Saturday, August 25, 2012

Flank Hawk Audiobook on Sale (76% off)

Audible has lowered the price of Flank Hawk!

It's regular retail price is $24.95
($14.95 for members)

Sale Price is $5.95
($4.16 for members)

That's quite a deal and I do not know how long it will be available.

Here's the direct link to check it out:
Flank Hawk at

Note: All Gryphonwood Press Titles are on Sale for $5.95

Friday, August 24, 2012

Too Many Gadgets and Junk Going On

Maybe it's just me--or maybe not, but I find it frustrating when I visit some blogs that take 'forever' to load, even on newer computers. I will note here that I have one older computer (mine where I do most of my writing) and a newer one (my wife's) that I utilize for visiting the Internet and reading blogs.

Once the blog page opens, it takes what seems like half an eternity to load. I cannot scroll down, or begin to really read the article or the item of interest that attracted my interest. And in truth, I am a pretty patient fellow, but there is no reason it should take ten or fifteen seconds (or longer) to load all of the links, gadgets, and other content along the margins--stuff I will never look at, let alone click on to further explore. Does anybody? And then if I have to scroll a bit, there's a delay. Heck, sometimes I do open another window and do something else so I don't have to idly sit and wait.

Yes, that content all has a place. But there are some blogs where the article ends, even a long one with several pictures included, and there still remains 2/3 of the bar left to scroll down to see all of the pictures, thumbnails, links and 'stuff that might be of interest' to blog visitors?

Some blogs even have a lot of that 'content' center top, and you have to scroll down (after waiting for the content to load) to get to the articles, interviews, reviews, etc.

Maybe it's because I regularly delete cookies and other items stored on my computer. Maybe it's because I am too impatient, or maybe some bloggers should rethink what they have on their blog pages because, in truth, what's there might be interesting and I might want to read, but rather than wait, I just click on to the next blog or website of potential interest.

What I have found is that I tend to visit those cluttered blogs less and less often. But again, that may just be me. And, while they lose one regular visitor, maybe their numbers are climbing.

Note: Yes I do have a long column, mainly left margin bottom for labels. But it sure as heck doesn't take forever to load that.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Article: Trust the Reader at Strands of Pattern

Writer Jeff Hargett invited me to be a part of his August is Awesome event by writing an article as a guest over at  his blog, Strands of Pattern.

If you have a moment, click on over and read my article: Trust the Reader, and maybe make Jeff's blog a regular stop. He normally has some interesting things posted there.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Writing Fantasy with The Deadliest Warrior

If you've read either of the first two novels in my epic fantasy series, you know that they're post-apocalyptic. As such there, there is a range of technology and weapons, along with magic and mythical creatures, that play a part in the plot and battles that occur. Close examination of the covers of Flank Hawk and Blood Sword hint at this.

A few months back I came across a TV series available on Netflix called the Deadliest Warrior. I found it to be interesting while providing information and ideas for my writing.

The premise of the series is to pit two opponents from history that never faced each other in a combat to the death. Weapons, skills, training, tactics and several other factors are examined by various experts, from an experienced ER trauma surgeon who assesses the lethality of wounds inflicted by various weapons employed by the warriors to arms and combat experts who assess the effectiveness of  weapons against opponents. All of the information is programmed into a combat simulation program where it's run 1000 times to determine which of the two warriors (combatants) is the victor. Of course, they have a combat between the selected warriors whose script is determined by the computer results.

To give you an idea, among eleven matchups in the first season, they pitted:
Viking vs. Samurai
Pirate vs. Knight
Spartan vs. Ninja.

What I found interesting was the assessment of the variety of weapons and tactics against differing weapons, armor and tactics. This is something that I researched for my novels. Now, certainly the show doesn't examine how well a fire-breathing dragon would fare against a Stuka dive-bomber, or how well an earth wizard would match up against a panzer, but the program has provided me with further ideas and insight as to how primitive explosives and firearms would affect armored opponents, and how varying swords and other weapons would match up in combat and against types of weapons and armor they were not designed to overcome.

While I didn't always agree with some of the assessments of weapons, and the program's method of testing them against each other, it did provide me with somethings to ponder as I move forward with the next novel in the First Civilization's Legacy Series (whose working title is Soul Forge).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Novel for Fantasy RPGers

Critical Failures: Caverns and Creatures is a fun, fast-paced read that had me smiling at the characters and their actions throughout the novel.

The concept of gamers being transported into the role playing game they're involved in isn’t new. The Dungeons and Dragons cartoon from the early 1980s and the Guardians of the Flame series by Joel Rosenberg are prime examples. So, while Critical Failures is a fantasy novel, its real value/target audience is readers who’ve played role playing games or at least have some knowledge of them, and Robert Bevan’s novel is a solid addition to this particular fantasy sub-genre.

The characters and their interaction are this novel’s strong points, although if you’re a reader who doesn’t care for foul language in dialogue, then it might not be for you (see the novel's subtitle in the cover image to the right). It annoyed me at times , however, the language is in line with the characters and their actions.

I would have preferred more description of setting and situations. A line here or there would have helped me orient and understand the setting and action as I read, and at the beginning I had difficulty keeping characters straight, especially before they became integrated into the fantasy adventure world as their RPG characters.

I enjoyed the humorous references to the game and mechanics as it affected the characters as well as the characters’ various struggles to survive while helping their cohorts along.

The ending was interesting and well-set up (translate good foreshadowing), and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t at least one more novel in the potential series.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I'll Miss You, David Stace, and I'm Not the Only One


Dave with his wife and daughters, May 2012
Today a good friend and co-worker, David Stace, was laid to rest. Here’s a newspaper article discussing what happened that led to his death: Local Teacher Dies after Fall

I believe the reason David Stace touched the lives of so many people is because so many felt they had a special relationship with Dave. It is an accurate assessment, because Dave took the time to make and to maintain that special connection with those he came into contact with, whether daily or whenever paths crossed. A smile, a handshake, a pat on the back, a "How're you doing?" or "How was your day?", a joke or bit of humor.

Dave Teaching Math
And when Dave made eye contact, and/or asked that question, you knew it was genuine. You knew he was listening. It showed in his eyes and in his smile and laugh, or look of concern and pat on the back. At work it was always, “Terrific Tuesday” or “Wonderful Wednesday.”

Consider all this to the backdrop of the curve balls life threw Dave's way. Just one of them was the fact that he suffered from seizures. Sometimes it frustrated Dave as it caused a lot of inconveniences such as inhibiting his ability to drive that led to dependence on others. Another was the concern that he might have a seizure while teaching. His students were always understanding of Mr. Stace’s concern, and I think the way he handled it and approached them about his health concern at the beginning of each school year left a positive impression on them. And, on rare occasion, he did suffer a seizure while teaching.

For a few summers I worked with Dave for his landscaping business (Stace’s Landscaping), where I mostly helped him lay paver bricks for patios, driveways and walkways. In truth, I really hate landscaping, but I really enjoyed the time I spent with Dave. Let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve dug out sod and dirt while singing Veggie Tales tunes (to the CDs). You know, they’re pretty fast-paced, so maybe it made us dig faster. It certainly made us laugh and the time sure went faster.

Truck Dave gave me. It sits on the
shelf above my computer with a
few other nick-nack gifts from
familyand friends
One of the things Dave enjoyed teasing me about was the fact that I was really inept at backing his truck up with his trailer attached—often filled with gravel. It’d take me three or four tries to get it backed up a driveway or lined up next to the proper pile in the gravel pit so the trailer could be filled. He promised me someday, for working with him, he’d get me a truck. Well, he did at the end of one summer’s work (see picture). When I was backing his truck and trailer up he often remind me with a smile, “You know, Tammy can do this. It doesn’t take her more than one try.” I recall telling him on more than one occasion, “That’s another good reason you married her instead of me.” And we'd laugh...and I'd pull forward and then try again.

And speaking of his wife Tammy, he told me many times he was so blessed and lucky that Tammy married him. He couldn’t imagine what she saw in him, but he felt so fortunate that she was in his life. That, and he was so happy to have each of his three daughters, and so proud of them. God truly, blessed him with a wonderful family (and they with a terrific and caring Dad and Husband).

It is beyond doubt that Dave was a special person who will be missed, while also being remembered by his wife, daughters, family and friends. He wasn't a perfect man—no man or woman can be, but he knew and was 100% on target in his priorities. He cared about and promoted Faith, Family and Friendship.

So, you’re wondering what might have been one of Dave’s flaws? It was his gift of gab, sometimes causing him to be late, or have to be fetched from somewhere in the school so he could get his ride home from work. But you know, he was really busy making, renewing or reinforcing that connection with someone, doing God’s work. I better know that now.

Another thing he teased me about most recently was my election to the St. Paris village council. On mornings when I was doing my wandering hall duty this past school year, I’d stop by and see him doing his morning duty, watching and checking off the buses from the various schools as they arrived and dropped students off. In addition to greeting so many of the students with a smile and a high five, he’d nod and say, “Councilman Ervin” and we’d chat for a moment or two. I’ll miss that.

Anyway, on occasion Dave would have a class or two that wasn’t particularly motivated. With that in mind, one thing we were planning to do this year was complete a song, rewording the Veggie Tales’ tune, “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.”  See, Dave and I often discussed teaching, and what goes on in the classroom, and how we could be more effective and help students succeed. It’s what teachers do—our way of talking shop. Yes, teachers complain a bit too, but our true passion and goal is to do our job better.

If you listen to the clip below, you get the words that begin the song. More than an few times I sang to him, to the melody with the following lyrics: “We are Stace’s students who don’t do anything. We just sit in class and goof around. And if he asks us to do anything…we just tell him, ‘We don’t do anything...’”

That’s as far as it went, but we laughed together and said we’d have to finish up the song next year (which would’ve been this coming school year). If you listen to the song, you can see where it could easily be made to fit a math classroom of low-motivated students. It would’ve been fun.

With that, I’ll close this blog post because, while I am deeply saddened at losing Dave, I rejoice in his reward, the Gift of Eternal Life, granted through the Grace of God. And I look forward to the day I'll once again hear him ask me, "Hey, Terry, how was your day?"

Dave and Frank at UVCC June Jammer 2012

Dave with Bob and Pam at Bob Evans

=====     =====     =====

This post could’ve gone on for a long time where I discussed events and memories with Dave. I’ll just include a list, which you may understand—but probably not, but when I click back on this post, it’ll be enough that I’ll remember. If anyone who knew Dave is ever interested, just ask me and I’ll flesh out the memory you might be curious about.

> The New Holland that had become a trellis.
> Able to only lift one eyebrow
> Rainbow won’t shed much
> Backyard swamp and manual backhoe
> Brain probe extensions required
> Replacing bulb in sanctuary requiring fully extended ladder
> 4-Weeder, Tunnels, …Mmmm? , and “Jake, don’t take my brownie.”
> Kodak (Kojak) and MINE!
> The Great Divorce and A Tale of Two Sons
> June Jammer water balloon shot
> Gutters, Bushes and Bees
> Digging hard clay for two hours and duct tape fingers
> Completing patio under halogen lights before Russia trip due to redo (me and neighbor)
Upper Valley JVS Academic Faculty, 2007

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tradition and Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries.

As a kid, my favorite breakfast cereal was Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries, a treat rarely purchased by my mother. Corn Flakes and Raisin Bran were the staple breakfast cereals in my home.

As an adult, Captain Crunch isn't a staple, but a treat. It's become a tradition of sorts, where I  (or my wife)  purchase a box around breaks in the school year--Christmas, Easter and Summer. (For those who may not know, in addition to being a writer and a village councilman, my main career is teaching)

Not the healthiest of ways to start the day, but there are worse. Just one of the cool options adults have over being a kid.