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AuthorTalk – Update 5.20

It has been said that a people without pho perish. Or was it vision? Or both? Either way, I worked all weekend on a five year plan, spending the better part of a week discussing, researching and considering life in general. It’s been a wonderful time of reflection and I am at perfect peace. Not that everything is or will be perfect, but I’m dreaming big, making goals, and I will finish the fight.

I closed out the 1st Qtr of 2020 by finishing the script for Vehemence Vol 1 and submitted it into the publisher. With the craziness going on in the world right now, I am still awaiting more definite details to flow my way. I’m proud of that story and I hope one day to share it with all of you.

I had to sort out my career and am working on starting back at school in June. With things coming together, I am finally also getting back to writing. The following projects are getting back on track:

A Grim Awakening: a steampunk epic manuscript. Still planning on finishing it this year. Likely late fall 2020.

Fallen Vol 1: is actually 2/3 written. Plan on polishing it up and concluding the first volume this year.

Eliam Vol 1: working on an outline, but I do plan on finishing the 1st volume this year.

Sugar Coated: I intend on finishing spring 2021.

Nebula Vol 1: summer 2021

Singularity: done by the end of 2021.

Other projects are at different stages. Plus I’m still working on advancing to intermediate on guitar and I have a black belt test to prepare for this year. Lastly, I’m super stoked at what the future holds. I’m excited and pumped up and ready to rock. Lots of great books to read, code to learn and skills to perfect. Once I was a jack of all trades. Now I am the master. Or something like that.

Case Study – Professional Writing

Years later, after already being lied to by financial aid, I soon discovered the head of the professional writing department resigned from his duties due to being charged with sexual assault. Apparently, this had been going on for thirty plus years, with multiple accusers, and they failed to mention it in the brochure. It makes for an intriguing conversation starter, but what exactly does professional writing look like?

First, my “writing career” has gone in variety of directions. I wrote award winning short stories while in school. I spent a decade getting articles and reviews published in over a dozen publications. I earned a bit of change as a freelance writer. I even did work as a ghost writer. I made some money, so that makes me a pro, right?

I’ve written detailed essays on retroviruses, award winning poetry, and scripts for television, commercials, game shows, graphic novels, comic strips and even an award winning indie film. On the creative side of things, I also managed to write and self-pub a novel that hit #12 on Amazon. Cool, cool.

I believe the problem with my writing career is just that: for years I played the role of professional writer. Such a generic term. Think on this. On top of everything I’ve listed, I also wrote business plans, marketing plans, press releases, training manuals, legal reports, and code for databases. In fact, I’ve now studied VBA, MySQL, HTML, JavaScript, and Python. Did I mention I’ve also written songs? And I don’t even remember the hundreds of other things I’ve tinkered with.

In one sense, it’s great that writing can be transferred to a number of incredible occupations. I’ve even done copy editing, proof reading and developmental editing. On top of video editing! Yes, the ability to communicate is an essential skill. However, did you see the problem? I sure did. I guess I had been blind to it for far too long.

Yep. Jack of all trades but master of none. Consistently distracted, continually learning, but never coming to a place of sheer satisfaction. And that’s the interesting thing about this case study. Despite the successes, all I hear is the sound of failure.

For a long time I lived life as a conquered of molehills. I hear someone exclaim, “I do sales!” So I go and spend two years, win eight awards, and master the art of sales. Then another guy shouts, “I am a graphic designer!” And I charge into battle, designing 180+ billboards. Then another guy says, “I’m a beast at customer service.” Oh yeah. Well I have six awards and a handful of employee of the year awards at various companies! And that’s how I went about life. Hilltop to hilltop. Conquest to conquest. A pile of worthless rewards and a burned out attitude lacking much passion.

Yeah, I went about writing that way too. Ghost writer, technical writer, copy writer, copy editing, proof reader, marketing, business, publication relations, coding, film, poetry, novels, manga…well, you get the picture I suspect. When you continually hop from discipline to discipline, it’s difficult to mature, to grow, to come to any sort of sophisticated level of understanding.

The haze began to clear when I finished my graphic novel script. It was the proudest I have been of my writing for years. I started to think: man, writing manga, writing novels…those are things I genuinely love. Not so much film or technical writing or any host of things I had worked on. Sure, I could do those things. But I didn’t have the passion for them like manga and novels.

Then I had a talk with a bigwig at a company. A guy who had significant military and business experience. He pointed out my main weakness, perhaps my only weakness, had always been focus. I could do anything…but I lived life like I had something to prove. And I needed to prove it to anybody and everybody. It’s true. I grew up in abusive home. I guess I always felt like the underdog in every situation. When in reality, I need to stop, consider, and focus on on the things I’m truly passionate about. Then set out to master those things.

It doesn’t mean I don’t have hobbies. Martial Arts. Guitar & Piano. Learning foreign languages and gardening. Working out. Fantasy Football. Reading. Gaming. But when it comes to passion, what four things would I narrow it down to?

Well, writing, of course, is number one. I don’t care if I’m never famous. I love it. And I want to focus on manga and novels and maybe a video game one day.

Problem solving is number two. I love investigations. I also love math and data. Teaching is number three. With critical thinking and creative freedom tied at four.

Where does that leave me? Well, I love data analytics and want to master data science. I love investigative/intelligence analyst, and want to continue to master it and possibly teach it. And if I can master the art of being an author, I believe I will accomplish a portion of what I was created to do.

To me, loving what I do will always be more important than the amount of money I make or fame I incur. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll hear those words one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Well, I can hope at least. In the meantime, here’s to being a master of a handful of skill sets as opposed to being a jack of all trades.

Creed Hits #12 in Sci-fi on Amazon!

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The first of three FREE Saturday events was a major success. I went to bed sitting at #12 in sci-fi, and I am pretty sure I broke into the top ten before the event was through. The next two Saturday events will be on October 17 and on October 31.

Also, I am working on getting a paperback version out in time for the holidays. More details coming soon.

Book Release

Today, you can find my debut novel right here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RSJPHOK. I decided to self publish it in ebook form. Here is a quick peak at the back cover:

What if one day you discovered you were not human?

David Mathis, emotionally wounded by divorce and unemployment, is burnt out and ready to pull the trigger when he is faced with the hard-hitting truth.

He is Creed 0324, one of the many genetically engineered humans created by the U.S. government. Designed to be the perfect weapon, he alone has the unique ability to absorb the physical traits of any living organism he touches. However, after flaws began to surface during
the experiment, the genetically engineered soldiers were terminated. All except one.

Suddenly, David’s life takes a drastic turn as he finds himself accused of murder and hunted by vicious hitmen. To make matters worse, his daughter has been taken hostage, and the kidnapper plays a cruel game.

Confronted by his past, David’s fabricated identity begins to unravel as he is torn between dual personas: human mind and mindless killer. Not only is his
daughter’s life at stake, but the future of an entire nation. Now he must fight for his life, his humanity, and his creed.

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A Walk Down Saint’s Row

Saint’s Row The Third is ridiculous.  It flaunts its absurdity; wearing it like a badge as opposed to shrinking from it in embarrassment.  You will find no shame here.  Volition has created an adult theme park free of restraints and begs you to not take it too seriously.  Indeed, the sheer amount of insanity becomes both its strength and its bane.

 

The fictional city of Steelport is a sweeping metropolis that begs to be explored.  Before you is an open-world sandbox that makes causing mayhem and goofing off its only real priority.  Sure, a main story can be found.  However, while is starts out decent it quickly veers off course into the realm of utter nonsense.  Solid voice acting is marred by poorly written dialogue that caters far too much to crude humor and vulgar language.

The story here could have been something special if it stuck to smartly written satire over immature rubbish.  That’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments.  Rather it’s because of those moments that I find myself cringing at the thought of what could have been.  Instead, we are left with a game sprinkled with small doses of awesome but no real substance to speak of.

Saints Row bypasses story and takeaway value for pure gameplay.  And it does manage to deliver on this end.  From gunfights and car chases, to racing through Tron-like levels and driving around menacing tigers; the variety comes in all shapes and sizes.  The controls handled nicely and I found the jam-packed soundtrack to be easy on the ears.

The visuals are nothing to write home about; which is neither good nor bad.  The level of customization is great, but the lack of polish is evident.  While the game isn’t entirely buggy, it did crash on me a few times as I worked my way through the main story.  That and the framerate takes a slight hit when too much starts to happen on the screen.

The combat is fun but can also be frustrating at times.  With weapons like a “Fart-in-the-Jar” and the “Mind-Control Octo Launcher,” you will find plenty of ways to amuse yourself.  I did accidentally shoot my allies on a few occasions.  And I can’t even begin to describe my annoyance while battling the pesky flaming zombies.

This is a game packed with plenty of different activities to engage in.  Some are a blast.  Others are boring and tedious.  Co-op is a real treat, especially when you consider the main story is awfully short for an open-world game.

Saints Row The Third is a real hit or miss for me.  On the one hand, it celebrates everything that games can do that movies, novels, television, and plays cannot.  On the other hand, it stunts its own potential with a flood of pointless obscenities and missed opportunities.  Yes there is fun here to be had.  Just be sure to proceed with caution.

Rating: 77%

Title: Saint’s Row The Third

Publisher: THQ

Developer: Volition

Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, & PS3

Style: 1-2 Players; 3rd Person Action

ESRB: M

by D.L. Timmerman

writerofthings1@gmail.com


Welcome to Arkham City

His face is bloodied and bruised.  Deep gashes cover his chest, bits of shrapnel are embedded into his thigh, and his cape is torn to shreds.  He sucks in a deep breath.  A light snow is falling as a winter storm approaches.  To his back lies theGothamCityskyline complete with towering giants, bright spotlights, and draped in yellow hues.  Police sirens shriek in the distance, but they will be of no help where he is at.

He is alone; waging an all-out war against a never ending tide of murderers, psychotics, and lunatics.  There is no law here.  It’s everybody for themselves; anarchy at its finest.  A maniacal laugh causes his head to flinch.  The time for rest is over.  Batman and the player controlling him take to the skies once more knowing that even a moment’s hesitation can mean the difference between life and death.

Welcome to ArkhamCity.  A walled-off section of Gotham transformed into a massive prison.  It is within these walls that one of the greatest Batman stories ever told transpires and is executed to near perfection.

It manages to integrate polished gameplay with a blockbuster script and the results are staggering.  From the moody atmosphere littered with detail, to the adrenaline laced combat, colorful characters, and an engrossing narrative that will stick with you long after the credits roll; Arkham City stands as a staple of how richly awarding interactive storytelling can be when you get it right.

This is not just the best licensed game ever crafted.  ArkhamCity is an instant classic; a new benchmark by which other games must now ascribe to achieve.

Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker), along with a stellar cast of voice actors, deliver powerful performances.  The musical score is solid throughout and never feels out of place.  One thing that really hit me was hearing a person crying out for help.  You race atop rooftops as the screams grow louder, pinpoint the mugging taking place in a nearby alley, and swoop down upon the unsuspecting foe, rendering him unconscious with a well-placed elbow to his face.

You are Batman.  They have managed to capture the essence of the character so well that it is mind blowing.  It is more than just beating down gangs and rescuing innocent bystanders from would-be assailants.  ArkhamCity digs deep into the psychology of what makes the man tick.  It succeeds making that connection between game and player that every novel attempts to spark between reader and characters.

There are the rare hiccups in framerate and the occasional camera glitch.  However, these annoyances are few and far between.  With a main story that’ll last you between 10-15 hours, dozens of engaging side missions, hundreds of collectables, incredible replay value, and challenge maps nailed down to an art-form; Arkham City manages to surpass its predecessor (Arkham Asylum; itself a critical darling) in every conceivable way.

Rating:  100%

Title: BatmanArkhamCity

Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive

Developer: Rocksteady Studios

Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Style: 1 Player, 3rd Person Action

ESRB: T (mild language, violence)

by D.L. Timmerman

writerofthings1@gmail.com