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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Post-Christmas greetings, Bearers!

I hope and trust that your Christmas time went as well as mine.  The family and I spent a little time outside of home, attending the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl in Detroit, where we were split down the middle as to which team to side with (I and my father-in-law chose Western Michigan; the wife and son picked Purdue.  I’m still wiping the egg off my face…).  That time capped off probably one of the best Christmases I’ve had in quite some time.  Not that past Christmases have been terrible or anything, mind you.  But this particular one will stick out as a pleasant memory that, like a fine wine, will be good to visit in the cellar of my mind and sip from memory, as it will be as sweet in my old age as it is now in my not-so-youthful youth.

And speaking of fleeting youth… hard to believe that New Year’s will be upon us next Sunday!  As I will be via slaving around the house and attempting to find time to write (I got a whole forty minutes yesterday!), I want to take the time to wish all of you a VERY happy new year, with the best of what’s in store for 2012.  For me, it’ll be getting The Summoning of Kran finished up and ready for you to enjoy, as well as (hopefully soon) wrapping up the loose ends on Alternate Endings so that you’ll have my first real short story collection in your hands.

Remember something else too: every year brings good things, even if we don’t see those things right away, so if your year isn’t looking to be so bright right away, give it time.  More often than not, we get so overwhelmed and preoccupied with things that don’t go our way, and miss out on a multitude of things that do go our way.  Take the time to look for the good things, even when they might not be so obvious at first.

And no, the world is not going to end in 2012.  At least, the world I know won’t end 😀

There is still time for those of you who are new to the Ebook world to take advantage of my BOGO offer.  Don’t forget to drop me a line in order to get the coupon!  And for those who have recently joined the world of the Vein, I bring you welcome, and sincerely thank you for venturing out with the rest of us!  I promise you a wild ride that you won’t soon forget!

And, finally, if you’re a Dr. Who fan, enjoy THIS little clip.

Okay, time to work, write, and sneak more chocolate.

See you in the Vein!
J.Dean

Late night Greetings, Bearers!

As an early Christmas present to you, it is my pleasure to introduce guest blogger Eric Zawadzki of Four Moons Press for this entry.  I trust you’ll find his words thought-provoking and challenging, as I did.     -J. Dean

 
On Reading Twilight

I first off want to thank J. Dean for hosting us on his blog and for posting on ours. On Christmas Eve, no less. Man, are we ever hard core! Okay, so we’re actually writing this a couple days before all the holiday festivities, which is good because my weekend is packed.

Today I’d like to talk a little bit about reading and criticism. I ran into a forum thread recently in which some teenage girl was looking for reader opinions of Twilight, because she had really enjoyed the movies and was thinking of reading the books. You can probably guess the reception she received. Twilight is badly written. Twilight is anti-feminist. Twilight is proof that the publishers need to have their car keys taken away before they ruin books forever. Boo! Hiss!

Look. I haven’t read these books. I probably never will – not because I have some kneejerk reaction to them but because I’m not particularly interested in the paranormal romance genre and I know I’m not the target audience. I’ll admit, I can enjoy the jokes about sparkly vampires, but I can also enjoy jokes at the expense of public figures I’ve never met if they’re funny. Or honey badgers. I’m a creature of the Internet. Memes are fun.

Incidentally, reading should be too.

Here in this age of bemoaning children who would rather text or play video games than read books or play outside, we have adults actively ridiculing young people for the books they choose to read. What are you doing?!? Would you ridicule a toddler for asking you to read Goodnight Moon or Hop on Pop to her just because it isn’t as deep as Wuthering Heights or Beloved? How can we possibly expect children to read for pleasure if we dictate to them what is and isn’t acceptable reading material?

No one learns to love reading by being forced to read books they don’t enjoy. I grew up reading formulaic tripe like the Tom Swift books. Twenty plus years later I can see how formulaic they were and laugh at the idea of the Swifty in dialogue. When I was ten or twelve, though, I was fascinated by the neat new inventions and how they changed the way the world worked in dramatic ways. That was science fiction. My tastes would change and become more nuanced in later years, but first I had to have a good reason to make reading a habit and not something I did because my teachers required it.

This goes for adults, too. It doesn’t matter who or what you read, someone out there will hate it or dismiss it as inferior. If it was self-published, someone will assume it’s badly edited and not good enough to be picked up by a major publisher. If it is light and fun, someone will insist that the author is a hack. If it is fantasy or science fiction? Don’t even get me started. Suffice to say that when I was an undergrad, many M.F.A. applications specifically stated they would not consider any applicant who submitted genre fiction as a writing sample, especially fantasy and sci-fi. If it’s Dickens, someone will complain that he isn’t Shakespeare. If it’s Shakespeare, someone will judge you for liking a play they consider his worst work.

You can’t win this game, so you might as well read what you enjoy.

Nor should you feel like you have to like just one genre or one kind of book. Ray Bradbury famously said a writer should make himself a compost heap, and I’d say that applies to readers, as well. Read the serious books and the silly books, the important books and the frivolous books. Choose them to suit your current mood and enjoy them on their own merits. I’m a big proponent of occasionally pushing out beyond one’s comfort zone, but I only read maybe one work of literary fiction and half a dozen pieces of literature per year. Again, reading should be fun first and edifying, um, a little lower down on the list.

There are books I loved twenty years ago that I have no interest in rereading and books I loathed in high school that I have since come to cherish upon revisiting them. I have had books radically alter my perceptions and crystalize my philosophy. Some of those seem rather silly, now, but at the time they were startling revelations placed in my path at exactly the right time. This is perfectly normal. Sometimes when we read a book is even more important than what we read.

It’s okay to hate something about a book or series you love. When I was in college, some people seemed to have this curious notion that because I was studying English literature, I liked every book I read. My response to this (after the wild laughter, of course) is that no one can hate a book like an English major can. The same goes for any writer, especially one who writes in the same genre. It doesn’t mean we hate the book or the author or the genre. On the contrary (and this may seem a bit oxymoronic), it is quite often the way we express our love of them.

Every author and every book has flaws. Matt and I often make fun of Robert Jordan’s quirks even though (and quite honestly because) he was a huge influence on us as young writers. I can point out the shortage of female characters in Lord of the Rings and still love Tolkien. I can say that the first book of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Sharing Knife series is really not what I’m looking for in my fantasy and still rave about Paladin of Souls (one of the few fantasy novels I’ve read with a middle aged, female protagonist).

Finally, it’s okay for someone else to have different tastes. It doesn’t make them inferior or less refined. Not everyone will “graduate” to reading the kinds of books you like. Some will stick to familiar genres. Some will branch out wildly. Most will be somewhere in between. The choice isn’t yours or mine to make for others.

We can recommend. We can discuss. We can stick our favorite books in their stockings. But we can’t make them read any of them.

We can certainly increase the likelihood that a young person will never read our favorite books, though. All we have to do is shame her out of reading the ones she enjoys. TV and video games will be happy to fill that void you had hoped reading would occupy.

Woo-Hoo, Bearers!!!

I’m writing to you at home from my brand new, very own IMac, courtesy of Mrs. J. Dean!  She comes to me the other day and says, “Hey, honey, would you like to open your Christmas present early?”

I said “YEEESSSSSSS!!!

(For those of you who don’t know, I’m the kind of fellow who snoops around the house for my presents.  Doesn’t spoil my Christmas at all!)

So, she gives me the present, and now I have the immense pleasure of writing to you from this massive screen that looks more like an HDTV than a computer!  This thing is awesome, and I’ve barely scratched the surface on all of the bells and whistles it has.  I was quite happy.  Still am.  This must be what Ralphie felt like when he opened up that last present hidden behind the bureau and got his Red Rider BB gun.  Of course, I can’t shoot anything with the iMac; I’ve got other tools for that 😉

So anyway, I’m writing to you from home now.  No more waiting around when I want to blog and give you guys news.  And right now, the news is good: I’m making progress on The Summoning of Kran and hope to get it finished over this Christmas and New Year’s break.  Also, I hope to hear from my book cover person and see a draft of the cover soon, meaning you’ll get to see it as well.

And, most importantly, the Christmas shopping is done!  Can I hear a “Hoo-Hah!”?

So for those of you not finished with your shopping, shop on!  Keep my books in mind as a present, too, especially as a download for anybody getting an Ereader or tablet as a gift.  It would make a nice surprise for the recipient, don’t you think? 😀

And before I go, remember the Reason for Christmas.  Here’s a LINK for some music to remind us all!

Merry Christmas!  I’ll be contacting y’all again next week!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

Your forgetful author forgot to leave his Email address for you!  That’s what happens when you don’t get enough coffee!

So HERE is the place that gives my address.  Remember: send your E-receipt along in order to get the free coupon for The Summoning of Old Velt!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers and soon-to-be Bearers!

Ah, Christmas… one of my favorite times of the year.  Well, except for the snow, that is.  I have to tell you, if you’ve never spent a Christmas in Hawaii, you need to do so.  Best thing in the world, going to the beach on Christmas day, walking around in eighty degree weather, and seeing Santa on a sleigh pulled by eight dolphins!  Nothing like it. 

And this brings me to my second favorite part of Christmas (the first being Christ): giving gifts!  🙂

With this Christmas, I’d like to make a special offer for those of you who have not yet purchased The Summoning of Clade Josso on Smashwords.  Purchase Clade Josso anytime on Smashwords between now and December 31st, and then send me a personal message through this site or Via Email including a copy of your Smashwords receipt, and I will send you a coupon to download The Summoning of Old Velt Ebook for free!  This BOGO is a great way for you to take your first steps into the world of the Vein if you have not done so, and if you already have, feel free to pass on this special offer to others!

Well, back to the grind and spreading myself thin.  I’m past three hundred pages on The Summoning of Kran and am still going strong, and I’m also prepping the Vein omnibus (which is a lot of work, but also a blast to do).  In addition, the cover for Alternate Endings   will soon be on its way.  Maybe it’ll show up as a Christmas present for both me and you guys!  

And once again, a hearty shout-out to you newcomers in the Vein!  I don’t take my readers for granted; you’re a special group of people for taking a chance on me.  Thank you SO much!

See you in the Vein, and 16 days to Christmas!

J. Dean