Sunday, January 29, 2012

Want to Pre-Read The War Horn? Read This Post!

There comes a time where a writer gets so familiar with his work that he can no longer detect what mistakes may remain.  You can always keep revising, but the work in question will never be perfect.  Novels that are actually published aren't perfect, they're mostly perfect.

With The War Horn, I've done all the editing that I can do.  The final revision is finished.

So what do you do?

You get pre-readers to read the work in question.

And, my blog readers, those pre-readers are you, and this work in question is The War Horn.

Yes, readers, your wildest dreams have come true. (At least, I hope that this is your wildest dream. O_o) This post is the "READ THE WAR HORN FOR FREE!" post.

This'll be very simple.  There will be five lucky people who get to pre-read The War Horn.  However, before I go on to explain how these five lucky people shall be chosen, I need you to read something.  In order to pre-read The War Horn, you need to be able and willing to do three things:

First, you need to be able to read the War Horn within two weeks, if not sooner.  The War Horn is just over 110 pages print length, a quick and easy read, so this shouldn't prove to be any trouble for you.

Second, if you have any feedback whatsoever, please send it to me.  If you see a typo or an inconsistency or a passage that just strikes you as awkward, let me know.  This is the last polish before The War Horn is put for sale, so it's important. (This doesn't mean that you should do an in-depth critique.)

Third, if you liked the book, please write a paragraph of one hundred words or less telling why you liked the book, and send it to me in an email. This will be the equivalent of an "endorsement" and will go in the front of the book, along with your name or alias.  (If you're willing, you can also put your age in the endorsement, and your blog address, if you have one, but those are both optional.)

By participating in this pre-reading contest, you agree that you are able and willing to do the above.

Now, what do the readers get out of it?  You will, of course, get to read my novel before everyone else, and get your name in the front of the book with your endorsement.  Like I said before, the endorsement bit is only if you liked the book.  In addition, I'll mention all of the pre-readers - whether or not you actually liked the book - in the acknowledgments.

Here's how you can get your name in the hat:

Comment below (or email me) and tell me you want to pre-read The War Horn.  Include your email in the comment, or, if you're not comfortable with that, send it to me in an email.  That's it.  If you want to earn an extra "entry" in the hat, you can blog about it.  Send me the URL either through a comment or an email to validate your entry.

If you have a preference for format, let me know in the comment section while you're entering.  I can send it to the winners in either .doc, .pdf, or .prc format. (PRC is Kindle's format.  If you have a Kindle, all you have to do is hook it up to the computer and copy-and-paste the file.  You can then read it on your Kindle.) If you don't specify a format, I'll send it in .doc.

The contest starts right now and will close next Friday, on the 3rd of February.  Once the contest closes, I'm going to literally draw five names out of a hat. If you win, I'll email you a copy of The War Horn in your format of choice, as well as write a short blog post announcing the winners.

Let it begin!  Allons-y!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Back—In Blue

I'm back, but not in black. I'm wearing a faded blue Kansas shirt. (Faded because my poor *snif* Kansas shirts are slowly deteriorating. That's your cue, Darth Vader: "NOOOOOOOOOO!")

And guess what? It's another update. Not quite as exciting as something like "GET A FREE COPY OF THE WAR HORN!" (although that's coming soon, muahahaha!). However, I hope it proves to be informative, if not entertaining.

Right now, I'm still hard at work with The War Horn.

You see, I lost a day this past week, and I still can't figure it out. All of a sudden, it was Friday, and I didn't even know what had happened. I seriously thought it was Thursday. So that meant that schoolwork went in Blue Overdrive mode and also produced a vial of Stop Writer's Cramp because of some weird chemical reaction. Go figure.

See, that's much more interesting than "I was busy with school so I couldn't revise", wasn't it?

However, sources tell me that I said to my parents, "The War Horn will be finished on Sunday!" so we'll see what happens. If that's true, then the "GET A FREE COPY OF THE WAR HORN" post will be coming soon to a blog near you.

For a more serious update, here's a post-within-the-post in reply to some comments made on my previous post.

Firstly, I do eat one meal a day. And now I can't think of eating three meals a day. Meh. (And, while I'm on that thought, I find it funny that people say "How can you survive on one meal a day?", because it's perfectly normal here.) It's a wonder I didn't swell up and roll around like a soccer ball. Or football, as the locals call it. I think I'll forever eat this much in times to come. In all seriousness, though, our entire family is a lot healthier than we were two months ago because of our change in diet.

However, the conditions we live in are not as healthy. It's almost crazy, what's been happening. My sister, when we first arrived, had an extremely minor case of typhoid. But that was just the beginning, and it centers mostly on our pets. Every single one of our pets has had some sort of accident or sickness that could have proven fatal, or did.

So here it is: we got a dog, it died; we got a mongoose and it temporarily paralyzed itself and couldn't walk for a week; we got two more dogs, and they both died of roundworm; we got another dog, and it got bit by a dog that might have had rabies and is now quarantined; and we got a cat that jumped off a top bunk and had a seizure so bad that we thought it was going to die. It did, however, recover, and continues to attack us in the middle of the night. (There's a reason she's named Ninja.)

That is, in brief summary, some of the weird happenings.

But I digress: back to the questions.

Concerning life-or-death situations...well, I don't think so. We've had some situations that were tense and could have been dangerous (a drunk guy yelling at us, men smoking drugs nearby, a supposed plot to steal our welder), but I have yet to have a life-or-death encounter.

Belly-laugh? Nothing that stands out, although there are little family-related jokes here and there. :) There was that one time that some children were yelling "Chinese man!" at us, peppering it with "Ching change gong gong!". One white person is the same as another, I suppose. ;)

Similarly, I was driving one time with another white person once who had lived here for quite a while, and had married a Liberian. When we passed a group of white people, he leaned out the car window and shouted "White man! White man!" in Liberian English at them. They didn't even look up.

Something that normally wouldn't happen at home? Everything. Heh, it's such a large category. We go to an outdoor market for much of our food, we walk most everywhere we go (or catch a taxi), all of the children wave at us when we pass (oftentimes saying "White man!"); the list goes on. Anything more specific? XD

Oh, and we all (probably) had worms. :P That was fun. Dewormer is cheap here, thankfully. And I think my entire family is just waiting for me to come down with malaria. The mosquitoes like me too much.

As far as I know, there are no elephants. Liberian "bush" is basically a sub-Saharan jungle. There are, however, monkeys, mongooses, genets, various kinds of birds, lizards, and other fauna.

Cassava is one of my favorite Liberian foods. It's a leafy vegetable: cut up, and put with peppers and onions and garlic, and then mixed with the meat and cooked. It has a dark green look to it and is rather oily. (In fact, the first Liberian dish that I ever had was cassava with goat. It was in America, months before I came here, and I thought it rather weird.) I have not, however, heard of it being in cake. O_o

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! I've got a storehouse of information in my noggin. I haven't even scratched the surface of my life here. Which is why I have trouble writing coherent blog posts. ;)

As for me, folks, I think I'm going to go swimming soon. :D

Au revior!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Reports of My Death Are Assuredly False

Well, it's been a sight longer than I expected, folks. I've so many stories to tell that it would take ages to recite them: so I'll settle for a few scattered tales to update my dear blog readers. Pre-written blog posts are great, eh?

First of all, I am alive.

Second, I'm in the midst of my final revision of the War Horn. Be prepared for a post about pre-readers soon!

Third, I'm doing One Year Adventure Novel again, with my sister. This time, it's a fantasy. I've got some epic ideas for it. Here's the preliminary synopsis:

"Elijah Finarod. Once, he was the pride of his people. Now he's imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit and haunted by the one he did. A bloody war is raging across his world, and Elijah is unexpectedly freed to seek a way to end an ancient curse, the only hope they have of stopping the war. But he's being pursued by unknown assassins and he's being hunted by his own people. Nevertheless, Elijah is determined to stop the war at any cost. For Elijah Finarod started the war, and now he was going to end it."

Fourth, I've never been so grateful for chicken and beef. For the first two weeks we were in this house, we ate fish and nothing but fish. (The fish was in the sauce over rice, of course...not fish plain. That would be a nightmare.) And did I mention that I abhor fish?

Fifth, I wrote out a genealogy of the House of Finwë from Tolkien's "The Silmarillion". Go figure. (Finwë fathered Fingolfin, who fathered Turgon, who had a daughter who was named Idril who married a mortal named Tuor, and they had a son called Eärendil and he married the half-mortal-quarter-elf-quarter-Maia Elwing and they had two sons, Elrond and Elros...) And yes, "Finarod" in the synopsis above is a nod to Tolkien's characters "Finarfin" and "Finrod".

And last, I miss all you crazy and wonderful writers. ^_^ You're all awesome.

That is all.

*ahem* Kidding! Considering the time I have with no internet to waste my time on (actually, between revisions and school being renewed once more, it's not that much), I ought to write something a bit longer, eh?

Here are a few notes that I've composed concerning life in Liberia. However, I'm not even sure what you all want to shoot me a few questions in the comment section, and I'll write another blog post in response. Fair?

Concerning FOOD:

The fundamental elements of food are thus: rice, sauce, meat. The meat is in the sauce (or soup, sometimes), and it is poured over rice. That's Liberian food in essence. The sauce may include something like palm nuts, potato greens, cassava, etc. The meats include goat, beef, chicken, and fish. And maybe lamb, but I have yet to eat lamb here. And the food always has peppers in it.

My favorite is "pepper soup", followed closely by cassava. Pepper soup is, essentially, a soup with some sort of tomato sauce base, with a meat and lots of peppers in a broth; sometimes over twenty peppers in that soup alone. As I said on Facebook the other day, "IT BURNS US!" (To give you an idea of the heat of the little Liberian pepper, it is ranked the same on the "heat" scale as the habenaro pepper.)


The place where we live, as I have described elsewhere, is a concrete building with tile floors, and you can only reach it by crossing a wooden monkey bridge across a freshwater lagoon. It's a moment's walk from the beach: you can look out the window and see the sea along the horizon. This means that we get a sea breeze during the day and night, which is phenomenal. The windows are always open to let in the breeze, and in the shade, it's not actually that hot. Sitting in the sun is another matter.

Right now, we're in the dry season. It hasn't really rained for weeks, and the weather is steadily, degree by degree, climbing upward. I have no idea what the temperature really is, however, save that it's somewhere over ninety every day; that was the temperature three weeks ago.


This is a fairly big category. Below, I shall list the changes that have taken place in general life.

Firstly, we don't have running water. We have to go out and manually pump all the water we use. So that means I use a dipper, half a bucket of water, and some shampoo when I get grimy enough to take a shower. We have plans to dig a well, however, and use an electric pump to pump water to a mini water tower, which provides the pressure we need for running water.

Second, our meals have decreased. We now dine in what we think is a typical Liberian manner: one meal a day, commonly in the afternoon. If we get hungry later on in the evening, we eat a small plate of leftovers from dinner. In the mornings, we eat fruit, and, some days, popcorn.

We've also learned to conserve electricity and computer charge. Because we need our computers for school, we turn on the gas-run generator most nights, which gives us electricity to charge electronics and run certain things. We do, however, have some solar power. We recently received a fridge/freezer that runs on solar power, and half the lights in the house - one in each room - run on solar power.

Most Sundays, we've had house church instead of going to church. We dig out a few hymnbooks we brought with us from America and sing hymns, afterward praying and then studying some Scripture.

Concerning PETS:

Inevitably, we've gotten pets. You've probably already heard of our mongoose, Mae. Or Minkey, as my sister calls her. She's extremely accident-prone, so much so that she seems to be disabled. Three of her four legs don't support her very well, and we're not entirely sure why. However, she did hit her head some days earlier and it swelled up; afterwards going down again. We think this might be the issue, some sort of damage to the brain. Right now, though, she's still eating and drinking and going to the bathroom on our beds, so that's a good sign, and her legs still retain movement.

So far, we've had four dogs. The first one (whom we named "Jax mi Dog" after the "Jax mi Katt" character in Jill Williamson's epic trilogy) died after a week, contracting some sort of illness. We buried him beneath a palm tree. Several days later, we got another puppy, whom we called Pippin. He's a typical Liberian mutt. We made sure he got shots, and right now he's a troublemaker in good health.

We also got two German pointer mix puppies from an American family. Their mother is huge and scary, so we're hoping that these two puppies - "Stan" and "Valli" after two West African missionaries we knew in Kansas - will grow up likewise.

You see, dogs in Liberia are not only pets (and to Liberians, they aren't really pets at all), they're guards. They're as good or better than a security guard, especially the big dogs. I've witnessed it myself: the mother of our German pointer puppies scared the pants off of one of our Liberian friends.

And lastly, we got a grey kitten who enjoys exploring my bed and playing with my shirt while I'm trying to sleep. We mostly got her to make sure the mouse/rat population stays down. At least, that's why Mom and Dad got her.

Concerning LIFE:

Get up. Do school. Eat dinner. Revise/do OYAN. Go to bed.

That's life right now. Pretty interesting, eh?

So, how are you all doing? How's the writing? How's life in general?

And if you have any questions, ask away. I'd be happy to answer them...but don't expect to get an answer right away. I have over four hundred unread emails, and the only internet I get is from a USB internet stick that's slow as molasses. And I rarely use it, anyhow.

Farewell, write well, and stay out of the heat!


Never mind.