“We are Kings”

I am king of the white seas
and the fields of wheat, great trees and cherry.
I fight because by honor I am forced
to protect the weak and tell the story.

I am king of the black fleas
and the barren fields of cemetery.
I fight because all history has coursed
me to fight the battle of no glory.

I am king of the lands of bright.
I’m no Alex, nor Arthur, nor Moses.
I am not freedom or salvation,
only the start of a road not yet taken.

I am king of the lands of night.
I’m no Kim Jong, nor Adolf, nor Genghis.
I am not bondage or damnation,
only the end of a road that has shaken.

I am king of the knights of yea,
the likes of Lancelot and Joan of Arc.
I do not serve Zeus or Poseidon, the clean.
I serve no hand but the hand of man.

I am king of the knights of nay,
the four horsemen ending the final spark.
I do not serve Mars or Hades, the obscene.
I serve no hand but the hand of man.

We are kings of the juxtaposition,
but we are kings of the thesaurus.
We fight the battle to see man’s mission,
but such goals will always abhor us.

We are kings fighting a war
that the great fates have equal scored.
We are kings forced to the floor,
for we are kings of the chessboard.

(c) 2012 by B.S. Meyers

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Book Review: Peter’s Angel

Once again I’ve been fortunate enough to read a pre-release copy of one of Aubrey Hansen’s books! I had the opportunity to beta read the novel, so the intent was to re-read and post this review when the book was released, but rest assured that my thoughts have been simmering in order to offer you the most honest review possible.

I would consider Peter’s Angel primarily a historical fiction novel, but it’s also alternate history. The story is set in an alternate North America, featuring a different set of British colonies. Rhode Island is a smaller colony that is required by peace treaty to pay tribute to New Britain, a large, militant colony that’s loyal to England.

Synopsis: The story follows Peter Jameson, a colonel in the Rhode Island army and son of Rhode Island’s Governor, as he fights oppression from New Britain. Rhode Island is in the process of setting up a mine, but New Britain’s leaders want all of the profit from it. A peace-treaty is broken when New Britain invades Rhode Island, seizing the mine. The Governor of Rhode Island has no choice but to surrender the land to the much stronger colony.

The transition of land into New Britain’s hands is quite simple, however Peter is kidnapped by three traitors in his own army and held for a ransom that would plunge Rhode Island’s citizens into extreme poverty. Hope is far from lost, though, when Peter is rescued by a mysterious boy who won’t give his name and won’t explain why.

Plot: Plot is a crucial aspect of Peter’s Angel. The events in the novel revolve around telling the story of three main characters: Peter, Nathan and Edwin. It’s clear that Aubrey carefully chose the sequence of each event in order to achieve a flowing nature that forces the reader to continue reading. Of course, the narration of each character’s current circumstances would be ineffective if not for the characterization.

Characterization: I believe characterization to be one of Aubrey Hansen’s best traits as a writer. Even though there is a long list of important characters in this novel, Aubrey manages to craft a believable personality for each one, and she stays true to their nature. The character development of Peter, his father, his love interest and his mysterious savior allows the events in the novel to work perfectly.

Historical Accuracy: Besides the whole alternate history thing, the novel is very historically accurate. I’m very good at picking out anachronisms, and I couldn’t find any in Peter’s Angel. Everything down to the date matches the time period, and that’s very important to consider when writing about anything set in another time period. It’s clear that Aubrey Hansen did her homework.

With that said, I’ll leave you with a quote that I believe applies throughout the whole novel:

“You can’t take back bullets,” he whispered. “They’re like words. Once shot, you can’t stop the damage.”

Aubrey Hansen’s Website — Aubrey Hansen on TwitterPeter’s Angel for KindlePeter’s Angel in PaperbackOther Works by Aubrey Hansen

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Over-Explaining Cons

I’ve done a post about over-explaining ideas and objects before, but I feel the concept needs revisiting.

I’ve been reading The Alchemyst by Michael Scott and there’s quite a bit of references in the novel to ancient legends and myths that are inserted between the action-y content of the book. Now imagine reading about an epic battle between magical creatures, and having every other paragraph be an explanation of the origins of the creature and their fictional history.

That would be pretty annoying right?

Well, Michael Scott doesn’t do that. He kept it simple by giving the reader the creatures name (on some occasions) and a quick description: the creature has the body of a man and the head of cat. While I like to know what I’m reading about, I don’t want a biography interrupting the plot of the novel. The Alchemyst would be rather unsuccessful if Michael Scott didn’t write it the way he had: He didn’t over-explain the content of the book, and he didn’t under-explain it either.

I think that happy medium needs to be reached, no matter what the genre. For a fantasy novel I don’t need to know where Aslan came from or how he has the ability to create Narnia, I just need to know that he has control over a strong magic. For a science fiction novel I don’t need to know how the science behind an Infinite Improbability Drive, I just need to know that it’s a form of transportation that takes you through every single reality and area in the universe before arriving at your destination. For realistic fiction I don’t need to know the thought process that led Margo Roth Spiegleman to run away, I just need to know that she had plans for it.

Imagine how The Magician’s Nephew, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Paper Towns would have turned out if everything was over-explained. They would be lesser novels than they are.

So if you’re writing a story about people having the ability to access the internet inside their minds, I don’t necessarily need to know how that ability came to exist. Explain what you need to, leave the rest up to the reader’s imagination.

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Silent Lightning

Alone in the shadows of the moon’s glow,
nighttime has fallen and the stars won’t show.
Silent Lightning, in the air, flickering,
lighting the dark of Mother Nature’s eye.
Silent Lightning is showcasing the sky.

There’s no thunder and no rain; only lightning,
and it’s so beautiful and never fright’ning.
The Earth, the Sky, reaching toward each other,
grabbing with arms of pure electricity,
greeting old friends with simple complicity.

An old, ancient handshake returns in the middle,
releasing serene rain; it’s so warm and little.
The Earth and Sky comfort each other from the night,
with love as old as thousands of millenia;
showcasing the sky, nature’s equilibria.

Awake in the night I’m watching the stars,
and dreaming of a future far, oh so fars:
So vast and so bright and not so far from today.
The scene from the window is so, so enlightening.
Nature’s poetry is very clearly Silent Lightning.
__________________________________
(c) 2012 by B.S. Meyers

Okay, this is another one of my weirdly formatted poems. Each line in the first stanza has 10 syllables, each one in the second has 11 syllables, and each one in the third has 12 syllables. In the last stanza, the first line has 10 syllables, the second has 11, the third has 12, the fourth has 13 and the fifth has 14.

Don’t ask me why the format is so odd, that’s just how my poetry always ends up.

Posted in Poetry | 1 Comment

Does Reading Affect Writing?

This is an old question, and it’s a complicated question: Does reading affect writing?; Does reading make you a better writer?

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I haven’t made a lot of original posts recently: I’ve mostly been reviewing books. I’ve been doing a lot of reading this summer, and it’s hard to tell if it’s made me a better writer. Honestly, how could I ever know if I was a better writer? I can judge my writing all I want, but my opinion isn’t the one that ultimately matters.

When you read a book, you are absorbing ideas and introducing yourself to different styles. Style and thinking about ideas are two parts of being a writer, so in a way, reading does help make you a better writer. If I read a different novel every day, am I going to absorb diction and themes? Yes. I think the biggest reason people think you need to read in order to be a good writer is that reading is learning.

Do I think you need to read in order to write well? No. You could never read a novel in your life, but you could still have a gift for crafting words. For me, reading does play a crucial role: Reading inspires me to write. It is a constant reminder that hey, you’ve got that unfinished novel sitting on your harddrive, you should work on it.

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Book Review: Rumbling Heart

“…life, regardless of my participation, was going to happen whether I liked it or not.”

When I read a book, I always find the plot and the characters to be interesting. I like the story and the ideas that the author had, but most of the time I feel like something is missing. That was not the case with Rumbling Heart by Richard Allen. This novel offered me the one thing I always look for: It was believable.

From the protagonist, to the supporting cast, to the thought process going through their heads, I never once thought This would never happen. Even the plot and events, though they seemed a little out there, were still entirely possible.

Richard Allen did an excellent job using that credibility to his advantage. He did something no novel has ever done to me: He made me want to fall in love again, but that’s not all. Within the same book, he also made me feel the pain of a broken heart. This would never have been possible if Richard Allen was unable to make the story feel realistic. And for that, I commend him.

Synopsis: The story followed John Allen, a computer repairman, that has a violent outburst and loses his job. But that isn’t who John is, not really. John is a victim of emotional and physical abuse from his ex-wife, and when he finally gets away from her, he loses everything else he has. Until he meets Anna.

Tone: There are so many quotes from this novel that I absolutely loved. Richard Allen did an excellent job placing his thoughts into the story. Whether commenting on life, love, or death, I can’t help but feel that Richard Allen knows what it’s all about, and that brought something new to the novel that I’ve never encountered before: The novel felt honest.

Honesty: Every scrap of thought I received from the characters felt honest. Whether it’s how they feel at a particular moment, or how they rationalize their decisions, it all felt true. But honesty plays an even larger role than that, but you’ll have to read the novel to find out what role that is.

Alright, I’ll admit that it seems too good to be true. After all, the only comments I’ve given were positive. But I didn’t dislike any part of this story, and that’s the truth. If it weren’t for my slow reading ability, I never would have set it down. Sure, the story isn’t stuffed full of all of that figurative language you learned about in high school, but that doesn’t matter. In fact, I believe that trying to stuff it with similes, personification, alliteration and hyperboles would have taken away from the story.

My one regret is this: I didn’t wait to read Rumbling Heart until the rest of the trilogy was out. Now I have to wait impatiently for the continuation of the story.

So please, go support Richard Allen by buying his novel on Amazon, Barnes & NobleSmashwords, or in Paperback. If you can’t do that, his short story “Last Night” is available for free on the same sites. Richard Allen is an excellent writer and an excellent person, so don’t hesitate to drop by his Blog or say hello on Twitter.

“Dreams are like butterflies that flutter through our minds while we recover from our lives. Their colors are rich and vibrant at times, and offer us a glimpse into an ideal world where anything is possible.”

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Books vs. Movies

Alright, here’s my policy: If at all possible, watch the movie before reading the book.

Why? Because the movie is almost always a let down after you’ve read the book. By watching the movie first, I can enjoy it as it is, and then I can read the book and appreciate it for what it is. That being said, I’m still going to be the first one in line to see The Hobbit in December, but that’s because the director has basically devoted his life to Tolkien.

Now I’m not saying every movie based on a novel is a terrible let down. The Lord of the Rings movies are excellent. The Harry Potter movies are pretty good, as are the new Narnia movies.

But just because a book is amazing, that doesn’t mean it will make an amazing movie. I saw The Hunger Games movie earlier this year. However, I had read the book beforehand, so I wasn’t entirely impressed. In the movie I didn’t get any of Katniss’ thought process, so it felt like a silent movie with a bunch of action scenes. If I hadn’t read the book before seeing the film, I think I would have been terribly confused.

I saw Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist when it came out. I remember enjoying it, but I didn’t remember all too much of it. Recently I actually read the book and absolutely loved it. But upon re-watching the movie, I couldn’t stand it. The movie was a huge let down. The basic premise was there, but the plot was morphed and the thought process wasn’t there.

And if you’ve been following my blog for a while, I’m sure you’re waiting for my opinion of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie. It was awful. I will say no more.

My suggestion: Unless you’re willing to minimally edit what happens (and, if possible, work with the author) don’t turn books into movies. That being said, I think it’s a huge honor for any author to have their book turned into a film. Just the fact that people liked your book so much should be enough, regardless of the quality of the film.

Posted in About Me, Writing | 2 Comments