best friends, had convinced the girls to join them. He had even gone so far as to dare the maids to come without a chaperone, which they had done.
They reached the blackberry brambles that grew alongside a portion of the Ambria River not far from the Great Stone Bridge. The squires dismounted and spread out to pick berries. The light armor they wore even during their free time would shield them from the thorns that protected the berries. Even better, the beginning of autumn meant that the scorching heat of summer didn't bake the young men in their gear.
Having filled his pouch with sweet, tart berries, Vetch moved slowly out of the brambles. He had to be careful, the sharp thorns were quite talented at finding hands or hair to catch on. He walked over to the baskets and dumped his pickings.
Vetch heard sweet, feminine laughter. From the brambles, the maids were looking his way and sharing a private joke. Amongst them was Lina, a lovely black-haired girl of the same age as Vetch. He thought her the most beautiful girl in the world. She caught his eye and smiled, and he shyly turned away.
"If you sit next to her, she isn't going to mind," Gilder said as he walked up with his own load of berries. "If you talk to her, she's even going to talk back."
Vetch glared at his one of his two best friends. "I'm not afraid of her," he said.
Gilder chuckled as he dumped his berries into the basket. "I'm not going to argue courage with you, but if you aren't afraid, why don't you talk to her?"
Vetch frowned as he tried to think of a retort. Before he could say anything, Gilder continued, "Listen, I'm not insulting you. I'm your friend. I'm encouraging you."
Vetch hung his head.
Before Vetch and Gilder could continue, they heard the sound of a horn. Both boys looked downslope towards the rest of the Lower Valley. There lay the town of Ravenna, and beyond that the final wall of the mountain domain of Ambria. As they gazed downwards, the horn sounded again. This time, the Ravenna town bell followed, ringing constantly.
"It's not on the hour. And there is no pattern in horn or bell..." Vetch said in a whisper.
"The town's under attack!" Gilder shouted.
From other brambles emerged the other squires, Dunn, Rok, Arrog, and Lench.
"To horse! We'll go help them," Dunn said.
Besides Rok, Dunn was the tallest of the squires. Naturally athletic, he was the one that Vetch worried most about taking Lina out from under him. On the other hand, Dunn was Vetch's other best friend. Just two years ago Vetch and Dunn had pledged to always stand by each other's side in battle.
"No. We must get back, protect these young ladies, and attend our master," Arrog ordered. He was the oldest and by custom, the others had to defer to him.
"I don't think so," Gilder said. He brushed past Arrog and vaulted onto his horse. "The town's in a panic. People need our help."
"I agree," Dunn said as he too vaulted onto his horse.
"Duty dictates that we return to our masters," Lench said as he grabbed the bridles of Gilder and Dunn's horses "Sir Donal will be expecting us".
Vetch wasn't surprised by Lench's behavior. These days he always followed Arrog's lead.
"Let go of my horse," Gilder said with a snarl. "People could be dying."
"We're going back to the Upper Valley," Arrog said as he put his hand on his sword hilt.
The air became tense with the threat of violence. To Vetch the world had turned surreal. For the first time in a hundred years, the town was under attack. Yet his friends were arguing, nearly to blows. Frozen in indecision, he looked at Lina. Her lovely brown eyes filled with emotion, she mouthed the words, "Do something."
Courage filled Vetch's heart. For once he was the one to speak up while his friends debated. "Stop fighting!" he projected with the commanding voice all of them had been taught. "Those who want to go up the mountain with Arrog can do so. We'll split up! Anyone who thinks going to town is the right thing to do, go!"
Lench released the bridles. Dunn and Gilder wheeled their mounts and began their descent toward the town. The other young men and women began to mount up.
"If you go to the town, you'll be reneging in your duty," Arrog shouted as he began the ride toward the Upper Valley. Reminded of his duty, Vetch thought of their liege and master, Sir Donal. What would he say if they abandoned duty and went to the defense of Ravenna instead?
The maids and the other squires, Rok and Lench followed Arrog. Lina turned back and caught Vetch's eye. She smiled at him before riding away.
Her smile made Vetch heart beat with pride. He had done the right thing, had kept friends from blows. Now it was time for yet more courage. Instead of following Arrog, Vetch went the other way towards Ravenna, following Dunn and Gilder.
Vetch knew Sir Donal would punish him later, but he also knew he was doing the right thing.
My birthday is coming up on July 24th, and I'd like to celebrate by giving back. I can't thank you all enough for the incredible outpouring of support. But what I can do is give you a gift!
Starting on July 21st and ending sometime late on July 25th, you can download free copies of my dark fantasy novel, Into the Brambles to your Kindle device or app.
It would mean a lot to me if you read my book. Honestly, every time someone tells me that they just finished reading Into the Brambles, it really makes my day.
Also, if you read it, please write a review! It's a huge thrill whenever I see new reviews, even ones with honest, constructive criticism.
This is the non-fiction side of me that I usually don't write about here. I just wanted to let you all know that a new version of my technical book, Two Scoops of Django: Best Practices for Django 1.8 is out.
Like any author, as soon as I released my first fiction book on Amazon through Kindle Select, I excitedly informed everyone I knew. Unfortunately, many friends and family informed me that they didn't have Kindles. They asked if there was any way they could read it without a Kindle.
Here's the deal. You don't need a Kindle to read it. All you need is the Kindle app for your smartphone or tablet, or Kindle software for your computer.
Just click on the link below for your particular device to download the appropriate free Kindle app:
Or, if you have Chrome, Firefox or Safari installed, use Kindle Cloud Reader to read Kindle books without having to install any new software.
Once you have a Kindle app installed, you get access to the Kindle store. Then just search for my name, and the book will come up.
In the future I hope to release it on other platforms besides Kindle, but for now I'm locked in due to the terms of the Kindle Select Program.
After a year of writing and four months of thorough revision, I'm excited to announce that my first fiction book is now out!
As of today, it's available in Kindle format on Amazon. The name of the book is Into the Brambles. It's the first book of what will be a longer The Brambles fantasy epic.
The world was ancient, scarred from a thousand wars between gods, immortals, and heroes. Old grudges have faded but are not forgotten.
At the end of a so-called ‘age of peace’, two great nations of immortals march against each other, with humanity caught in the middle. In this world of conflict, three very different individuals are thrust into the face of danger.
Here a young man is marched off to war, a noble woman takes charge of her own destiny, and in the depths of the Haunted Lands a dark king is born. Their fates will shake the foundations of the universe.
In the book, I explore three primary characters. Like us, they are victims of circumstance. What they make of those circumstances affects not just themselves but the world around them. In other words, they make decisions and act on them. Unfortunately, good intentions and casual cruelty are both recipes for making bad decisions.
Even though I began putting pen to parchment (or keyboard to file) a year and a half ago, elements of the story have been brewing in my head for much longer. Writing the book involved a New Year's Resolution, the encouragement and editing of my wife, family, and friends, plus a lot of coffee.
If you would like to buy my book, you can do so on Amazon for the introductory price of $2.99, the same price as a cup of coffee. The book is also in the Kindle Unlimited program, at least for now.
I spend a lot of time online. My professional career as a software engineer demands it. Like everyone else, it’s how I stay in contact with friends and family. I also use it for recreation, watching movies and reading articles and books via the internet. Finally, most of my writing hobby involves the use of tools that connect to the cloud.
This internet is wonderful, but I want to give it a break. I need to recharge. I want to step away from the connected universe and enjoy planet Earth for a while. Maybe I’ll check my personal email once or twice, or post snippets of writing here on my author blog, but that’s it. I want the chance to kick back, unwind, and write my fiction unhindered by the temptation to know what’s going on in the world.
Yes, in the old days they called this a vacation.
Where am I going off the grid? I’m off to the Philippines with my wife Audrey from December 21st to January 2nd. I can’t wait for the wonderful, hot weather, a welcome break from Southern California’s chilly winter weather. Some might say that where I live doesn’t get cold, but I’m the kind of person who can go for most of a hot summer without air conditioning. Dropping below 70°F is too cold for my blood. When I come back, I’ll be recharged and ready to dive back into things. I’m so excited about releasing my first fiction book, “Into the Brambles.”
Last night’s heavy rain had evolved into a constant, slow fall. The wind remained, pushing itself into faces, tossing trash recklessly across the boulevards.
The rain deepened the colors of the forest. Trees had greener leaves, browner trunks. The leaves hung heavier on their branches, as if about to give birth to new life on the next sunny day. The wind stirred the branches, wiping the moisture off the leaves. Thus removing the ability of the trees to provide cover from the rain. At the furthest tips of the highest branches, purple flower buds were just blossoming. Proof that this cold, rainy day was the beginning of spring.
Pavement tiles had little streams in the crevices. To an insect these were as raging torrents, sweeping victims to oblivion.
Overhangs gave protection, but only after walkers braved curtains of run-off.
If the sky was canvas, then God was spreading clouds across it like the first layer of paint. Lighter patches stood in contrast to the darker shades. In a minute the canvas had changed, the clouds rushing across the visible sky, the space between buildings.
Inside the cafe was warm, dry. Smelled of heated air and coffee. The glass window next to the table a welcome barrier, turning an unpleasant day into a warm, rich experience.
Written on the corner of Santa Fe and Carlos Pellegrini, Buenos Aires, Argentina