College Days

You’ve heard about the novel.

You’ve read the short stories.

You’ve seen the… whatever you’ve seen; I can’t say for sure.

But now you’re probably wondering, what is Gabe doing at college? I’ve asked myself this question many times, and now I’m going to try to answer it for everyone. It’s probably not what everyone’s expecting. I’m an artist. In retrospect, that was probably implied by my stating I was a “Fine Arts” major. But yes, I draw, I paint and I sculpt. I can’t do those last two very well at all, but that’s what I’m in school to learn.

Here’s the main issue with the Fine Arts major: there is a great lack of testosterone. This is not because men are unable to sculpt and paint and draw. For some reason, it’s considered a less masculine affair. I’m not sure why this is. Many of the great painters were, in fact, men. Da Vinci was a man. Van Gogh was a man. Salvador Dali was a man. Claud Monet was a man. The Phantom of the Opera was a man.

Admittedly, that last person is fictional, but technically he still invented a ton of stuff.


But anyhow, there is a lack of testosterone. I’ve noticed it multiple times in the years I’ve been here. I noticed it especially yesterday, when I walked into ceramics class for the first time. Class size? 20. Girls? 19. Guys? Me and the professor.

Upon noticing the situation, the professor walked over to me and pleaded, “Don’t quit! I need some support in this room!”

“Yes, sir!” I replied with intense head nodding.

Speaking of ceramics, did you know that if you put Core 05 Clay in a kiln at 2000 degrees rather than Core 5 Clay, you could straight up melt your ceramics? I didn’t. Also, it turns out you can’t look at a kiln while it’s at its max heat, or you will straight up burn your eyes and permanantly damage your eyesight.

Dangerous stuff, this ceramic business.

Possibly more dangerous than those fencing classes I’m taking. I’m really only taking them so that I can become Inigo Montoya. Hopefully someone does not kill my father, but if they do, I can avenge him.

“Hello, my name is Gabriel Penn. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Reaching The End

I finally rewrote the end of the novel for the second draft. In the end, it’s far closer to what I wanted than what I had originally. It actually feels like the end of a book this time. Is it emotional? Oh yes. Does it leave room for a second book? Definitely. Am I asking too many questions? Most certainly. Should I stop asking them? Ok, ok, fine.

Anyway, I’m much happier with the end product than I was before. I still have tons of stuff to edit. About 50-100 pages, to be precise. It’s actually far less than I’m making it out to be, but it’s a decent sum. 

In case y’all want a real emotional trip, here’s link to the song I listened to while writing the end. 

It’s a trip to Sad-Mart, where your greeters are Melancholy and Dismay.

It’s pretty sad.

In good news, I have recently arrived at school for my senior year at good old Liberty University! I have an excellent year in front of me, mainly because I never have to wake up before 9:30 for any reason whatsoever. I mean, I still do because they give me bacon if I come to breakfast, but I don’t have to. Technically.

This is the life of a Fine Arts student. 

In the meantime, I plan to raise awareness of the awesome Dark Veil Saga by creating the life size version of “Leviathan Killer” in some media besides metal. I don’t want to kill anyone by fake-stabbing them, which is the ultimate purpose of this endeavor.

I also now have an Instagram (sirgabrielpenn) so you should all follow me for cool book/writing/reading stuff! I’m super sorry about those awards and challenges I’ve missed recently, so now that I have so much time I’m going to try to get to some of them. “Try” is the key word. There’s a lot of them.

Expect a revamping of short stories and Faith Friday soon!!

Finding your Style

So, it has happened. I’m slowly beginning to find a style. I mean that in both the sense of life and of writing. I was thinking about this yesterday, as I pulled out some of my favorite pieces of writing that I’ve written in a long, long while. I wondered why I enjoyed writing them so much – those specific ones. I figured it out.

It was that they came naturally to me. They were written like I would write them.

For so long I have tried to be someone else. I tried reading books and modeling my work after successful authors. I watched popular people in my years at college and tried to follow in their footsteps. But it wasn’t working out for me? Why? Because it wasn’t me.

I have found that my best work comes in the close-up. In writing, it’s the intimate, one-on-one moments where I can shine. In life, I enjoy myself best with a group of three to four people, even better one-on-one. So in a way, I didn’t have to find a style at all. I’ve just realized what it already is. And that makes it so much better, and people enjoy it that much better.

Moral of the story: don’t apologize for who you are. That’s all you can really be happy as.

Yup. Emotional and sappy blog. I make those occasionally. I’ll avoid them in later days.

Getting Back to Basics

Who am I? Why am I here? What do I want to accomplish? Why should you read this blog?

In September of last year, I decided to push my limits and make a personal blog answering those questions. I wanted to tell people about life as a college student, an amateur writer, and as a Christian.

It’s been almost a year since that first post. Now that I’m in Blogging 101, I’ve decided to come back to the basics. So let’s get started.

So, who am I? Well, I’m a young dude by the name of Gabriel Penn who really loves Jesus even more than his writing. And I really love writing. You have no idea. The people who read this blog regularly have some idea, but you new readers, oh… you’re in for a real ride with this blog. And for those who are wondering, my last name isn’t actually Penn. It’s a pen name. It’s one of the most glorious yet totally lame subtle jokes I have ever crafted in all of bad-joke-crafting history. And that’s saying a lot.

Why am I here? Because I believe that if you have a gift, you ought to share it with the world. All right, I’m not insanely epically talented, but it’s a gift. Like, if this gift were a car, it would be a Camry in the midst of a whole lot of Mustangs. But hey, it’s still a car, and it’s better than your own two feet. Especially for those who don’t have feet. But if you don’t have feet… how are you driving a car?

These are the great questions of life.

Also, I’m writing a novel, and I want to get the word out. Trust me, the word’s getting out. I reference it in some way in basically every other blog post. What I lack in Tolkienesque writing skills I make up for in persistence.

worst writer

What do I want to accomplish? If nothing else, I would like to give people a bit of a break from the average and the everyday. I think that’s in some way what books and stories are all about. It’s about giving someone a step away from real life to teach them more about it. Apart from all the hubbub about novels and stories and writing tips, I want a blog that makes people think. The fact is that making another world is a great way to teach someone how to live in the current one. It’s like the Sims, but better.

Why should you read this blog? Well, you should read this blog because it has cool personal stories, even cooler written stories, stuff about my upcoming novel, occasional so-lame-its-funny humor, writing tricks I’ve picked up along my writing journey, and… that’s about it. Wow. That was so easy to summarize that it makes me a little sad inside.

In the continuing months, I plan to evolve the blog a little more. You’re going to be seeing more personal stories and intellectual thoughts alongside all the writing stuff. I don’t know how it’s going to work, but I’m going to take my road less traveled anyway.

Where no Gabriel Penn has gone before!

* ‘Star Trek’ theme sounding off into the distance *

Before I go too crazy, follow me if you have not already, give me a like, and comment your thoughts on all this!

In the Morning

The sun has come to rest;

The day has all but ended.

And laughter speaks of zest

And spring’s last day impended.

Furniture fills the hall

As my hall mates start to clean,

And talk of the next fall

And the year that had just been.

The rooms all look empty

As college boys come and go

And say with somber glee

“See you next semester, bro.”

But while spring’s end can’t be glummer,

In the morning starts the summer.

What a Day

What a day.

I say that, but it has barely even started yet. College is slowly winding down, or rather, winding up. There was a great portion of the semester when I thought I was not going to be able to return. That has changed, and I’ll be returning to be doing a lot of things. Obviously one of the main things is simply finishing the book that I’ve been working on for so long. That’s taking up some portion of my time. Not that I mind it or anything. I think I simply come to enjoy it more as time goes on. It’s become my own work rather than something I’m doing for somebody else. I used to think of it as a way that perhaps, someday, I would get some money or something off of it. But now, life is different. I see everything different. I see the time spent here in college as something I should have taken advantage of far more often.

I think today’s a good example. I could’ve let the fact that I only got three hours of sleep due to rain and a roommate who tends to stay up too late to do homework bother me. I could’ve let arriving to class as late as I did due to a broken alarm clock bother me. I could let the general rush of final exams bother me. But I can also see this from a different perspective. Now I can look at it as having a roommate who simply has a different style of doing things than I do. Now I can look at life and realize that not everybody has a college class to go to. Now I can look at the rush and be thankful that I did everything that I did beforehand, when it wasn’t as hectic.

Obviously, not everything can be looked at with a positive viewpoint. That’s the world we live in, because not everything is positive. I know friends who have it way worse off than I do. Yeah, there’s a few things going on with the family back home that I’m not exactly excited about, but that’s life. That’s college. I can’t be everywhere at once, and I don’t have to be. I’m not omnipotent, I’m not omnipresent, and I’m not omniscient. And I just sort of have to be okay with that. It’s not like I can change the fact that I’m human. I’m probably never going to be able to perfectly balance school work, socializing, and writing. I’ll always wish I did one more than the other. Honestly, I’m getting used to the fact that life is a challenge.

I’m always up for a good challenge.

So I’ll keep doing what I love to do, and we’ll see where that gets me!

I Am Not Left Handed

Okay, actually I am left-handed. It’s a “Princess Bride” thing. So, maybe, “I am not right-handed”? Anyway, that’s not the point. I’ve decided to go all the way with my research for the book. Okay, it wasn’t exactly about research for the book in the beginning, but now that I’m thinking about, it is. Basically, I decided to take up sword fighting.

“My name is Gabriel Penn. You didn’t actually kill anyone, but prepare to die anyway.”

As it turns out, our campus has a sword fighting club. I found this out by being my geeky self and going to a 24-hr game night. It was a charity event, and during the later part of the night, I found myself talking to a guy. I was talking to this guy because he had a giant foam sword in his pack that he was carrying. I was like, “That’s cool, I wonder why he has that.” I don’t know if that’s exactly what I was thinking, because it was sometime around 1 o’clock in the morning. But regardless of what I was thinking, I decided to figure out exactly what was going on. As it turns out, he is part of the sword club on campus. Not only did he have one large foam sword in his pack, he had a lot of foam swords in his pack. They were all different shapes and sizes. My interest was growing. He let me know they had even more weapons at the place where the club had their meetings, and defensive things too. They had swords and shields and spears and basically anything you would want to attack somebody or defend yourself with.

This isn’t an original picture of the weapons, but it’s deff how it felt looking down at the innards of his suitcase.

Being my super geeky self, I was beyond excited. This would mean that I would have the chance to see exactly what my characters would be doing in fight scenes. I would be able to get inside the fighter’s head in a way I couldn’t before.

But he let me know this would not be easy. They would actually be sword fighting. Obviously, he noted, they would be using foam swords, but that did not mean they would be going easy on anybody. If they hit you, they were going to. This probably should’ve may be less interesting. But it didn’t. In fact, I figured I needed a better way to exercise than the way I’d been doing it before. Simple fact: running really isn’t that fun. Another fact: sword fighting totally is – especially to a guy who looked up to the character Trunks in Dragonball Z when he watched it as a kid. It is even more so, to a guy who loves the movie “Princess Bride” and probably always will.

If I randomly gain long purple hair and a cool jacket during this ordeal, I WILL blog about it.

And speaking of “Princess Bride”, this guy let me know that the sword fighting club did not do everything in the way of swords. If I wanted to learn fencing as seen in Zorro and Princess Bride, I would have to go to a separate club on campus – the fencing club. So now, it seems likely I’ll be going to both next semester. If this is what us geeks do for exercise, I’ll happily be a geek forever.

Mapmaking and Male Bonding

I’m slowly feeling better, and now it no longer hurts to breathe. So thank you all for the concern. However, each time my roommate Kelechi walks into the room I start coughing again. Perhaps I am allergic to a mix of Kelechi and doors being opened.

I blame a mix of an excellent immune system and power metal for my severely rapid recovery. There’s nothing like the sound of a soul-shaking bass to get the blood flowing a little bit. That’s a good part of how I’ve bonded with a third of the males on this dormitory hall – gaming, metal and our love for the ’90s. I wish the latter wasn’t as much of a thing. It just so happened that there was a ’90s-themed night, and we all felt compelled to go the full mile. This involved me shaving my beard into a goatee based off Kurt Cobain’s facial hair. Now I miss my fuller beard. But it’ll be ok, I think. At least I got to show off knowing all the lyrics to the “Fresh Prince” theme. This is even more amusing because I know I can’t rap to save my life.

male bonding
Although I’m not in the picture, as I was still getting dressed, few can dispute that I was the best dressed.

In the meantime, I’m trying to get the things in my head out of my head and on paper. That involves not only doing more things with the second draft of the book, but also making a map. This may seem like a simple thing to most people, but it is not. Now I have to have actual distances, directions, relations and landmarks. I must officially decide what to call that mountain range from the beginning of the book. Black Mountains, Espya Mountains? Make them two separate things? I don’t know.

It involves math, too. That makes me sad. I hate math. I have to ask, well, how quickly was this guy or gal walking per day? How many miles or kilometers would that make? I then convert those mi/km to centimeters for the map, things like that. At least I’m not the one doing the epic drawing for it as well. It’s not that I couldn’t. Everything past the math is relatively simple. It’s the illustrator’s job, not mine. Hip, hip, hurrah for making someone else do the dirty work!

For those who also love fantasy books, what has been your favorite fantasy book map? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

University Reunion

So, I’m back in University after a long time of not writing much of anything. It’s great to be back! Much happened during the time I was gone, including Mum coming up with creatures from the book all by herself. (In reality, we just made some quick changes to dragons and called them nogards. So simple a child could do it, yet complete genius. My Mum’s a genius. I wish I hadn’t figured that out so late.)

Being back to school hasn’t been without its awkward moments. The most awkward moment involved me finding out my grades from last year. The less awkward moment was determining how to finish this year with… not that GPA. So that seems like it’ll be quite the adventure. Plus, I seem to be getting along better with my nocturnal roommate who I almost never saw till this semester. Turns out, he’s not completely mute! And from the five small talks we had, he seems like a neat dude.

Also, I’m going to start working out regularly! This excites me and terrifies me, because I’m super out of shape, and I remember how much I hated the process of working out while I was in shape. This should be a very exciting time in history for me, also a little adventure.

I think adventure seems to be a big part of this year. I’m heading out into new territory, to meet new friends and revisit old ones, to go new places and experience new experiences (like the experience of experiencing the snowboarding experience). Experiences.

Romance is trying to blossom, but me being happily single I keep trying to snuff it out. “What do we say to the god of romance? Not today!” It seems to be happening with a fellow writer, and even if it’s true that writers are also good lovers (not intended in the sexual aspect, but take it as you will), I’m going to try to stay single a couple months longer at least.

Maps are a big part of things, for those following the Dark Soldier book page on Facebook. We will soon be attempting a full scale map of the-land-that-shall-not-be-named. No, Voldemort is not from there. That would be a hilarious plot twist, though.

“Yer a magi, Voldemort.”

Also, speaking of the book and writing, I’m going to be doing a casting call! All y’all from the Upstate New York area are welcome to participate. Poster below:


And that’s the end of tonight’s blog, sadly! I have little else to chat about. But tomorrow, I’ll be getting back into the fun stuff. Can’t wait, and thanks for being patient!