Auld Lang Syne, my Dear

2014. What a year.

So as it is the last day of it, I think perhaps it is time to look back a bit, and with our last glance back remember that we have always things to look forward to.

I remember the beginning of the year for me. I was going to another Bible college before the one I go to now, up in Upstate New York. I don’t know if I would do the beginning of the year again, as it was near a lake and therefore felt like the North Pole up until April. But I learned much through it, especially when the Teen Winter Camp started.

I, like a lot of people, volunteered myself for camp counsellor. It would mean that I would be taking on a small group of teens, keeping them safe and happy during the weekends. It was the first time that I would get the chance to be a father figure for a bit. It was certainly not easy, but it had its ups as well as downs. The first weeks I was unable to do much good at all. By the end, I realized something. I enjoyed parenting. I really did! Regardless of the mental handicaps, behavioral patterns and any issues that we faced, I really enjoyed teaching them, guiding them, consoling them when upset and praising them. I even grew to appreciate the time correcting, because I knew it would guide them into becoming a better person.

And then, during that time I found something. I was finding myself to be slowly becoming more and more interested in a lady friend of mine. Apparently she and I were the only ones who saw it coming, as we were so massively different. Me, a hipster geeky, metal lover, and her, a rap-loving, baggy-clothed dreadlocked gangster chick; we seemed incompatible even as friends. And yet, two weeks into the spring semester, we found ourselves going out regularly, and eventually, after a bit of talking, were officially dating. I had known her for some time up until that point, but to be actually dating the person you want to be? That’s a very surreal feeling.

And as quickly as it began, summer came and we had to make a decision now that our paths were separating. Would we continue as before, or would we have to go our separate ways? There was always long-distance, but still…
In the end, we decided splitting up for a while was the best option. And maybe that will return, who knows.

So came summer, and once again I decided to counsel at a youth camp. I hoped that I would get teens again. Apparently I was good with them, or so I thought. And yet as fate would have it, I found myself counseling children not much older than my own nieces and nephews, ages from five to twelve. I was terrified, and thought for a surety that I could not handle them.

And through that I learned something, too. I learned that parents don’t work just on occasion, they work all day, every hour, even in their sleep they are working. I would find myself comforting kids who were missing their parents, singing to kids who needed it, sitting down next to kids who just needed someone to talk to. It’s a beautiful thing, to take care of a child, I think. I can never underestimate the work parents do again, because it is incredibly hard. But it is also incredibly rewarding, and I would do it over and over again if I had the chance.

I learned a lot that summer. I gained friends that I will always remember, a man who I consider equal with my own brothers, and life lessons I will never forget. Most importantly, I gained wisdom that will stay with me for the rest of my life. You age a lot when you’re raising up the next generation for eight weeks straight.

Then came the end of summer. I would have to say goodbye to friends that I had for so long, and find new ones. I would be going into a place so much unlike what I had experienced before. I would be going from a very little known school to a massive one, Liberty University. I remember walking into the cafeteria and thinking, “Gosh, there’s more people here than live in my own hometown. How am I going to meet anyone?”

So I sat down next to a random person, and found out something. I’m not good at making starting conversations at all.

Weren’t expecting that one, were you? Some kind of sappy thing like I was putting before? Hah! Nice try, ain’t gonna happen!

But I kept trying anyway, and now I’m friends with like a quarter of the school. Basically if I’ve talked with you for about ten minutes you’ll find a Facebook request from me. I’m just that kind of person. With college came meeting new friends, cosplaying for the first time (Jack Skellington, since I’m incredibly and increasingly skinny), my everlasting hatred of finals week, and a very short dating period with someone who was already dating someone else.

And to end this brief tale of college, I must talk about the one thing that returned, which is the return of writing my novel Dark Soldier. While I was working on school things, I found out that I truly enjoy writing more than I enjoy my artwork. For me, it was probably the most unusual find of the year. Until that point artwork was my life and my joy and pride. But I came to find that as good as I was, I did it far more often because I was good at it than that I actually enjoyed it. And so now, I pursue things that I enjoy, not that I’m good at. I think life is better that way.

I think this is going to be the beginning of possibly the most epic journey of life I have ever had. And to think, in only a year and a half I’ll be out of college and heading out to find what my life work will be. It’s probably going to be finishing my novel the Soldier Chronicles, Dark Soldier being the first book of the series. Thanks to writing, I’ve gotten tons of friends and fans, in real life as well as online. I’ve gotten a blog, which I love writing for, a Twitter, which I never thought I would get, and over five hundred fans on Facebook! That’s mind-blowing to me. I never thought I would reach such a point. And so, with how much you blessed me, I want to bless you. So I present, my musical end to the year, Auld Lang Syne. Just follow the link, and you find me doing an instrumental cover of my favorite Scottish folk song. I have very fond memories associated with it.

I have so much to be thankful for this year, and with all the heartbreak and devastation and hard work I still wouldn’t trade this year for the world, not a single day.

God bless every single of you wonderful people.

Advertisements

Musical Madness, Magnificence and Manbeards

For those interested, the new writing tips video on mythology making is now finished. It’s been up since about a week ago. *cue annoying Vine music*

But for those interested in the next one, or music of any sort (and since you clicked this link you seem to be), I will be putting some musical awesomeness into the next video blog, coming Tuesday, or by the time this blog is finished writing, today. This awesomeness is due to the ocarina that I finally get after a year and a half of not having one. What is the ocarina, you might ask? It’s the best instrument ever! And I will explain why, as of right now.

There is more to the ocarina than its short rise to popularity due to Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. In fact, long before it made its way into geek culture, it was a four-holed Aztec wind instrument. It’s basically shaped like a potato with a stem to breath into, with a variety of holes depending on the style.

This is no ordinary potato. This is, advanced potato.
This is no ordinary potato. This is, advanced potato.

Plus, it sounds totally awesome, as shown by the video in the link. And I used to be pretty good with it, at least according to everyone that listened to it. So I’ll take their word for it.

Yessir, there isn’t much things that are more hipster than traveling with a tiny aztec instrument in skinny jeans and a sweater. In case you’re wondering, I used to do that often. And now I have a beard to add to the hipsterness. Now if I could only find a beanie, I could be SuperHipsterMan. I write this all on a Macbook Air. I have severe problems, people.

That is it for this round of randomness. Let me know what YOUR favorite instruments are, or if you play an instrument! Adios, Au revoir, and God bless!

When will someone call me Mummy?

It was true when I said my last blog would be my last before Christmas, but a fellow blogger has posted something truly beautiful. Enjoy.

But I Smile Anyway...

image

Christmas time is almost upon us, and everyone out there has some sort of Christmas wish, be it a specific material item, or goodwill to all…

But there are a lot of people who have one wish that is not always so easy to wrap and place under a Christmas tree…

I was in that position 12 years ago.  I didn’t care for anything else, all me, and Hubby Dearest wanted was to become parents.

It always looked like such an easy thing.  In my limited experience within the family at that time, apart from a very few, couples got married and within a year or 2 we were told the lovely news that they were expecting.  Great! So, now we were married, we’d had a year or so of being a love-struck newly wed couple.  My father had several sets of twins on his side of the family, so there was…

View original post 2,271 more words

The Single Person’s Christmas

Apologies for not posting a blog for some time. I have been amassing a Twitter following, starting with 17 but sure to burst till its full power is reached. Soon this budding author shall have armies of hundreds in Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Middle Earth…! All right, maybe not that last one. As the Christmas season nears, I think it’s been the first one in a long time that I’ve been single for the holidays. But there are perks to that as well as deep sadness of the memories of girlfriends past. So let me share with you all that!

  • Con: I don’t have a significant other to buy a gift for.
  • Pro:  I don’t have a significant other to buy a gift for! Huzzah for stingy people!
  • Con: No-one to kiss under the mistletoe. (Not that I ever actually did that, as I don’t care where I kiss someone should I do so.)
  • Pro:  Bah, who am I kidding. I never did it anyway. And besides, if I wanted to, I’m no longer limited to one. 😉
  • Con: No legitimate possible snuggle partners.
  • Pro:  Ha-ha! Now I have the blankets all to myself. You won’t even be able to see me under this cozy awesomeness.
  • Con: I don’t get as much of a kick out of romantic love songs.
  • Pro:  I’m no longer waiting for them. Now I like ALL THE SONGS! “Frosty the snowman, was a jolly happy soul…”
  • Con: I have no legitimate excuse to run away from everyone else to do a one-on-one talk.
  • Pro:  People still totally understand when you randomly disappear recovering from lost love. Or just leave for any reason. People are tiring for an introvert! And you now have more time to enjoy the holiday with family!

May you all have excellent holidays ahead of you! Merry, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, A very festive Kwanzaa to those that celebrate, and Happy Holidays to all the rest! And, of course, a Happy New Year to boot! This is my blog, and so until Christmas is over, I sign off! God bless!

*Insert Evil Laugh Here*

It’s only been five hours into my day and I’m already tired. This is what happens when I try to do writing while on break, my brain just doesn’t know what to do with itself.

It all seems to be revolving around one simple line from the novel, which for purposes which are to be seen later understood, needs to be revised or permanently kept the way it is very soon. The line, as implied by the title, is a line spoken by a being made to be the perfect antagonist. He is one without rules. one known worlds around as pure unadulterated evil. But how exactly does one reflect that in a single quote?

That is the question that plagues me. After all, the one who speaks the line has to see a good version of it. (Slight spoiler for its purpose, I know, which is coming later this month.) So I give it to the collective to read. We have writers and readers, scholars and common folk, mothers and fathers, businesspeople and artists, Americans and the rest of the world in my group of followers. I think between us all we should be able to get a good final line that works.

Here we go:

“What is good… but an ideal? Has a good man ever existed? None, not one; they yearn for that darker side of themselves, and it is darkness that I shall give them…”

“…And then break them.”

So there you have it. And thus concludes probably my shortest and concisest blog to date, but after all, it’s the comments I’m most interested in here.

Good evening, my friends!

I Love You Guys!

I don’t even know what I’m doing, but apparently I somehow got a record amount of views from not even posting a blog. That was totally awesome. You guys are awesome! (I use guys as a collective term, you ladies are guys in my mind, too. I refer to males as dudes.)

So I decided in my happiness to make a blog about happiness, and the random things that make me happy. These are not tiered, they’re just a list.

  • Jesus lizards (because running on water is cool)
  • Jesus (as I don’t think its a problem to be proud of your religion, as long as you’re not a punk about it! 🙂 )
  • Munchkin cats
  • The Internet
  • Cupcakes
  • Gory Horror Movies (c-c-combo breaker!)
  • Fire!! 😀
  • Anime
  • Friends who try to understand even if they don’t fully
  • Cheese sauce (I PUT IT ON EVERYTHING)
  • CHRISTMAS
  • CHRISTMAS!
  • CHRISTMAS!!
  • did I mention Christmas?
  • Neon
  • Jiujitsu
  • Dragons
  • More fire! 😀
  • Chimeras
  • Bonfires (separate, I swear)
  • Tacos!
  • Food in general
  • Family

And that’s about all I can think of off the top of my head right now. Ending on a very strange note, I have come up with a super-new creature for the novel (see the Facebook for more info) called Togs and Froads. Yes, they do look like frogs and toads, but I also mixed in a little fantasy and a little chameleon too. So they can perch on shoulders, have longer tails, and can camouflage. Seems good to me! And have some weird as heck noises that they make. What are your opinions?!

Good evening, my friends! Be excellent to each other!

Wondrously Normal

First draft of the novel goes up tomorrow for those who requested it! Can’t wait, although sadly I can’t remember all of the people who wanted it. So sad. :/ For those who didn’t, look up the Facebook page sometime.

I have to admit something. Nothing extraordinarily epic, awe-inspiring, or even really worth writing a blog about actually happened today. But that’s okay! Because some days are indeed, quite ordinary. And that’s quite all right, honestly! I think the simple fact is… that sometimes its the ordinary moments in life that can leave an unordinary print on the dirt road of our own lives. So let me tell you about one of those footprints that was made today.

Today I got the chance to babysit my little five-year-old niece. It was totally awesome. It makes me want to be a dad all the more than I already do. I do, a lot, but I’m all about the no-sex-before-marriage thing (not that I’m going to demonize those that aren’t). She’s a little darling, but like every little child her age she can be a rascal. That’s okay, though, that’s just kid stuff. Every kid has to play in the mud a bit, knock over breakable furniture, jump on the bed, because that’s part of being a kid! I hope I can appreciate it almost as much should I become a parent.

I say should, because I live with the realization I could die at any second. Who knows, maybe I could go to sleep and not wake up in the morning. Anybody could! Those worried about that are either in a bad spot or just not living life the right way. Carpe Diem, my friends. Spend your life wisely, you’ve only got one shot at it.

I know, perhaps I refer to my book too much, but this is a writers blog as much as it is a personal one. To be honest, I think I hit it pretty well in one section of the book in particular. (There’s a scene from TFIOS that says something similar, but I do not own the book nor do I think I could find the scene it on Google if I tried.)

“Are babies who die in the cradle less than lords who rule over cities? No. Are the lame worse than the walking? No. I was equal, even if no one else saw it, maybe even something more. Life is life, it all matters […] no matter whether you do something grand with it or not. So I’ll still believe in you, even if no one else does.”

-Zenti, Dark Soldier

And so do I also believe in you! Call me ignorant, call me naive, but I have a faith in people that perhaps most people don’t. I see potential in even the darkest of souls because I know that it’s not what you’ve done, not what others have done to you, but what you do with your life now, in the present, that defines you. We don’t all have the chance to be a change the world, but we do have a chance to change ourselves, because we’re just wondrously normal like that.

So take hold of your own pen. Write your own story. In the words of Confucius, “every journey begins with a single step”. Take it today.

Big ‘n Bad Beasts

I’ve decided today to do a very writer-centric blog today. So here we go, a little talk on one of my favorite things in fantasy writing – the creatures.

I think one of the most important things in fantasy writing is thing that make it a clear fantasy piece. That clear thing is more often than not the creatures of that particular world. The main go-tos for this are typically things like unicorns, dragons, and other animals or humanoids (like elves) that we already know don’t exist in the real world. Do not worry, I am not going to claim that there is a serious problem with writing in creatures that have already been seen before. Really, if we write any humanoid creatures at all including humans, we are putting in something seen before. My point is simply this: never, ever underestimate your own creativity.

One of the great marks of a good fantasy series is the ability to make a convincing world. While it is certainly interesting to have known fantasy creatures, or even lesser known fantasy creatures, always remember that this is your world. You have power here. You are the god of your own paper universe. So while you are more than capable of using other people blueprints, never feel you need to follow them exactly. Is it cool to have fire-breathing flying creatures? Yes. Is it cool to have dragons? Yes. But nobody ever said they needed to look like an exact replica of Smaug from Lord of the Rings, or Daenerys’ dragons from Game of Thrones. In fact, if you want to make them look like a giant flying fire-breathing squirrel and still call it a dragon, you are more than welcome to do so, although it probably won’t be as intimidating. There are really no rules here.

Fear me, morals!!
Fear me, mortals!!

Really, someone should bring back the Wyvern. Maybe it’s not as elegant looking, but heck, it is awesome.

Furthermore, don’t be scared to deviate completely from all past fantasies and make your own completely unique creature. A good example is the slime from the Final Fantasy series. Who would think that a giant piece of sentient goop would be an interesting enemy? Yet somehow, not only did they run with it, but they have appeared in almost every version of the game since. They’ve even shown up in multiple other franchises, including one where they are the main characters. With that in mind, never be afraid to make up your own creatures, no matter how dumb they may sound in your brain.

A note regarding creating creatures… if you plan to make a hybrid, choose creatures of similar environments. Even in nature this seems to be the case. A platypus is the best example. It is clearly its own separate creature, yet looks like the mixture of a beaver and a duck. Both of those creatures live both in and out of the water, and therefore the mixture of the two does the same. Yet it also has its own style. Do the same with your creatures. While it may look interesting to mix two totally different creatures of completely different environments, it probably won’t help them exist as a creature. That is, unless you have one really whacked out environment that it lives in. Think of what exists in the environment that makes it look that way. Animals basically use every piece of their body for something, it’s up to you what to do with it.

birdsnake
This is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about.

Still, don’t worry too much about how it looks. Just because it sounds weird doesn’t necessarily means it doesn’t work. Heck, I once had a creature in the series that was a created by mixing and matching pieces of a gorilla, a mountain goat and an elephant! It turned out totally awesome.

Don’t worry, a lot of these work for your more humanoid creatures. That’s how cat-people came to be, and most everybody loves them. Although, strangely, you never see platypus-people, or giraffe-people, or even dog-people. Am I the only one that sees the potential here?

That’s all I have for today, go forth and make epic fantasy worlds with epic fantasy creatures!

Be Proud of Your Heritage!

I think that most white Americans tend to naturally think of an immigrant as someone who either speaks a different language than them or has a different color. But that, alas, is not the case! My mother, in fact, only recently got her American citizenship after living in Canada all of her life up until age 23, and her family, only recently before coming to Canada (my great-grandparents being the first to come over) were Highland Scottish! To this day, my auntie still remembers an old Scottish saying, which some might recognize:
“Here’s tae us; wha’s like us? D*** few, and they’re a’ deid!”

Describes our family excellently.

So of course, I am quite fond of my Scottish (and Canadian) family heritage! I would be just as proud of my German side (my father’s family) if I knew them better. I like to think that I am connected to William Wallace somewhere in there, but it’s probably not the case. I do know, however, someone who is, and we happen to get along quite nicely.

A fun little family story for you. It turns out that the English and Scottish side of the MacKenzie clan just do not get along. My aunt never quite got around to explaining it, but from what I’m reading on Wiki (which may not be the best source of info) it is implied that after being an english POW during a dark age war, one of my ancestors joined the English side and the family tree has not been the same since. Fun story, but those sorts of things don’t go over well for families.

Still, I personally have nothing against the English. English people made Doctor Who and Sherlock, so clearly they’re pretty awesome too. In fact, my first girlfriend was English and she was totally awesome.

In further fact, although being part Scottish, I do not follow the stereotypical tendencies of my people to hate every other country. I still love my German side, even though Hitler came from there. I still love Ireland, mainly because I don’t know anything terrible that happened in Ireland but even if they have it doesn’t matter. Why? Because regardless of what a country has done in the past, their future self as a country is not responsible. They are different people. This same concept works with relationships. Perhaps if we saw that more often, this world would be a lot less chaotic.

In closing, I always put something from my novel, so here’s something slightly related. This sword’s design is loosely based off of a Scottish claymore, and so I give you: the Leviathan Killer.

Leviathan Killer Stats
Total Length: 65 in
Blade Length: 50 in
Description: Golden-scaled hilt with red gem in pommel and dragon claws as cross-guards. Triangular blade.
Abilities: Legend has it that it is the only sword capable of killing a leviathan, a massive sea monster unable to be found by being searched for.
Crafter: World’s first dragonslayer

War in Fantasy Novels (Part 1): Put That Sword Down

Intriguing! Many good points involved.

James Wolanyk

Good evening, morning, or afternoon, dear reader. I’d like to have an informal chat about the nature of warfare and violence within fantasy novels, but this is a fairly extensive topic, so I’ll break it down into easily-digested posts relating to a single topic. More than likely, the various discussions will focus on the economics of warfare, the tactics of warfare, the armor of warfare, and the wounds of warfare, making this is a five part series.

“Five?” you ask with a smirk. “You listed but four!”

Ah, fear not, dear reader. Our first discussion relates to the topic of weapons, hence “put the sword down.” You see, the sword itself is not an inherently poor weapon. Quite the contrary, in fact. There are plenty of good (and sharp) reasons why swords were used throughout history, and not all of them relate directly to their efficiency in combat. Once again, on the…

View original post 797 more words