Friday, October 31, 2014

I'm Writing A Lot

Hello there! It's been a while since my last post, but for somewhat of a good reason: there wasn't a whole lot to talk about. But now there is! And so I will spill the beans.

Writing: During the two weeks my family was on vacation, I wrote a total of 11,068 words, which was fantastic! Obviously not as much as I could have gotten done, but a significant amount when compared to what I usually get done. In that time, I wrote a short story to its completion (Annoyance In The Air, which needs some revision, but should be finished soon), and another short story almost to its completion before I realized that I was going to have to scrap the whole thing because it was way too complicated to be a short story. I also got closer to completing Spend A Winter In Hell, but got stuck on the ending of that, and am going to run it by some people to get their input, and false started another short story that turned out to also be too complicated (this is me trying to put too many magic powers in a short story), but did provide a springboard for a very interesting character arc that I'll use later.

Since then, I've been doing some editing on short stories and my novella, while worldbuilding and outlining for my NaNoWriMo novel, To Look Skyward. I still have a lot of worldbuilding to do before I'll be completely satisfied with everything I need to know about the world, but tomorrow is when NaNoWriMo starts, so I'll have to be quick about that if I want it done before I have to start putting words to paper. All in all, though, I'm very satisfied with how the outlining process has been going. I've done more outlining than I usually do on a project (but recently it has all been shorter stories, so there's that), and I think the first half of the story is pretty solid in terms of story structure as a result. The last half, though... I still need to work on that. I have a feeling that once I hit that I'll either have a wonderful shot of inspiration and figure out the direction I need to go...or I'll need to brainstorm with my writer friends about where the heck I'm supposed to go with it.

Just as an aside, I also came up with a very interesting short story idea a couple days ago, as a result of one of the writing sprints for a NaNo Write-in. I didn't have time to go into it very fully, as I needed to focus on To Look Skyward, but I'm excited to write that in December sometime.

Music: Well, it looks like my plan to go to a recording studio in October has been postponed, because of crazy schedules on both sides, and so that's not going to happen until sometime later. But that's okay. I have recording equipment that suits my needs, and a good program to work with, so I can have fun with demos for now. I've been slowly but surely working on A Promise To Write's demo, but it still needs more work before I'll be satisfied with it. I did make an acoustic demo of my newest song, entitled "The Girl", and so there's that. I really like this song, so hopefully soon I'll release it somewhere. I also have the opportunity to play one of my original songs (with the rest of the worship band accompanying me) at my church this Sunday, so that's exciting. I'll be playing Somebody Has To Start, which is one of my favorites that I've written.

I'm planning on recording a rather special song in early December (after the craziness of NaNoWriMo dies down), but it's a secret as to what it's ultimate goal is, so I will not say anything more.

Reading: If you're at all interested in what I'm reading right now, you can follow me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Xcarthan12 -- as of now I'm reading through a bunch of different books, some non-fiction, but mostly fiction. Part of that is my annual reread of the Belgariad and the Malloreon series by David Eddings, ten books of absolute awesomeness that formed a significant portion of my childhood.

Listening: So, the other day, I fell in love with a New Zealander composer named Rhian Sheehan. You should go check out his music. Right now. It's so beautiful. http://rhiansheehan.bandcamp.com/

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Well, that's about all, so I'll sign off. Hopefully this is interesting to you in some way.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Next (Late) Update

Sorry about the lateness of this post. Well, I would be sorry if anyone ever read this, but whatever. Nothing too crazy has been going on in my life, internet. Just working, making music, and writing fiction. Crazy thing happened, though: my family just left on a two week vacation without me. This is the first time they've done that in...well, ever. So, right now I'm sitting in the living room by myself, after binge watching Legend of Korra, and I'm a little lonely. You don't realize how much you miss talking to your family about things until they're literally not able to talk to you about things.

So, for two weeks, I'm going to be working, writing, making music, and doing the chemistry I should have been doing the last three weeks of September. Hopefully I'll make some progress in all of those areas.

Writing: Clock Strikes Death is finally being read by some critiquers (took long enough) and so I should have some feedback on it soon. Also, I finished To Look Skyward, though it didn't necesarrily turn out how I hoped, and only fueled the fire for a project of mine that's beginning into the outline stage: my NaNoWriMo novel. I decided to write it in the same world as was To Look Skyward, and have those characters be a part of that story. To be honest, since I'm never going to use that short story for anything other than fuel for that story's fire, and I like the title To Look Skyward so much, I'm probably just going to steal that name for the NaNoWriMo novel and scrap TLS Prime entirely. Oh, I've also been in the process of writing a few other short stories that should be finished soon that I'm very excited about, and once I get enough of those, I'll probably release a short little anthology on NoiseTrade (though I'll need to get them proofread and polished up first).

Music: Well, I did actually put one of my songs on YouTube, one I wrote for one of my best friends, Miranda Steiner, for her birthday. You can find that below. (Yes, I know there's buzzing. I don't know what caused it, and it's gone now, so I didn't bother re-recording the entire song). I'm now working on a demo for what is probably my favorite song I've ever written: A Promise To Write. I really like the way it's coming along, and I'm going to get to work on it more tomorrow.


Chemistry: Eh, you don't need to know how far behind I am on that.

Well, that's about all for now, except for one last thing. If you've ever heard of John Maxwell, you'll know what I'm about to talk about. If you haven't, you should, because his speaking is incredible and very inspirational. Well, anyway, he says that everyone should have a Rule of Five. Five things you do every day that will make you successful in what you want to be in life. John's Rule of Five is Think, Ask Questions, Read, File, and Write (those may or may not be in the right order, and there may or may not be an actual right order at all). He challenges others to find their own personal Rule of Five, and to stick with it every day.

This is my personal Rule of Five:

  1. Communicate (with God, through prayer and the reading of His Word, and with those that I love).
  2. Read (fill myself up with stories, life-lessons, and ideas)
  3. Think (think about deep life issues, or story ideas, or the future)
  4. Sing (whether with my voice, or with instruments, just create music)
  5. Write (whether it be song lyrics, non-fiction, a letter to someone I love, or stories)
Obviously, there are a lot of other important things to do during a day, but those I will undoubtedly do because I have to in life. My Rule of Five is a reminder to me to do important things that I may forget to do, but are also vitally important. As of today, I will be doing these five things every day. Or, at least, I will try very hard to. I want to try, at the very minimum, to do it every day for a year. I've been more or less consistently writing lately, but I could stand to do that better as well, and my other four things.

So, wish me luck. I'm off to change the world, one word at a time.

Monday, September 1, 2014

When September (And October And November And December) Ends

It's been a while since I've written, so I decided to pop back in and give all the people who read this (so, almost no one) an update. I've been writing fiction, though not quite as much as I'd have liked to, and though I did finish the first draft of my Clockwork Cowboy story, it took me a lot longer than was expected, and as such, I'm only partially into my new short story, To Look Skyward. It's going to take a bit to get that short story to exactly what I want it to be, but I'm gonna work hard at it. In the meantime, people are reading my novella and giving me feedback, so by the time I get around to the second draft, I'll have some comments to work with. I already know most of the problems with it, but I want some input before I tackle it (that, and it's a good idea to distance myself from the project a little before revising).

Most recently, I've been recording demos of my music! So that's exciting. As you already know if you read the last blog post, I just got some recording equipment and an audio program, so I've been recording music like crazy over the last week. Most of the stuff I've been working on with that is either top secret or still not finished, so I can't really share it, but suffice it to say, it's been coming along great. 

As you may know, I've been struggling with whether or not I was going to go to school right away this semester, or take a semester off to work on writing and music, but that was kind of decided for me a little while ago, as it suddenly was too late to really enroll anymore, and so I am officially taking a semester off! I do have a bit of schoolwork from last year (oh, the joys of homeschool) to finish up as well, and so I'll be using this time to get that done and to focus more on my relationship with God, and my writing and music. 

In October, I get the awesome opportunity to go up to the Upper Peninsula to a recording studio with a friend of mine and record some professional music, so that's exciting. You should be seeing music from me on Noisetrade very shortly. And in November (by which time, I should have all the schoolwork leftover done), I'll be doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the first time ever. If you don't know what that is, it's a month in which you take the time to write every single day and crank out 50,000 words by the time you're done, starting a new novel on day one and having a completed (or at least 50,000 words worth, if it's going to be longer than that) novel in your hand by day thirty. I'm still torn on what I want to write for this, but I should have it figured out by November. I have two whole months after all.

That's what I keep telling myself anyway.

And of course, in December, all of my friends return from college and I get to see them all again. So that's really exciting. And you just might be seeing some new music around that time as well... More details to follow.

Well, I suppose I should go do something productive with my time. Not that this isn't. But there are other productive things I could do too. So I'm going to do those. The end.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Recording Demos and Other Audio Stuff

Well, the craziness of the summer has finally died down, and I can take a bit of a step back from constant trips and long work hours in between those trips. It's weird that summer is almost over already--but it always happens this way, so I guess I should be used to it by now.

First off, I'm sad. A huge number of my friends just left Janesville for their respective colleges, leaving me and a select few here in the good ol' hometown to keep on keeping on. Among those are my two best friends of all time, Anna and Miranda. So, yeah, I've been kind of bummed lately.

But anyway, let's get away from the sad and talk about the awesome! Before heading on this last camping trip, I ordered an XLR-to-USB cable, because, thanks to Blimey Cow, I had been getting really interested in audio production. Well, that was one of the best ideas I've ever had. Once I got back from camping, I hooked up a microphone to the computer over at church, and spent a few hours recording a song demo. My guitar even has an XLR plug-in, so the sound quality I got from it was actually quite good.

Yes, it was a crappy demo. I'm not very good at sound design (yet), and I have a lot to learn yet recording music, but it was just so cool to hear a song of mine layered with tracks and put together almost exactly as I imagined it. I'm gonna have some fun with this.

No, I will not be putting any of these demos publicly on the internet. They are very bad, as I have already said.

But, I'm starting to have a lot of fun with various audio stuff. My younger brother Chase and I made a short humorous little audio drama the other day, and I had fun messing with different sound effects and voices for characters, so we'll see what the future holds.

Oh, and ummm... I know this is kind of embarassing, but I'm still not finished with the Clockwork Cowboy story. Sorry about that. It's so close, but I didn't quite as much writing as I wanted to done. Hopefully, I'll finish it this week and be able to start on the new short story idea Trevor and I had.

Until then, have fun with your lives. I'll be having fun with mine.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I Am Currently Writing... Clock Strikes Death

Hello there, internet world. Yes, I know I said this was being resurrected and then proceeded not to write anything for weeks. I'm forgetful like that. Anyway, I thought I'd actually write something now, so yeah! That's something, at least. 

For the past few months I've been working on a novella entitled "Clock Strikes Death". As it stands right now, it's about 13,000 words, but it should be somewhere around 18,000-20,000 when it's completed. I haven't been spending nearly enough time as I wanted to writing it (or as much time as should have, for that matter), but it's almost finished now, and I can see the finish line. My plan is to finish the first draft by the end of this week, and then put it aside next week as I head off on the Student Leader Camping Trip. I have another short story idea that I brainstormed with Trevor Sigmund, one of my close friends, that I want to (hopefully) write while I'm there. That should be considerably shorter, however, and I have the entire story pretty heavily outlined in my head, unlike what is usually the case with stories I write. 

After I come back from that trip, I'll give Clock Strikes Death to some alpha readers, get some input back, and then go into a second draft of that story, which will tackle the several structural problems I know exist in the narrative, and probably a few I didn't. After that, I'll give it to beta readers, who will give me final input on whatever else needs to be fixed, and then it should mostly be done. Most of my prose is pretty clean, so after maybe one or two language/prose/dialogue passes after that, I'll probably put it up on Noisetrade, and then I'll start submitting it to some different markets. I hear TOR has a new novella imprint... 

*laugh silently at myself* In your dreams, kid, in your dreams.

For those who don't know, Clock Strikes Death is part of the setting I like to call, "Clockwork Cowboy", which is part of the 374th Cycle mega-setting in which all of my fantasy books (and the ones that my brother Connor, Trevor, and my friend David will eventually write, hint, hint, nudge, nudge) take place. I say Clockwork Cowboy, but that's kind of a silly way of explaining the setting. It is basically a fantasy western/clockpunk setting, which may also seem silly, but is in actuality a fantasy borrowing elements from westerns and incorporating fantastical clockwork-based technology. While writing it, I also realized it had a lot more grimdark-iness than I originally thought it would have, and subsequently scrapped the theme album I had selected for it, Hans Zimmer's score for The Lone Ranger

Also, for those who didn't know, I select theme albums for almost everything I write, film scores that capture the mood I want for that book/world. I still haven't really decided on another one for the Clockwork Cowboy setting, but I do enjoy The Shawshank Redemption, so that may end up being the theme album.

Anyway, I should really get back to Clock Strikes Death, since I only have until Saturday to finish it, and I have plenty of other things to get done this week. Before I go, I will leave you with a little tease of the novella:

                                                                                                                                                

A ringing in Declan's ears chimed the hour. Nine o'clock. Time to die.
He jolted upright in his cot, tense, waiting for the inevitable sound of booted feet come to drag him away to Eternity. All was silent, however, save the muted tick, tock of his heart. The prison bars before him were a dark, unfriendly grey that seemed to grin at him like the teeth of an arrowbelly. His cell was cramped and freezing, the fireplace just outside its iron door reduced to ashes and offering nothing in the way of warmth. Just like the one other time he had been unfortunate enough to get himself locked away in one of these bunker-prisons. Declan strained to hear anything that would signal that someone was coming for him. He waited for a minute, then two, then five. A half an hour passed as he listened to the muffled ticking of the second hand, and still no one arrived.
Declan frowned, still laying on his cot. He hadn't seen any human guards since he had been thrown into this dark pit of a prison, and only once had he seen any clockwork--a Sentinel, who had silently performed its duty of giving him a plate of dried rations and a tin cup full of water, and then left, emotionless face haunting as always. He had always hated those cold, emotionless monsters.
Where was everyone? Declan stood to his feet and made his way to the iron bars, holding them tightly with calloused hands. He wore nothing but the underclothes he had been wearing the night before--dark grey shirt and trousers that reeked of sweat. Had they decided to just leave him down here to starve? Ironically, that would be a more certain fate than a bullet to the head, at this point. The only chance he had was in the journey from here to the figurative gallows. He had one more trick up his sleeve-literally-but it relied on the hallway just outside the room adjacent to his cell. If he could just get out there…
Declan cursed himself--not for the first time since his imprisonment--for not seeing the ventilation shaft on the way in until it was too late. If his jailor had fumbled for just a moment longer with his keys, he might not be in this mess right now. He would be halfway to Bunnell Creek, laughing at the stupidity of lawmen.
Well, he wasn't laughing now. If no one came to get him, he was dead. Declan couldn't think of a logical reason why they wouldn't come, but he couldn't help worrying nonetheless. He had bad luck. Blasted horrible luck, at that. Come on…you want to see me suffer, right, Biggs? I know you do. Don't just leave me here; you want to see my face when I die. He couldn't believe he was hoping for someone to try and kill him--it just didn't seem right--but that was the only thing that would save him now.
That ventilation shaft…that was the key. Declan had one Card left, his most valuable. He had saved it for years, never wanting to use it, for fear he would never find another one. They only made that kind of clockwork in Enlord City, and they were one of the most powerful types. Luckily, the guards hadn't taken his boots. They'd checked inside, of course--to make sure he didn't have a hidden weapon of some sort. But almost no one expected a boot to have a secret compartment like his did, holding an item so rare and valuable, men would kill a hundred times over to get their hands on it.
Declan liked to be prepared, even in situations that were out of his control. Especially in situations that were out of his control.
Blessedly, footsteps sounded in the hallway moments later, coming with it a hope of escape. It wasn't the metallic clank of a clockwork, but the booted steps of a man. They were coming to get him. Finally.
Declan reviewed the plan of escape in his mind as the sound grew closer. He could get out of this, if he was clever. The prison was very secure, that much was true, buried in the earth a hundred feet down, but it had one weakness. It turned out that there wasn't much air down in the bowels of Orlam, and so you needed to have some sort of ventilation system to filter air through the tunnels, or else anything stuck down here would suffocate. Not the clockwork, of course, they didn't need air, but anything living. A prisoner lucky enough to get inside that ventilation system could, potentially, make their way to the surface and escape. The only problem was that the shafts used to filter the air were entirely vertical, and a hundred feet high. That meant, despite the route to freedom built into the design, no one had ever successfully made it out alive.
Until today.

                                                                                                                                            

Oh, and here's a fake cover I made for it the other day. I obviously can't use this on Noisetrade because...it's someone else's art. But hey, it perfectly gets the theme across, so here you go:


And here is the theme song of the novella. Now that I think about it, Shawshank Redemption is definitely the theme album.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I'm Back!

Yes, it's true, I am resurrecting this blog. For a few reasons: first, I have started to put some of my work out there, and this will be a convenient place to keep those who are interested updated on what I'm doing. Also, I miss blogging. It was fun, and I need to train myself to write things regularly. No, this will not be extensive. I will be updating ONCE a week, and it will basically be an update on what I've been doing, how life is going, and any new projects I have going on. And of course, every once in a while, I'll actually write something poignant or something like that.

It's good to be back.

P.S. Here's the short story I just put out on NoiseTrade: give it a look! :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pulling Out The Stitches

Last week, I got away from it all. Away from the noise, the rush, the stress of life. The last hurrah of the summer--the Student Leader Camping Trip. Nothing but me, the people I love, and God's creation for miles. And it was amazing.

Most of my summers are crazy, packed full of events, trips, and performances. This summer was the craziest so far--I barely had a week to myself before it was time to get ready for the next big thing. But the camping trip slowed me down, made me stop, relax, think. After two and a half months of craziness, I was so ready to get away from everything.

Now, you might say that spending a week with twenty weird (and I mean really weird) teenagers doesn't sound very relaxing, but the truth is, being with my friends is what relaxes me the most. It's what puts everything into focus. Makes it all clear. We can be some of the strangest people you've ever met, but through it all, we're just happy... and content.

When I'm with the people I love, I am at peace with the world--and that's what happened at Cloud Lake a week ago. I was at peace.

I had been dealing with my own struggles, and I was getting so tired by the time the Student Leader Camping Trip rolled around. But God knew exactly what I needed--rest. And so He timed it perfectly so I could go camping with all of my friends for a week--because He's awesome like that.

I needed to heal. I'm not saying that I had some big thing in my life happen that was super hard or anything, I just needed to be put back together. So as I sat in God's creation, I laid down all my stress, problems, struggles, and failures and just let God heal me.

Too often do we take for granted this blessing we have--to rest, to be still in God's presence and have Him make us whole again. We're too busy, too stressed to worry about anything but the next appointment. All the while, God is trying to heal us, revive us, but we won't stop moving. Our savior is sewing us back together, and we're pulling out the stitches.

So I challenge you--be still. Let God recharge you, heal you, put you back together again. Only then will you be able to look at the stress, the problems, and the failures with a mind focused on Him.