October Giveaway

by on September 30th, 2015

NaNoWriMo is coming!

NaNoWriMo_Is_Coming

With NaNoWriMo on the horizon, I thought it’d be interesting to hold a mini giveaway to help us prepare. While there are those that look forward to the write-a-thon that is November, I’ve cringed and shied away from it. I could never do it. No matter how many times I tried in the past, I always came up short. Sure, I’d keep strong for the first week, but then after that it all goes down hill. My ego is easily bruised when it comes to getting the words on paper, adding NaNoWriMo into the mix was just adding more water to my already sinking ship.

So, I tip my hat to those that dash into that mighty fray. In the spirit of all things “writerly” I’m giving away a few things: a Rory’s Story Cubes set, a 300 Writing Prompts book, and a vintage leather journal.

Just enter the Rafflecopter below. Winner will be announced November 1st, 2015!

This giveaway is in conjunction with my Branli Caidryn site.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Must be 18yrs or older to enter. Open to all residents in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. Void where prohibited. No substitutions. 

Getting Ready

by on September 27th, 2015

It’s been a very busy past few months. Between work, work travel, and life in general, unfortunately my writing has fallen to the wayside.

As things have settled I’ve gone back to finishing the next short story in The Envoy series. I have five short stories planned so far. They’ll all be released individually as ebooks, though eventually I plan to have them in an anthology paperback edition.

Apart from the series, there’s also a novel I’ve been planning for release next year. Here’s to hoping I get it all done in time!

Oh, and one final thing. I’ve signed up for Authorgraph so I can digitally sign all my ebooks. Check it out!
Get your e-book signed by J.S. d'Raven

Kill Your Darlings

by on March 30th, 2015

“In writing, you must kill your darlings.”

It is literary advice meaning a writer must let go of their self-indulgent, and often favorite passages, in their work for the sake of quality. It doesn’t matter how much a writer likes a particular scene, character, or dialogue. It must go in the name of consistency, prose, pace, and so on.

A couple of entries back I wrote about how there’s a super hero trend in society’s entertainment. It’s charming in its simplicity–nostalgic even, for its return to innocence and a generation’s childhood memories. I commented on how I believe it’s humanity’s cry out in the dark, asking to be saved, asking for a hero to appear.

I still believe that.

And yet, I was talking to a friend of mine and admitted that I couldn’t wait for the next phase.

Anti-heroes.

For as much as we love to lift someone (or some thing) to glorify to near apotheosis, we’re conniving and fickle. Dare I say, some of us enjoy the descent and ultimate demise of someone held on high. Why? We love the struggle, the strife, to witness someone dig themselves out of impossible odds. Is this why we tear someone down? Does exposing some fallible quality in our heroes humanize them and therefore a reflection upon us that we’re no different? Or, does the stark contrast in the righteous expose our blemishes and shame us until we sully the heroes to make them equal?

I’m convinced it’s somewhere in between. I often compare this struggle and pattern with Japanese Kintsugi–the art of repairing pottery with gold. In philosophical terms, the cracks in the pottery are just part of the history and not to be abhorred.

This is why I think anti-heroes are next. It’s a pattern. It’s in our nature. These sort of stories repeat themselves. Biblical, Roman, or Greek, they all follow a pattern. A hero or god rises, and we tear them down. We watch them fall.

What’s the end game here? Why must we kill our darlings? The answer feels just out of reach.

Icarus Mourned

Wide Availability/Release

by on July 7th, 2014

Just a quick post announcing the wide availability and release (beyond Amazon) of The Envoy’s Interlude, my first short. It’s available in digital format at most online retailers.

EbookStores

Also, I’ve been working on something new–experimenting with something called Booktrack. I’m looking for feedback. Check it out.

 

We Need A Hero.

by on May 2nd, 2014

Television, film, books–really all human entertainment has been a form of escapism. It’s what it comes down to. And we all knew this. It’s why we go to the movies, why we fall in love with television and romanticize to the point of wild fandom. We want that escape and the reason for that escape can say a lot about us.

Call it cultural tracking, but if you examine the overall theme of a culture’s entertainment you come out with their collective mental state. It’s the cultural sigh, be it of elation or desperation.

With the recent rise of super hero (Captain America, X-Men, The Avengers, Batman, etc) and fairy tale (Maleficent, Snow White and the Huntsman, Mirror Mirror, etc) movies, I can’t help but analyze and dissect. What is this return to innocence? What super hero are we hoping will come save us and provide our happily ever after?

You go back to the 60’s and 70’s and immediately get a sense of the space race with Star Trek, Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and many many more. The theme in entertainment was space exploration and it was in full force.

A documentary a while back analyzed the reason why we love superheroes so much. As they studied the very first superhero, Superman, they cover the many versions from film directors to comic book authors. In the end they conclude that he is the embodiment of what we all hope to be; stand for justice and truth. I wish I could remember the name of the documentary but I found a TIME article that wrapped things up nicely. (You can find it here).

As these superhero movies began to pop up I couldn’t help but tell myself, “It’s like we’re all crying out, collectively, asking to be saved.” Which led to what I suspected would be the next phase, Biblical movies.

Some say it’s a call out in the dark, and the atheist in me can’t help but answer this call with, “We’re all we’ve got.” And that’s not such a terrible thing. The pragmatic brain says we’re all responsible for our own misery and therefore within reach of real solutions.

To play devil’s advocate (there’s a pun somewhere here), one can argue that God Himself bestowed upon us the wisdom to do better, to right the wrong. So really, it still comes down to “We’re all we’ve got.”

And yet, either scenario can benefit from a hero.

Do You Know Who You Are?

by on April 3rd, 2014

Do you know who you are? Do you know what has happened to you?

The two questions seem rather inconsequential and irrelevant, without context. I mean, of course you know who you are. And of course you’d know what happened to you, right?

Memory recall, unfortunately and as I’m sure we all know, isn’t reliable. And although eyewitness testimony is admissible in court as evidence, it’s typically a means to gather more evidence; line-ups, warrants, subpoenas, questioning, etc.

The frightening reality of it all comes down to memory itself and how it works. Some findings by those incredible folks at MIT reveal that the mechanics of memory recall for false and real memories are the same. That is, your brain files/stores false memories the same way it would a real one.

The scientists went further into how memories worked, including creating new ones for lab mice. You should really check out the study.

This all got me thinking though. Are any of my memories real? Am I really me? Did my childhood ever happen? Did yesterday happen? Did today happen?

I mean, the questions were inevitable, really. When research like this comes out and tells you memories can be falsified, you can’t help but question. Of course, the writer side of me also runs wild with ideas. It also reminded me of some of Philip K. Dick’s work. A lot of his work centers around altered states of mind; A Scanner Darkly, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, and my favorite, Paycheck.

Although much of the research at MIT is centered around the creation and retrieval of memories, my mind questioned the ‘why’ behind it. More specifically, why would someone want to create false memories? And, would someone want to replace real memories with false ones? If so, why?

That’s sort of what led me to The Envoy’s Interlude, my upcoming short story. Granted, it was a small spark, but nonetheless it got my mind thinking. What I’ve come up with is a story about truth and our desire to obtain it. With this desire comes the journey, and the lengths and sacrifices we’re willing to take to get there. After all, in the end, it’s these truths and these memories of our past that define us.

So, I ask one more question.

Do you know why you’re here?

Something New

by on March 25th, 2014

For the past few months I’ve been working on a project–my first published work. When I set off to start this project, I knew from the very start that it would be something different. That is, different from the first/core pieces of work I intended to write. This debut piece is dark and perhaps not for every pallet. And yet, there’s something at the heart of these ‘darker stories’ that somehow feels more genuine–a more accurate representation of myself. A part of me fears what this says about me, but still, I can’t stop myself from writing these words and creating these worlds.

This piece is my tease. It’s meant to leave a few things open, it’s meant to make you think. I’m honestly not sure how this will be received but well, here’s to something new.

Do You Realize?

by on January 1st, 2014

Summer Field

Happy 2014!

As I hit a major milestone in my age, I start looking back on all the missed opportunities and hope that my future is better. With that, comes a desire to plan and really strive to keep to my goals. A part of me feels it’s too late, and yet another part of me is upset over the time already lost. Ah, to be on the fence, to be on the cusp of this milestone.

I’m not religious–in fact i’m an atheist–but I can’t help and think of a passage in the bible where it compares mankind’s life to grass or a flower (Psalm 103:15)). It wilts, it withers and dies soon after it hits its wonderful peak of beauty. We have so little time and we either waste it on meaningless endeavors with no long-term benefits, or spend it looking back chastising ourselves for time lost.

I’d like to say that this year will be different–unlike all the other past years and their “New Year’s Resolutions.” Perhaps my next decade of goals will wither away and become part of those statistics of abandoned resolutions. I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m glad for what I’ve been able to accomplish thus far. I’m grateful for the life experiences and particularly the struggles that have helped me grow. Though, I seriously hope I’m on the out, and halfway through this forest of struggles.

All these thoughts also come about after watching a video called The Existential Bummer. Jason Sislva (the narrator) goes on to describe the feeling of sadness when you’re in love, to understand it’s transience–that one day it’ll be gone. This also reminds me of a popular song by The Flaming Lips “Do You Realize?”

Do you realize that happiness makes you cry…

Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die….

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes
Let them know you realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun don’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning ’round

There’s beauty in the transience. There’s beauty in appreciating the short lived beauty and its imperfection. And perhaps, with all this mind, I can set off to enjoying life a little bit more.

httpv://youtu.be/Yb-OYmHVchQ

There Is Magic In The Writing.

by on November 29th, 2013

Shall I entertain bore you with my journey on getting my first novel out? I’ll spare you (and you can thank @JeffeKennedy for that). But, I do plan on writing down some of the random musings I ensnare myself with. So, let’s get the tasty bits out of the way and entice you with what I have to offer…

Call me an escapist, but writing has always been a way to escape the mundane day-to-day that is life. The sad thing though, is that my form of escape isn’t to some far off fantasy or paradise. Nor, is it your typical adventures of some hero or underdog overcoming impossible odds. Strangely, it’s in the writing that lifts the veil and uncovers the deep dirty secrets about the human psyche. A lot of the Western world is used to the popular and even Hollywood-ized (?) storytelling that wraps things up nicely and gives you your happy ending. Emotional masochist? Perhaps. Though, I find a certain enchantment in the vulnerability and exposé of human nature. Yes, it can be a dark place. And yet, I’m daringly optimistic that there’s beauty in the naked truth.

I certainly don’t mean to cast a dark shadow over it all. In fact, I think it challenges me to find the beauty. Some of the best stories have haunted me with their tragic endings–sometimes hungover on romantic musings. There is beauty in the loss of a flower, if only to appreciate its short lifespan. There is beauty in life, also if only to appreciate our limited time. So, I dare challenge you to find the beauty.

Unfinished Wonderland