Life on Ramen

I have always been about creating. I love to write, to create adventures and characters with my friends through RPGs and LARPs, to produce plays and portrayals through acting on stage. All through my life I have created.

One such creation that I had was called Life on Ramen. It was a sprite comic that I produced while I was in college. Keep in mind – this was during the hay day of sprite comics. We had Bob and George on the one hand and 8-Bit Theater on the other. It was an awesome time. If you had MS Paint and a few sprite sheets, you could make a webcomic.

Mine was about myself and some of my friends and our various insanities. I called it ‘Life on Ramen’ because I was in college and that was pretty much my only non-campus sustenance. I found the comic very funny and I put a lot of work into updating it on GeoCities. You know, back when GeoCities existed.

It was the first piece of something I had created that I shared outside of my personal bubble. I put it up on the internet and I joined some webrings (does anyone remember those? 🙂 ) and I posted it for feedback and fun.

It was something I had never done before – exposed myself like that to a strange audience. I remember being a little scared of it, at least at first, but also excited. I had hoped that I would find some folks who liked it – there were certainly enough 8 and 16 bit Sprite comic lovers out there at the time.

There wasn’t a lot of original content to it, I will admit now. But as I gained new skills and software (thanks Ferris), it improved. I had some fun characters and some, in my opinion, funny humor. There were a lot of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moments – which I still find funny.

Any how, I thought I would share this memory of my first time putting my work out for public critique and see if anyone else wanted to comment. What was your first time sharing something publicly like? What made it exciting or interesting to you?

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White Tower

Click HERE to buy The White Tower from Amazon.com!

I bought the paperback version of this novel from a local vendor (sorry Amazon. I love my little stores too) and finally had a chance to sit down and read it. On the whole, this is a good story with a lot of fun elements to it.

The story opens in a classic fantasy opening with Damion being tasked by his father with a quest that, at 11 years old, he doesn’t really understand. However, that there is terror and Dad involved, he commits to the promise of delivering ‘The Key’ to the White Tower.

Jump forward and Damion is now a young man working on a farm when his promise to his father comes back to his mind, setting him off on a quest to finish what it was he was supposed to have done more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, things don’t go especially smoothly as a number of complications arise. For one thing, the farmer’s daughter has a son who decides to follow Damion. For another, he has absolutely no idea where the White Tower is. Add on to that a rather sinister figure hunting for him and a little bit of young adult attraction and you have all of the elements of an excellent story popping up.

Damion is an interesting and fairly well developed character, especially for a premier novel. Some of the ‘first’ books that I read on my Kindle forget that ‘first’ is often ‘last’ and will forget to have an identifiable protagonist. Not so in The White Tower. Damion is a pretty well rounded character who reminds me, more than anything else, of Peter Parker – he is determined but flawed with a great deal of heart and concern for others. He’s not an excellent swordsman or a lone-wolf adventurer; he is an every man with the flaws that entails. And those flaws do actually matter – the cost him opportunities and respect in many cases when he meets someone with a greater skill set than his own. Damion recognizes that and works with what he has. His determination to ‘always keep his promises’ is noble, but also comes in to conflict with the story as well and creates for some good character dynamics.

The secondary cast, on the other hand, is a bit less rounded. The Princess and her bodyguard are memorable, but not as well developed as our protagonist. She reminds me far too much of Princess Leia in ‘A New Hope’ when Luke and Han show up and she doesn’t really move on from that state very well. There are some moments of character development, but they feel a bit forced to me. Our main antagonist (I won’t spoil the book with specific names here because it is somewhat important to the plot) is similarly evil. How do we know he is evil? Well, he uses mind control and crushes windpipes right at the get go and only gets worse from there. So, he is easily identifiable as evil and we know not to like him.

The world, on the other hand, is very well developed. It appears to be a sort of post apocalypse world. There are instances of the old world occasionally – broken down roads, some bits and pieces of electricity, even a minor villain named Holland – to hint at the fact that *something* happened in the past that resulted in the downfall of humanity that has left us in a sort of lurch. There are hints and some good revelations in the story (again, I try not to do plot spoilers in reviews) but that really only deals with the layout. The culture and societies all have unique elements and interact believably. There is a lot of the depth to this world and I look forward to reading the sequel.

Given the ending, I am assuming a sequel at least.

On the whole, this was a fun read. I strongly encourage readers to pick up a copy of ‘The White Tower’ for an excellent Holiday read. 🙂

Characters – 3.5/5
Plot: 4/5
Action: 4/5
Value: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Total Rating: 3.95/5

A Practice Solicit for My Book

A century has passed since the War of the Three Kingdoms was fought. A century since the arcane and the divine crossed blade leaving the world in the hands of the Gods. Born at the end of the conflict, Alista Traakard has been lead to ancient, arcane secrets by her Goddess. Standing against the changes to her church, Alista flees with only her sword and a tome.

Hard work and smart business are the trademarks of the Carlyle family and separate them from the other noble houses of Darien. As eldest son, Deacon Carlyle stands to inherit his father’s business empire. Princess Serena, however, appears to have other plans for the kingdom – plans which don’t include the Carlyles.

Vicor Traven is more like his elven bodyguard than any half-orc should be. His desire to see the world conflicts with the rigid structure and discipline his father, and people, demand. Trusting to fate, he and his bodyguard have escaped Vicor’s rigid life to experience more of the world than Traven’s father would ever allow.

When the three come together in one of Darien’s seaports, it appears to be coincidence, but is it? Or is someone seeking to alter the balance of the world as it stands and cause the pendulum to swing freely once more? “

Insights and Interest on Self-Publishing Article

So, I recently read an article linked on one of the blogs I follow – I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

Encyclopedia discusses some interesting thoughts in the post and I encourage any of you who follow me to check it out. It’s an interesting blog in the first place and much better about updating than I am.

Anyway, I read the linked article about self publishing, which I will also link. It’s by Dana Beth Weinberg, whom I’ve never met or even heard of. However, some of her insights and thoughts jumped out at me. In particular, I read this line: 

Emotions run high when writers and publishers debate the merits of self-publishing. Some people hold that self-published authors couldn’t break into the world of traditional publishing, gave up, and rushed their poor quality work to market. Others praise self-publishing as a democratizing force that makes it possible for authors to share their stories, even when traditional publishers, perhaps wrongly, imagine those stories don’t have large and lucrative markets. As such, self-publishing gives authors the freedom to share stories with limited appeal or, alternatively, the means to demonstrate marketability and perhaps attract a traditional publisher. In yet another view, self-publishing is a highly entrepreneurial activity. Self-published authors take home a larger share of royalties, and by cutting out the publisher middlemen, they stand to bring home a lot more cash even if they sell fewer books than they would with traditional publishers.

 

I’ve mentioned before that I am a web comic fan. This comes off as a very similar attitude to the one that web comics faced back when they started. There were several articles talking about the phenomena of web comics and their impact on the industry. The first sets of articles discussed how poor they were and how they would never have a significant impact on the comics industry. Later, as they became more popular and several of the more well known ones – Penny Arcade, MegaTokyo, Dinosaur Comics, and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal to name a few – began to really get their name out there, there was discussion of keeping web comics and traditional ones separated. Yes, the traditional comics acknowledged, these guys do exist. But they are not our competition, they are their own crowd. Now it is, generally, acknowledged that traditional comics and the web comic medium are contesting for similar audiences. Web comics are being printed, traditional comics are being digitized in to readers.

I see a similar pattern in the research and tone of the Self Publishing article. While I agree with many of the thoughts and tones of it, ultimately, I think we are going to see a very similar pattern to the one we have seen in Web Comics and music – an acknowledgement, separation, and finally acceptance of the self publishing movement. We will also see similar trends – some self publishing authors will become quite successful, others only moderately so. Some will grab on to specific niche markets and squeeze it like a garrote, others will go for general appeals.

Personally, I am excited for the notion. As I’ve stated before – I am working very hard on my writing (well, as hard as I can. I’m also a new father, and, let’s face it, babies are pretty awesome. Especially mine!) and if I can’t find someone to buy it then I’ll probably go with self-publishing.

Just thought I would share a bit.

On the positive side – things are starting to settle down over here and I should be back to posting my reviews and other posts more regularly. I’m going to start with a once a week update schedule to get myself back in to the pattern and advance from there. Thanks, everyone, for your patience! 

Please, feel free to leave your thoughts or ideas below!