Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat

prince-lestatIt’s been a little while since I did a book review. I’ve read several novels over the past couple months. My second son was also born and work got crazy busy with the start of the semester. But things have finally started to calm down a little and I was able to finish Anne Rice’s newest Vampire Chronicles novel, Prince Lestat.

I grew up reading the Vampire Chronicles. In fact, I believe Anne Rice’s Louis and Lestat were the first vampire novels I had the joy of reading as a kid (read as 6th grade). While it might not have been the most appropriate reading material for a 6th Grader, I enjoyed these novels so very much. The intricacy of the stories, the emotional states of the characters, the brutality with which they drank from the evildoer. All great stuff that sucked me right in.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, Prince Lestat was a little different than the other Vampire Chronicles, at least for me. It was told in this rolling, POV hopping format that was unlike the other Chronicles I had read. Of the ones I had read, they always stuck to either Louis’ or Lestat’s (Or whoever’s biography the book focused on) POV, with slight shifts every once in a while. And I never read Queen of the Damned (which I need to do now, as a lot of the info plays into this book) so it may be written in this fashion. And while it was different, it wasn’t unsettling, just worth noting.

What did take a little getting used to was that when we were in Lestat’s POV, everything was written in first person. He was telling us the story. Everyone else’s POV was written in the third person. The first time this happened, I was a little confused. But once I got used to the form, it was fine. It also helped that Rice had headed each chapter with the name of whomever’s POV we were going to be in.

This book was a little slow getting into. We are bouncing around all over, with no idea who the Voice is or what he wants, and meeting several characters we’d never even heard of before. I almost set the novel down a couple times for this reason alone. But I trusted Anne enough to pull off a great story in the end. This trust only comes from many books of successful storytelling before, a fine example for the rest of us writers. Once you have dedicated readers, you can experiment a bit more and try new things. And boy, did it all come together in the end.

I’d say I devoured the last 150-200 pages. The pacing picked up. I was once again locked into the mysterious, brooding, thoughtful immortal mindset that encapsulates these vampires, some of whom have been alive for six thousand years. And when the ending rolled around, I was left satisfied.

The resolution was a little underwhelming. I would have liked something a bit more exciting. But it wasn’t disappointing. Definitely worth a read and I will be reading her next novel, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. I’ll give it a shot.

All in all, I’d give Prince Lestat a 3/5 stars for taking me back to some of my favorite characters, but also for being a little slow to get into and having a somewhat underwhelming ending.

Writing Advice #1

I recently received an email from a Buzzfeed Article titled “33 Essential Tips for Aspiring Writers“. I found a lot of the advice to be quite good and it sparked an idea. Over the next many posts, I’d like to take a piece of advice from the Buzzfeed Article and expand on it with a bit of my own advice. Hope it helps some people out.

01. As Kandinsky says, “Everything starts with a dot.” Sometimes the hardest thing in writing a story is where to start. You don’t need to have a great idea, you just have to put pen to paper. Start with a bad idea, start with the wrong direction, start with a character you don’t like, something positive will come out of it.

-Marion Deuchars, illustrator and author of Let’s Make Some Great Art

I think this is a great piece of advice and very well placed as the first piece of advice on the page. Also, with today being Novmber 1st, it’s the beginning of NaNoWriMo and many writers are taking part in the challenge.

So many young writers that I talk to have great ideas for stories and novels but don’t know where to start. They ask me “Where would you start?”

And I find this question to be one I struggle with myself. The answer is quite clear here in this bit of advice. It doesn’t really matter where you start, as long as you do start. (Although I have a few good ideas that can get the creative juices flowing.) You can’t get any writing done until you sit your butt in your chair and start somewhere, anywhere.

A bit of life experience from my life:

When I started graduate school, I had a very vague idea of a story. But I had no idea where to start with it. So I started in the middle of a fight scene. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t able to explain everything I wanted to. The important part was that I had started. I made progress and once I started writing, there was no stopping me. Later, when I went back to do revisions, I realized where I started wasn’t really my start point but three chapters later. And that was okay, because without having started and made it all the way through the first draft was I able to see where I actually needed to start.

So, like I said, it doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you do start. In the end, that’s the most important lesson.

But, young writers do ask “Where would you start?” And I do have a bit of advice on that.

  1. Start with something that gets your blood pumping. For me, it’s a bit of action, some fight scene or point of tension. For you, it might be a bit of romance. Or a coffee shop in Paris. Whatever it might be, if it gets you pumped about writing, then that’s where you should start and remember you can always change it later. That’s the joy of writing.
  2. Start with a character sheet/POV writing. Sometimes, when starting a new project, it can be helpful just to write for a little while in the head of your POV character. Once again, it gets those creative juices flowing, gets you in the mindset of your character, and when you are ready start writing material for the story, you’ll be off and going.
  3. Outline, outline, outline. I can’t stress this enough but put some thought into an outline. It doesn’t matter if you change it later. It’s totally fine. But if you feel like you’ve got the gist of the story on paper in an outline, you’ll be more inclined to start writing it.

Those are just a few bits of advice. Any thoughts from you, readers? I’d love to hear any suggestions on where you like to start writing at.

 

You are missed

Today marks one year since loss of one of my best friends and greatest role models. One year ago today, she took her own life and forever changed so many lives. I remember with amazing clarity that day. Getting the phone call and in turn letting all of our friends now. Crying as I sat with my wife and son. Friends coming over and mourning with us.

She was one of my dearest friends in undergrad and there are few memories from those four years that don’t have her in them. She was in the crew that hung out nearly every weekend. She came to my hometown with friends during our first spring break. I talked with her on how to propose to my wife. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding. And she gave my oldest son his nickname while he was in the womb.

More importantly, she was one of my most influential role models. She was the one in the group who always had her shit together. She was the most organized and disciplined and without fail, she always had her work done when the rest of us were struggling with procrastination. There’s hardly a day that goes by when I don’t encounter some situation and ask myself “What would she do?” Or rather, now, “What would she have done?” I miss her very much, more than words can say.

There are few people I’ve met in my life who have had such a profound effect on my life. And fewer still who have earned my trust and respect to the point I’d call them a brother or sister. She was one of those people and I will never forget her.

Part of life is loss. But it’s hard to lose the people we love. I would hope to impart a message to all those people who struggle with mental health and suicidal thoughts. I strongly urge you to stop for a moment. Think of all the people you influence on a daily basis. Think of those people who love you. Even if it seems like they don’t exist, they do. You have someone who looks up to you and undoubtedly many who would miss you when you are gone. Many who would cry themselves to sleep without you around.Know that you are supported. You are loved. You would be missed and missed dearly.

I’d give nearly anything to spend time with my sister again. To laugh and joke with her. To see her smile and hear her voice giving me some piece of much needed advice at just the right time. You never know how important someone truly is until they are gone. So cherish every moment and every memory.

Rest in peace, my friend and sister.

Happy Father’s Day!!!

I vividly remember when my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our first son. I was terrified. I was just a senior in undergrad. All I knew I was doing after graduation was going to graduate school for my MFA. I had no job, no insurance, no way of supporting my family.

And to make things even more troubling, I was filled with so much self-doubt. How was I going to be a father? Did I really know enough to raise a child? Would I be a good dad?

IMG_2508Fast-forward to present day. This is my third Father’s Day and I’m  watching my son play
in the dirt outside an apartment. I’ve finished my MFA and have a steady job with full benefits. And now my wife and I are expecting our second child and I have the confidence that was missing three years ago.

I’ve realized that I am a good father because of the men who have been in my life to advise and mentor me. And this Father’s Day, I want to thank all the men who made me into the man I am today. My own father, who raised me the best he could, teaching me the difference between right and wrong. And then there’s my grandfather, who taught me how to change the oil on my car, fix a flat tire, and what it meant to be a strong, Christian man.

Finally, I want to say a special thank you to my own stepfather. He’s been a great mentor for both me and my family. Although he’s only been in our lives for a few years, he’s accepted us as his own kids and looks out for us like his own. I’m very blessed to have a two dads. So thank you not only to my own stepfather but to all the men who come into young people’s lives as stepfathers. They play a special role in our lives and we are very grateful.

I do my best to be a good father for my family. I’ve had many great examples of how to do that and with those people to call on for advice and guidance, I’m excited to bring our next son into this world and continue to strive to be the best dad I can be.

I’m Back!!!

Did you guys miss me? You know, I’ve worked at Washington University in St. Louis for three years now and I have to say, I’ve finally realized that the busiest time of the year at work is mid-April to mid-June, which is why I kind of took a hiatus from the blog. All of the planning and preparation that goes into wrapping up the year and getting students graduated or into summer programs and jobs is a little overwhelming to say the least. But that’s okay. While my maintenance of the blog may have slipped, it’s still been a rather eventful and productive couple months.

Personal Life

In personal news, my wife and I are expecting our second child in September and guess what? It’s going to be another boy! We’re super excited. Expect things to start getting a little frantic as the date draws near and in the weeks (or months) afterwards. At least I won’t be working on my masters degree at the same time. Gabriel seems to be taking the whole big brother thing pretty well too.

We also took our first real family vacation this past weekend to Branson, MO. We’ve gone and visited family before, but this was the first time it was just the three of us. We had so much fun, especially Gabriel. Those moments to spend with each other and build memories are the experiences that bring us closer together and hold us together. I look forward to the many more vacations we’re going to take in the future.

Writing

These past few months have actually been pretty good in terms of writing. I spent the month of April taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo. I can happily say that I achieved my goal of 25,000 words in one month and finished the first draft of Sentinel’s Blood (the sequel to my MFA thesis novel) in mid-May. It wasn’t easy but I started a new writing schedule which was super helpful. Stay tuned for an insider’s look at my writing schedule and process. I’m planning to start revisions on it July 1, if not sooner.

I also spent some time working on a weird western short story that I submitted to a magazine. Hoping to hear back on that sometime next month. I really enjoyed working on something different than a novel. I’ve always had trouble with short stories, but I think I could really get into them. I’ll likely try my hand at more. If nothing else, they will be good ways to cleanse my pallet between bigger projects.

Reading

I’ve actually read a three books in the past couple months, but again, not as many as I would have liked. But they were good reads. They included Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass and The Wind Through The Keyhole (This was my first time reading this one. It wasn’t too bad but definitely not my favorite in the Dark Tower Saga), and Ernest Cline’s Armada (An excellent, fun read). I’m currently reading Christopher Moore’s A Dirty Job and loving it. Expect a review soon.

 

That’s pretty much all the updates for the past couple months. Feels good to be blogging again. See everybody next week.

If there’s something you want me to read/review, discuss, or just have a general question for me, don’t hesitate to ask.