Insecure Writer’s Support Group: OMG.. is it REALLY 2012?

So… uh… did anyone notice that 2012 just sort of snuck up on us? No? Is it just me?

Happy New Year guys!!!!
I think I may have officially won the award for worst blogger these last couple of months. I’m currently in the middle of a fantastic cold that I managed to get RIGHT before New Year’s Eve… so it sort of delayed my return even more… *hides face in shame*
I was looking at last year’s resolutions (naturally), and I realized I’d come down with the flu during the holiday season in 2010 as well. Weird, huh?
I don’t think I’m going to make a list of resolutions this year… I’m terrible with them… but I will make just one though, and it’s in honor of our monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group (which by the way, is an awesome way to start the new year and return to blogging – thanks Alex!).
And here it is:
BELIEVE
That’s it.
(And it’s so serendipitous how this theme seems to be EVERYWHERE lately 😉 )
Sometimes this is the hardest part of being a writer… believing in yourself.
I know it’s something I’ve struggled with tremendously in the past year. Some days have seemed beyond bleak, and I wondered what I was trying to prove. Why I continued to tread down this path when most of the time it seemed like I was getting nowhere.
It’s not true. Every single process, every erased word, every daunting scene, every rewrite, every mistake made, every lesson learned… they move us forward.
So deep down, I know why I don’t give up… even if I forget sometimes.
I love it.
Plain and simple. It makes me feel peace in this world of chaos. All the tiny pieces of my heart and soul that are tugged in a million different directions throughout each and every day all slip back into place when I look at that page.
I feel alive.
It reminds me of who I am, of my hopes and dreams… without writing, a piece of me is missing. A part of me goes dark and hollow and I never realize what is bothering me until I pick up that pen again.
And… because I DO believe in it… more than I have anything else.
I’ve been working on this book for 3 years now. 3 YEARS. I know the exact day I started it. It’s been through several overhauls, and there are probably several more to come.
But I believe in it. I will keep believing in it. And I believe in each and every one of you. And I will keep believing in each and every one of you.
So there we have it… my resolution for this year… I’m going to believe in me and you, and all that we can do.
I wish everyone an awesome 2012… filled with oodles of agent requests and book deals and author signings. And here’s hoping… no BELIEVing… that all of our dreams come true.
Because they will, guys. They will 🙂
What are your resolutions for the new year?
find the cost of your paper

Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

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