Posted by: johnkpatterson | April 13, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

Yesterday, author Robert Mullin kindly tagged me in a blog tour going by the name of The Writing Process. I got to know him over Facebook, and he has become a close friend of mine. A writer and adventurer, he is the author of Bid the Gods Arise, an excellent novel that deftly blends science fiction and fantasy. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m very enthusiastic to read more of his work.

So, here are the tour’s questions:

What am I working on?

My writing projects are currently twofold.

One, of course, is The Wolfglen Legacy, the epic fantasy series I’ve been working on for the better part of a decade. I’ve pitched it, edited it, had friends read parts of it…but then I realized it hadn’t matured quite enough. I need to finally write books 2, 3, and 4 (pieces of each do exist already), so I’ll see if I can finish the first book by summer this year.

My second project is the serialized science fiction thriller Arrivers. The first three installments are on Amazon Kindle for a buck each, and a fourth entry is underway. I’d love to see where this story goes and get a chance to spend more time with Sergeant Tobias, Reverend Rousseau, and the strange woman who calls herself Jezebel.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Apart from games like World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons, I don’t know of any epic fantasy that includes dinosaurs. Or elves who wield flintlock pistols, and treat them with the same deep honor and reverence as Samurai treat the katana. Or a villain who appoints himself as rescuer of mankind, who feels going to war is a necessary step to rescuing us from our own flaws and mistakes.

More than that, however, many new fantasy novels wade in moral ambiguity, Game of Thrones style. It makes for frustrating tales that don’t really celebrate or condemn anything. I want to tell stories that have moral complexity. There’s still a difference between right and wrong, even if they can tie knots around each other.

When it came to the Arrivers stories, I grew weary from seeing one science fiction story after another that was overtly materialistic. You know, the stories told by the likes of Ben Bova and Isaac Asimov, that go out of their way to say religious people are morons, science eradicates miracles, and God no longer has a place in the cosmos. So I wanted to write a science fiction story that wasn’t “religious,” but still admitted there’s more to the universe than particles and natural laws.

Why do I write what I do?

If someone tells me I take my writing too seriously, I’ll take it as a complement. :) My goal is to make someone feel like they are peeking through an interdimensional portal, witnessing events in a universe just as real as ours. Neither characters, nor story, nor world will be ready until it seems they’re entirely real. It’s not quite enough for me to try telling “a good story.” That’s the house’s foundation, so to speak.

How does my writing process work?

A few things help the writing process. Coffee with hazelnut creamer, concept art from movies, reading other novels, peace and quiet, and successfully resisting the siren call of Facebook. Still working on that last one….

I’ll often start with an idea and a paragraph or two, and build it up from there. Normally half of my edits happen as I’m writing the “first draft”. Supposedly this is a big no-no for writers, but it’s ended up helping me more and more with my own work.

Tagging Other Authors

For passing along this blog tour, I’d like to tag “Zombie Rob” Killam, another close friend of mine with an incredible talent for humor and witty dialogue. His upcoming zombie novel is called Apocalypse Springs.

The second writer I wanted to tag is my friend Joe Dorris, starring on the show Prospectors on the Weather Channel and fellow novelist who just released Salmon River Kid. He even paints his own cover art! How cool is that?

And here’s a third: mother, duchess and epic sci-fi author Ashley Hodges Bazer. I’m grinning at the prospect of reading her tales that encompass many worlds and have the kind of big-scale stories that deserve a movie or TV series. Here’s to much success, Ashley!

Posted by: johnkpatterson | April 2, 2014

The Joy of Writing: Robbed and Regained

Like many fantasy writers, I get a ton of inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien. The more I read his work, the more quotable he becomes. He has left quite an impression on my work and imagination, even in the reasons I write stories.

This will just be a brief instance of that procrastination known as “writing about writing,” before I finally return to the long-neglected bliss of rewriting that fantasy novel and bringing out what I pray will be the story it was meant to tell.

When people began trying to equate his stories of Middle Earth with contemporary events or themes or hot button topics, Tolkien bristled at the notion that he was writing commentary. He was fine with applicability, but current events were not the point. Tolkien had what he described as a cordial dislike for allegory. “I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers.”

That’s largely my perspective as well. He weaved together this world of Elves and Hobbits and noble Men, and made his stories about the characters and their situations. Not about “the dangers of power” or “relationships” or “self-sacrifice” or the other themes some writers will obsess over. Fiction loses something important when it angsts more about theme/meaning than what its particular characters go through. You can’t quite escape from this world when that happens. Fiction loses its intended illusion of reality.

Perhaps I’m too sensitive, but the fact is my jaw sets, and my enthusiasm and imagination begin to shrivel, when fellow readers and writers spend more time discussing the “themes” or “meaning” of a story than they do discussing the tale itself. I had far too much of that in college, where nearly every professor read ideologies into the text, coldly dissecting it and scrutinizing it like a crowd of microbes in a petri dish.

And then I fell into the creative deathtrap again with too much time on my hands after graduation, taking to the blogosphere and reading deconstructions of movies that only served to rob my enjoyment of the movies themselves. I got fixated on the themes and elements and meanings and cinematography techniques when I wanted to focus on the story. Maybe it’s a side effect of ADD. I don’t know.

Thank God this doesn’t happen to everyone, however! One of my friends told me about how this same practice of dissection and examination can enrich his enjoyment of a story. And more power to him for that!

Being a writer, I still have the responsibility to study the craft of storytelling, and knowing how to tell good tales in satisfying ways. For some reason I enjoy that part of the process.

When I’m learning how to improve my own stories, and when my reading of fiction is done not to scrutinize but to enjoy, I get inspired rather than frustrated. That diminished capacity for joy begins to regain its life and color, and its roots plunge deeper. That frame of mind reminds me how much I love creating new worlds and characters.

Don’t ignore the components of a great story, though. If you are a writer, don’t skimp on technique or think that inspiration is all you need. That’s not what I mean to convey. I only mean to say this: Don’t forget the joy of escaping into another world and making new friends through the pages of a book.

Posted by: johnkpatterson | March 16, 2014

Godzilla’s Back

The greatest blockbuster movies do three things: They go big, they go loud, and they take their subject matter seriously.

This new Godzilla movie looks like it’s going to accomplish all three in monumental fashion. I grew up with cheesy old Godzilla movies, and actually enjoyed the 1998 movie (Jean Reno helped improve the experience a lot). But this time, it looks like Godzilla has grown up, in more ways than one. The radioactive dinosaur is bigger than he’s ever been, and apparently doing battle with two other monsters.

One word: Imax.

Posted by: johnkpatterson | March 14, 2014

New Paintings, and I Got Interviewed!

"Budding for Spring." 4 x 6 inches.

“Budding for Spring.” 4 x 6 inches. Done as a birthday present for my wonderful mom.

Good morning everyone! I have a couple of new acrylic paintings to share. Sorry I haven’t gotten much writing done, but that’s changing this afternoon, God willing. There’s stories to be finished in them there hills.

In other news, I got interviewed about my artwork by the New Falcon Herald, a local newspaper. The article should appear in their April edition. It was a very welcome surprise, and will hopefully lead to more commissions. Might even be able to support myself with the artwork, sooner or later!

"Sentry." 4 x 6 inches

“Sentry.” 4 x 6 inches. Donated to Crosses for Losses.

I am also working on a fourth science fiction story for Amazon Kindle. It’ll be the fourth episode of the Arrivers series, which is made up of the three stories on my Author’s Page now.

Happy Friday everyone!

Posted by: johnkpatterson | February 14, 2014

The two steps to getting 30 million hits on your blog

johnkpatterson:

This advice can certainly be applied to other creative endeavors that carry a reputation of being “less than lucrative.” Make something of quality, and plan to be successful.

Originally posted on The Matt Walsh Blog:

In just a few days, this website will pass the 30 million view threshold.

Since its inception in November of 2012, my blog has officially been read (almost) 30 million times – with about 29,800,000 of those hits coming in the last 6 months or so.

Everything has changed because of the success of this endeavor. Through the revenue from the modest bit of advertising I do on this site, coupled with the folks who generously donate to help keep the ship afloat, I’ve been able to leave my job, move back home to Maryland, and concentrate on writing full-time.

In the last six months, I’ve been republished by several major news publications, invited on TV shows, asked to speak at banquets and graduation ceremonies, approached by book publishers, and presented with other kinds of exciting opportunities (that I have to vague about, for the time being).

I thought about what I should do to…

View original 1,183 more words

Posted by: johnkpatterson | January 31, 2014

Paintings: Dinosaur Sunsets

There’s a series of paintings I’ve started to create, and would like to make more of. “Dinosaur Sunsets” has four works done so far, and there seems to be a lot of excitement about them. So as long as I can find dinosaurs with nice silhouettes, I’ll keep making them and hopefully selling them to anyone who’d like to have one on their wall.

All of these are done with acrylics on tiny square canvases, 2.75 inches to a side.

Here's "Primal Colorado" again. The very first one.

Here’s “Primal Colorado” again. The very first one. It’s a Stegosaurus, of course — the Colorado State Fossil.

"Hungry."

“Hungry.” Brachiosaurus.

"Disagreement." Tyrannosaurs.

“Disagreement.” Tyrannosaurs.

"Mother." Triceratops.

“Mother.” Triceratops.

Thank you again for looking. Have a blessed day!

Posted by: johnkpatterson | January 31, 2014

Additional Paintings: Landscapes

Greetings, everyone. I haven’t been doing as much writing as I’d like, but there are more paintings I have done. People have even started giving me paid commissions. Commissions!

Six months ago, if you told me I’d be getting commissions for paintings, I wouldn’t have found it the least bit believable. Life seems rather full of surprises like that. By the way, if you’d like to commission a painting, my email address is to the right.

Here are some of the landscape paintings I’ve done these past few months. All of my paintings so far have been done with acrylics.

"Fourteeners." 8 x 10 inches.

“Fourteeners.” 8 x 10 inches.

"Sturdy." 4 x 6 inches.

“Sturdy.” 4 x 6 inches.

"Colorado Dawn." 2.75 inches square.

“Colorado Dawn.” 2.75 inches square.

Untitled. 2.75 inches square.

Untitled. 2.75 inches square.

A miniature version of "Fourteeners." 4 x 6 inches.

A miniature version of “Fourteeners.” 4 x 6 inches.

"Lakeside." 4 x 5 inches.

“Lakeside.” 4 x 5 inches.

"Rocky Mountain Retreat." 4 x 6 inches.

“Rocky Mountain Retreat.” 4 x 6 inches.

This last one, “Wild Colorado,” is being auctioned off for Crosses for Losses. They are an organization that’s doing incredible work to support Black Forest, Colorado after the fires last June.

"Wild Colorado." 4 x 6 inches.

“Wild Colorado.” 4 x 6 inches.

Thank you very much for your time, everyone. The writing is getting back on track, slowly but surely. Take care!

Posted by: johnkpatterson | January 12, 2014

Climb

Another weekend, another painting done. “Climb.” Acrylics on watercolor paper, 4 x 6 inches.

This one took about 6 hours to make.

This one took about 6 hours to make.

The two figures at bottom right are Kedil Ahmlen (left) and Sathra Wolfglen (right), two characters from my books. I might find a place to put this scene.

The slope climbed up and up, bordered by steep ridges that protruded like harsh granite ribs around the mountain’s belly. Snow swept back and forth between the ridges in a white river. Nearer to them, the occasional pine tree poked up from the frozen plain. Perfect place to get caught in an avalanche, Sathra thought.

A blue guard tower that must have stood a hundred feet high rose against the nearest fold of rock, a lighthouse about to be toppled by a brutal wave. Every window was alight, and Sathra entertained the fantasy of stopping for the night. She shivered in her cloak, colder for tempting herself.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Kedil said, drawing her own cloak closed with a shaking hand. “We cannot stop. Tonight, we must climb.”

Copyright, of course, belongs to me.

Posted by: johnkpatterson | January 8, 2014

If Bob Ross Visited Jurassic Park…

The result might look something like this. “Evening Drink,” acrylic on black mat board, 8 x 10 inches.

The dinosaur is a Parasaurolophus, a duckbill or "Hadrosaur" from North America.

The dinosaur is a Parasaurolophus, a duckbill or “Hadrosaur” from North America.

Obviously I don’t mean I can paint half as good as Ross. That would take several lifetimes and a lot more patience. It’s just the kind of style he often did in his paintings, with a diluted light source, trees, and a waterfall. Ross would probably hide behind the happy little trees when the happy little Velociraptors broke loose.

Forgive me for disappearing for such a long while and not having much to contribute. I have managed to get some more paintings finished and shared with other people. This is the painting I am most satisfied with, so I wanted to share it with you (and I’ve spammed Facebook with it enough).

Anyway, I will be returning to this blog when possible. Instead of ruffling more feathers than I already have, I’m going back to basics: share my writing and paintings, and talk with all of you. It’s been a roller coaster year for me, but let’s see if we can get this blog back on track. Thank you all for your patience, and may God bless your new year with incomparable riches.

Posted by: johnkpatterson | December 27, 2013

Shared Thoughts on Privilege and Political Correctness

I’m still using this blog. Sorry I haven’t posted lately. I’ve also been writing a few things for Bubblews. A hard-to-pronounce name, I know. So lately, I’ve been blowing off some steam (and still trying to be nice about it) regarding the political correctness-style bullying I was subjected to a short while back. Wanted to rant here, but I’d just be repeating the things I’ve already written. I’ll just offer the links, if you’re interested. On Privilege, the Racebending Incident, and the fact that “sensitivity” has nothing over manners.

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and happy New Year!

And if Foz Meadows and/or anyone at Racebending actually reads this: I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, too. May your next year be full of joy, wisdom, and many more smiles than frowns.

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