I wrote my series for teenagers because I see a hole in the market for good, powerful adventures aimed at young men and women. To me, most young adult lit is either hackneyed garbage or dumbed down drivel. I wanted to give them characters who are real, strong, vulnerable, self-sufficient, flawed people. I wanted to give them compelling role models because they need real guidance in these messed up days.
Religion, for the most part, has failed them, focusing more on gay-bashing and hate-mongering than on spiritually uplifting them. The church offers few realistic answers in this digital age, so I created a world devoid of any religious reference.
Our educational system has failed them, churning out multiple test drones instead of thinking adults, so I gave them a series that shows shades of gray instead of black and white. I want people to think for themselves, not blindly follow what Fox News blathers.
If you’re looking for a summer reading list, check out The Brotherhood of Dwarves, a powerful saga about regular people standing up to tyranny and overcoming greed and materialism. There’s no profanity, no sex, no religion. Just good, fast-paced action about people standing on their own two feet. Join the Brotherhood today.
I’m sorry I haven’t posted more on here recently. I’m feeling tired and beat up and old from the semester, and for the last few months, there’s been virtually no peace in my life. I don’t want to share those details publicly, but hopefully, the situation is now resolved. Hopefully, that’s all in the past.
I’m tired. Deep in the bones, worn to a nub, dragging in the dirt tired. Between teaching, enduring sleep apnea, dealing with horse crap, and feeling torn in fifty directions at once, I don’t have much left in the tank. I need to regroup, re-assess my priorities, and recuperate. Not sure when I’ll write another blog entry.
If I’m not around, please know that I’m trying to pick myself back up and move forward. I’m trying to get to work on book five. I’m trying to press on. Please, have a little more patience with me.
I’m trying to remain positive, trying to find optimism, trying not to succumb to the mounting frustration that gnaws at me every day. But it’s not easy. When cat memes go viral, when horrifically written novels sell millions of copies, when shoddy journalism prevails, when everything that garners national publicity seems substandard, it’s hard not to allow the negative to overwhelm my consciousness. When students day after day show less and less regard for knowledge, less and less concern for their own abilities, less and less connection to the world outside their smart phones, less and less ability to do for themselves, it’s hard not to hate what’s been done to education. But I’m trying.
Those of you who haven’t spent decades of your life studying a craft, pouring everything you have into creating something, and struggling for years just to get noticed, can’t possibly fathom how much it stings to watch steaming piles of manure rake in millions of dollars. It’s not that I write for the money. I don’t. I write because that’s who I am, and I’m pretty damned good at it, too. But the simple reality of this world is that we need money to survive, and not being able to break through that barrier of earning a living by my craft grates on me every moment of every day, especially when I see so much mediocrity succeeding in so many venues. I don’t want to grow cold and bitter, but it’s not easy.
Those of you who haven’t stood in front of a room of students and tried to share knowledge with them, can’t fathom how frustrating it is to watch them text and tweet or stare into the distance with slack-jawed apathy. You can’t understand how hard it is to find the motivation to continue when instead of blaming the students for being lazy, disconnected, and stupid, administration blames teachers for not “engaging” them properly. You can’t fathom how hard it is to squelch the scream building in the pit of my stomach as I want to grab them by the shoulders, shake the hell out of them, and wake them from whatever zombie-robot-drone slumber they’re gripped by. I don’t want to lose hope for the future, but it’s not easy.
Those of you who haven’t been shackled by the modern indentured servitude of child support can’t fathom how maddening it is to work 60 hours a week and barely keep enough of your earnings to survive. And no matter how much you loathe your job you can’t just walk away because the system has the authority to jail you and revoke your driving privileges and label you a deadbeat dad for missing those payments. If you haven’t been through it, you can’t comprehend the prison that creates, feeling tethered to a job in an economy with little opportunity for change by fear of contempt of court. I don’t want to live my life angry and spiteful, but it’s not easy.
I want to be an upbeat, positive person. I want to greet each day as a new opportunity for growth and renewal, but it’s hard to find positive day in and day out. I want to believe that my life hasn’t been futile, but sitting here mired in obscurity while my country devolves into the New Dark Ages, it’s difficult not to feel as if all the career choices I’ve made are wrong. I feel obsolete, small, and insignificant. I feel trapped in a system that punishes hard work and rewards sloth. I want to believe that tomorrow is a new day and that better times await, but everything tangible in my life points in a different direction. I want to find the motivation to trudge forward and press on, and it’s not easy. But I’m trying.
Here is the official press release from Seventh Star Press:
For Immediate Release
April 22, 2013
Seventh Star Press is proud to announce that Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy is now available in eBook format, with print availability in trade paperback on Wednesday. Featuring contributions from a sensational list of writers such as Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Kevin J. Anderson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harry Turtledove, Joe Haldeman, and many other top names in genre fiction, Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy is a highly valuable contribution to the speculative fiction community developed by Bram Stoker Award-winning editor Michael Knost.
Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy is a collection of essays and interviews by and with many of the movers-and-shakers in the industry. Each contributor covers the specific element of craft he or she excels in. Expect to find varying perspectives and viewpoints, which is why the reader will find many find differing opinions on any particular subject. It is a book with something to offer all levels of writers, from those seeking to get published for the first time to others who have numerous releases to their credit.
Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy features essays and interviews with:
Orson Scott Card
Ursula K. Le Guin
Alan Dean Foster
Kevin J. Anderson
James Patrick Kelly
Gordon Van Gelder
John Joseph Adams
Lucy A. Snyder
Nayad A. Monroe
G. Cameron Fuller
This edition also features several original illustrations from award-winning artists Matthew Perry and Bonnie Wasson. In addition to their own illustrations, a special collaborative piece created by the two artists is featured in the book.
Available by mid-week in trade paperback format,Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy is now available in eBook format for the Kindle and Nook at the following links for just $4.99
For further updates and information about Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy, please visit the Seventh Star Press site at: www.seventhstarpress.com
Contact: C.C. James
Public Relations, Seventh Star Press
ccjames (at) seventhstarpress.com
Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky
Only someone who has been torn down to nothing can fully appreciate getting back up and pressing onward. Only someone who has been wounded to the core of their being can understand the slow process of healing. People who have been through desperate trials and have come through the other side possess a wisdom and regard for life that fills us with soft light. We often recognize each other with little more than a glance and subtle nod. I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill heartache or grief. Everyone goes through that stuff, and while it usually grows and matures the individual, it rarely fills them with the soft light. For it, I’m talking specifically about the people who have been through overwhelming grief, complete loss of self, or a literal near death experience. Those of us who have been through those fires and come out reforged as better human beings understand and relish life differently from most. Today, I’m asking my friends and readers who have been through those difficulties to step forward and help our country heal.
America is wounded right now, not just from the attack in Boston but from decades of political divisiveness and economic stagnation. As a nation, we are hurt and angry and on the verge of a complete breakdown. Our so-called leaders have failed us, concerning themselves more with special interests for the few than the well-being of the many. The church has failed us, focusing more on homosexuality than the care of the needy. Corporations have failed us, attending more to short-term profits than long-term sustainability. We as American citizens cannot count on these entities to help us rekindle and heal the American spirit. That onus falls to us as individuals, especially those of us who have survived real ordeals. We must reach out to each other on a personal level and communicate as individual human beings.
I ask each of you who understands what I’m talking about to reach out to someone in your community who opposes your viewpoint and have a real conversation with them. Not a political shouting match but a basic conversation about their children or grandchildren or jobs or dreams. Don’t push your ideology on them. Just listen. Share a story from your life. Those of us who have been through real ordeals can do a lot to help heal our communities by reaching out to those around us because we understand that healing doesn’t come from external sources. It comes from the inside, and the only way we will heal as a nation is on a grassroots level. It must begin with individuals.
Whatever darkness we now face, we can overcome it. People have faced much worse in the past. Whatever fractures in our society can be mended if enough individuals reach out to each other and find common ground. There may be difficult times ahead, but the basic human desire for individual freedom is still alive. The Civil Rights movement taught us that kindness and compassion can be contagious and are the best weapons against darkness and anger. Those of us who are filled with the soft light already know this, and it is our time to push back against the forces that want to rob us of our liberties and drown us in fear. Those of us who still believe in the promise of America must come together, regardless of political ideology, and help each other heal. The soft light is a powerful force. If you have it, now is the hour to let it shine.
I’m just a small voice from a small corner of a rural part of this big nation. I have no delusions that my opinion carries much impact or will be noticed by more than a handful of people. But a part of me hopes that somehow this message will reach the eyes of the person or people who planted those bombs yesterday.
You may believe you are carrying out some grand scheme designed to cripple my country, but you are simply a coward. You may believe that we will fall to our knees and quiver before your cause, but we won’t. I don’t care who you are or what purpose you had for this attack on unarmed civilians. Your plan has already failed. Sure, you may have taken lives and bloodied bodies, and we will mourn for those who died and cry with those who lost arms and legs, but we will not cower before you. Your plan failed because you don’t understand the human spirit, the American spirit, and certainly not the Boston spirit. You will be surprised by our response.
Since you don’t seem to grasp our spirit, let me explain it to you as best I can. In this nation, despite our fractured politics and very real problems we now face, we are a people bound by a sense of optimism. Nearly everyone who came to these lands did so to escape some form of tyranny, and we still carry the imprint left behind by our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents that America symbolizes something important. Our forerunners often faced situations far more dire and sinister than anything we face today, and if they can overcome the darkness they endured to reach this country and build better lives for their children, we can overcome the darkness of today. Their spirit lingers in us, whispers to us in our times of need, reminds us that liberty matters.
Sure, we quibble and disagree with each other, sometimes to an obnoxious level. Sure, we often appear disjointed and chaotic, but one thing I know about my country is that in our darkest moments, we pull together. It’s happened so many times I won’t bother recounting them to you, but yesterday is as good an example as any. Despite the fear, despite the chaos, despite the uncertainty, people helped each other. People, some first responders, others civilians, helped the wounded, carrying them to ambulances and getting them to safety. Many rushed to the hospitals to donate blood. That is America, and you will not change us.
America is not a land of laws, despite the beauty and precision of our Constitution. It’s the spirit behind that Constitution that makes us who we are. We are not a land of blind allegiance to one person or one way, no matter how our politics looks sometimes. In America, we are a people of courage, love, and compassion because nearly all of us are just a generation or two removed from famine, persecution, and tyranny. In our hearts we know, you might break our bodies but you will never break that spirit because it is the natural wellspring of humanity, the desire to live free. Whoever you are and whatever your plan, you will never extinguish that desire. Your cowardice will be rooted out, exposed to the world, and punished accordingly. Your failed ideology will wilt under the shining beacon of liberty that illuminates the souls of my fellow citizens. We will not quiver before cowards. We will stand tall, bind together, and build a better future for ourselves. We will do so because this country symbolizes something more than you will ever comprehend and because we are a stronger people than you will ever understand. We are the sons and daughters of freedom.
I must admit that when I was offered this book to review I was only too glad to accept. You see, I have this thing about dwarves in fantasy. I really don’t care if the races: orcs, goblins elves and all the others are the same as they are in every other fantasy, it’s what the author does with them that matters. It is in this area that D.A. Adams pulls off a great character driven story. There’s no ground breaking, genre shattering new ideas just a well-rounded story that leaves you wanting to read more.
The lead character, Roskin, though of noble descent sets out on a gap year to find a fabled statue, so it’s a quest. There are only so many basic story types and this is one of the simplest – so get used to the idea. Too many people are quick to tear new authors apart for their lack of originality, well it was once written ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ and that was over 3000 years ago. With that settled I’ll get back to the story, or will I. You see, I’m not one for giving the story away, after all I’ll see it differently to you as much as you will the next person. So instead, I’ll just say that I found it to be a commendable first novel. The story moves along at a good pace, is filled with background history that adds richness and depth to story, and gives something to set future stories against. It was long enough to enjoy without ever becoming a hard slog. More words do not make a better story.
I’ll round things off by simply saying that I will go on to read the others in the series in the simple hope that they are at least as enjoyable as this one. Most writers improve with practice, I can only hope that D.A Adams does, that way I will have even better stories to look forward to.
I will be hosting an interview with the author on 12th March 2013 on my website www.theonesaga.com
To see the original review, please follow this link: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/529258550
I don’t know if I can find the proper words to describe what’s happened to education, but every single day the system gets a little worse. The bureaucrats have transposed manufacturing principles onto instruction, expecting to increase productivity by implementing lean production measures. But teaching a human being how to read, write, calculate, and think is not the same process as bolting together two components. Everyone learns a little differently, and skilled teachers adapt their methods to individuals. Today, the bureaucrats want a one-size-fits-all homogeneous model that only skims rote memory. It cannot and will not produce practical application of skills.
For most of us who teach, morale has never been lower. We are grossly overworked, grossly underpaid, and grossly frustrated by political forces that on one hand blame us for the failures of their system while on the other accuse us of causing economic turmoil with our luxurious pay and benefits. Most of us are quite literally at our breaking points, emotionally and financially. We have been placed in an impossible situation, asked to do an impossible job, stripped of nearly all authority, and then blamed for poor student performance. Meanwhile, we’re competing for the students’ attention with Twitter and YouTube. It’s nearly impossible to pry them away from their smartphones and laptops, but then, we’re blamed for not “engaging” them properly.
Our only hope for fixing this situation is for enough people to come forward and demand change. We need lower student-teacher ratios, higher pay, less standardized testing, more focus on application, less bureaucracy, and more autonomy in the classroom. We have to shift accountability back onto the students themselves. We have to halt this trend towards homogeneous curriculum and focus on personalized instruction that fosters skills application. We have to find some way to teach the next generation that not everything is supposed to be entertaining, and instead of catering to their deficits by adding flashing lights and buzzers to curriculum, teach them how to focus for more than thirty seconds. I say the next generation because I’m afraid this one is already damaged beyond repair.
Please, heed my warning: This country is about to lose an entire generation of educators. Once we are gone, whether it be from burnout, breakdown, or disgust, a wealth of knowledge will be lost from the system. Once we are gone, I fear what the system will become and what it will produce. Once thing I see for certain, we as a country are losing our ability to compete with other developed nations. We are falling woefully behind and more closely resemble a developing or third world country than the greatest nation on the planet.
This was a fun fantasy story that focused mostly on dwarves, and specifically on Roskin. He is on a year long adventure in the outside world prior to taking on his role as the next ruler of the Kiredurk nation. He has decided to set himself a goal to obtain a lost dwarven piece of art called the brotherhood of dwarves, thinking it will bring him recognition and adventure. But the journey isn’t easy, and he encounters many setbacks along the way.
While I enjoyed the premise of the story, I found the execution a little rough in the beginning. The story starts with an encyclopedia-like description of dwarves, and the various dwarf nations and histories. It then had an overview of Roskin and his life and only really became a true story after Roskin left his home. Prior to that, and even at points after, it felt like I was being told about the story instead of experiencing it first hand.
I found the story picked up the further into it I got, especially the ending scenes. I felt those scenes and wished the rest of the book had the same level of reader involvement and interaction.
While Roskin was the main character, I felt that Crushaw was a much stronger, well-developed character. He stood out as flawed and realistic, and his story was quite touching. By comparison, Roskin felt wishy-washy and under developed. When I look back over the descriptions from the beginning of the story to his actions at the end, it doesn’t feel like the same character, and not just in a growth sort of way, it’s more a fundmental change.
Overall, this was a quick pure fantasy, quest-style story that is worth reading, once you get past the info dump in the beginning. I would guess that based on the quality of the story in the later part of the book that subsequent volumes in the series will be better executed than this one, and will make reading this one worth it.
To see the original review, please visit: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/524534843
Brotherhood is about Roskin, a prince and heir to the throne but his mother was his father’s first wife, a wild elf making Roskin heir, but different than everyone else. He has always felt his difference and when he is told he gets a year of travel as a poor shlub before ruling, he decides to start a fairly uninformed, half-formulated quest to retrieve a statue called the Brotherhood of Dwarves from a fortified castle in a neighboring kingdom. His plan is to convince an aged, retired general to help him.
As soon as Roskin no longer has his insignia he is pushed around, beaten and treated like the lowest of the low, before even leaving his own kingdom! This is one young dwarf who has a long road of growing and understanding of the world to gather. Roskin is completely niaive and does ridiculously dangerous things, both brave and foolish and kind of falls into his quest, with good intentions, but truly no clue.
I had a bit of a hard time adjusting to the book, I am not one who typically goes in for this type of fantasy, dwarves and war and those long crazy names you only find in this stuff, but it grew on me, just like Roskin. He was one of those teenaged characters who thinks they know what is going on but don’t, that kind of irritate you until eventually they realize what a bone-head they have been, have some angst and then grow up. Roskin really grew into himself and began to “get it” after a bit. He has to go through some trials and make a few friends. But he does finally grow and develop. Yay!
I really was enjoying things a lot as the intensity of the finale hit and folks pulled themselves together to do what needed doing. Roskin’s quest is by no means over at the end of this book, though it might have changed…but I am going to have to read book 2 to really find out where he is going. And luckily I have it!! :) It started as a 3 star book for me, but ended as a 4 star, so I guess I give it 3.5+ stars carved in the handle of a sword.
Here is the link to the review on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/551949488