The ramblings and musings of author and musician Geoffrey Young Haney.
Much more coherent and loveable fare from his wife, Michelle.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Baby On Board!

On December 26th, 2011, at 6:11pm, Nolan Sirius Haney entered the world. Weighing in at 7 lbs, 6 oz with a vertical of 20 in, this all-star took only about 3 good contractions to make his presence known... that was after 11 hours of labor (some at home, some at the hospital) and a solid 5 hours or so of pretty intense back labor, a slow-to-get-going epidural (which did finally kick in... just in time,) and a brave - albeit puking - rock star of a Mom. Both Michelle and Nolan are doing well. Nolan's been bathed up, is eating great, and is sleeping it all off. Looking forward to visitors today and for Carter (our oldest boy) to come visit here in a bit. So thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers and kind words over Facebook and phone calls and texts and the like. Our friends and family are a true blessing and we look forward to sharing more momentous occasions with all of you!

Until then, I leave you with the Nolan...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Nolan Sirius Haney

So admittedly I've been pretty neglectful of this blog. One thing that's kept me busy has been work. Since Thanksgiving weekend I've been working 10 hr days and Saturdays, logging lots of extra hours in my cold, cold (though not as cold as previous years, thank God) warehouse. But the OT is a wonderfully blessing because Michelle and I have been expecting our second child, a boy, Nolan Sirius Haney (nerd name - poor kid.) And of course, whenever a new member is added to the family, the overtime checks are a seriously welcomed. So that's been our December; lots of work and preparation and holiday fun, all spent waiting for Nolan.

Well, the waiting is over! We are currently at Holland Hospital waiting for our little man to arrive. Michelle is wandering the halls with her cousin Emily in hopes of keeping dilation on track. She really wants to do this naturally. She was SO close with Carter, but total exhaustion and some terrible back labor forced her to get an epidural at the last minute. Michelle is more afraid of needles, however, than of birthing pains, so she's hoping to spare her spine this time.

So as we did with Carter, I will post a few updates here so family and friends can meet digital Nolan, and we can have a permanent record of this monumental day! Please keep my family in your prayers.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Book Review: Stephen King's The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower 1)

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)The Gunslinger by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stephen King is one of those authors I've loved since I was a young teen (I even visited his house during one summer vacation.) However, being a young teen with a short attention span - and King having the tendency to pen some rather thick tomes - I never finished any King novel I started. Pet Cemetery; Gerald's Game; It. I even wrote an 11 page book report on Cujo my freshman year... having not read the entire thing. So King and I go way back, sorta. We've shared some good, albeit truncated, times.

Well, I have finally got around to finishing my first King novel; the trick was apparently that I needed an audio book. The Gunslinger introduces us to Roland Deschain, the titular Gunslinger, as he traverses a barren desert in search of Man in Black, a shrouded and intriguing antagonist with God-like abilities to possess the minds of people and even raise the dead. Along the way, Roland meets a young boy, Jake Chambers, whose strange past causes Roland to think heavily about the world he lives in, and whose companionship is just another woeful test set forth by the torturous Man in Black.

The Gunslinger is a somewhat disjointed narrative - a Fear-and-Loathing-esque head-trip - one that jumps from present to flashback to alternated reality. But for me this form does a good job at putting us in Roland's own disoriented mind. King's description are spot on without being insensate wordy and his characterization is excellent. All in all I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed my trek through Mid-World, and narrator George Guidall was a fitting and entertaining companion. I look forward to continuing the journey.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Neverending Story

No, this post isn't about the awesome 1984 flick that shaped a chunk of my childhood. But I will point to another monumentally influential film as an example of what I fear.

Embracing of technology as I am, I am afraid of the never-ending story.

Case in point: Star Wars.

By now you Star Whores (see what I did there?) may know that the interwebs were all abuzz with last week's revelation that George Lucas has yet again gone back and tinkered with his films in preparation for the up-coming Blu Ray release, adding pointless things like Vader yelling "Nooooo!" when he tosses the Emperor into a flashing, high-voltage, God-knows-what abyss at the end of Jedi, or the cringe-inducing oddness of giving Wicket freaky digital eyelids. (I'm not joking... but I wish I was...)

Now maybe old George is just the poster child of the compulsive self-editor who can't help but go back and tread the same waters over and over again looking to tweak crap until he's simply doing it just for the sake of tweaking. But it's not out of the question to think that, in the age of e-readers, books could fall victim to the same sort of non-completion. Get a couple of cranky reviews on a book, pull it down, tweak it, and set it up again for new scrutiny. We're already encouraged to change a cover if your books not selling, even though there's hardly proof the cover has anything to do with it.

So the question is: is anything ever done?

When Hollywood remakes, reboots, and reissues any story you could ever think of, tacks on franchise tags and sequels to even the most inane of properties, and dishes up rehashes of the same stuff on multiple DVD editions and "director's cuts," its hard not to wonder if in the age of the digital books publishing couldn't fall into those same traps. I'm not saying it will happen, I just wouldn't be shocked if it did.

This may not seem like a big deal to some people, but I miss the idea of a finished product. Its there on paper (or screen) in all its glory or failure for generations to marvel at. When its done, its done, and let the chips fall where they may. I think its unfortunately to have a "Lucas" mentality, where everything is subject to alterations no matter what the original incarnation of your work looked like. I mean, honestly, Star Wars SHAPED A GENERATION! If Lucas can't stop messing with a classic, what's to stop us from rewriting until the end of time that little indie book that's not selling so great, when instead we should be moving on to the next project.

Maybe its just me, but I like things set in stone. I like a story being cover to cover or first reel to last reel and letting that work be judged on its own singular merits. I miss endings.

So put a fork in it, Lucas; that goose is cooked. Go find a new dish to serve up.

(And honestly, if you're going to go back and change anything, could you maybe hop in the DeLorean and go un-imagine Episodes 1-3? At the very least shoot the casting director in the face for their Anakin choices. Something? Anything? Please???)


Oh well. Until next time nerds.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's All In The Execution

or: Finding Your Sparkle

Let's play a little game, shall we? It's called Fill-In-The-Blanks. Here is a simple yet accurate synopsis of a novel. I'll give you a hint (SPOILERS!) its epic fantasy. Shhh... don't tell.

___ ______ follows the journey of the title character _____ ______, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost _____ Kingdom of ______, which was long ago conquered by the dragon _____. Approached out the blue by the wizard _______ ___ ____, _____ finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior ______ ___________. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with _______ and ____, deadly _____ and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.

Ooo, that was fun. Shall we play again? Okay!

_____, a young farm boy, finds a marvelous blue stone in a mystical mountain place. Before he can trade it for food to get his family through the hard winter, it hatches a beautiful sapphire-blue dragon, a race thought to be extinct. ______ bonds with the dragon, and when his family is killed by the marauding _____, he discovers that he is the last of the ______ ______, fated to play a decisive part in the coming war between the human but hidden ______, dwarves, elves, the diabolical ______ and their neanderthal _______, all pitted against and allied with each other and the evil King __________. ______ and his dragon _______ set out to find their role, growing in magic power and understanding of the complex political situation as they endure perilous travels and sudden battles, dire wounds, capture and escape.

Do you see a pattern? Dwarves... dragons... unexpected journeys and unavoidable battles... Let's try one more from the fantasy realm. It's an easy one.

_____ ______ and the ____________ _____ is the first novel in the _____ ______ series written by __ _______ and featuring _____ ______, a young wizard. It describes how _____ discovers he is a wizard, makes close friends and a few enemies at the ________ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and with the help of his friends thwarts an attempted comeback by the evil wizard Lord _________, who killed _____'s parents when _____ was one year old.

Okay, so I left a big give-away in that one, as if it wasn't obvious enough. Mainly, I grew sick of typing blanks and "School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" is a lot of ____ing blanks. I'm sure you scored an A+ on my little test, crafty readers. In case not, what you read were descriptions of The Hobbit, Eragon, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a few fantasy books that found minor success in the last century...

So what are you trying to say, Geoff? That fantasy is dead? That's its all the same derivative crap it has been since Tolkien stuck a robe on a bearded old dude and called him a wizard? I've been saying that for years. That's why I don't read it.

Well, A: If you don't read fantasy, why are at my blog? I mean, thanks for stopping by and all, but fantastic realms are kind of my lifeblood. And B: It's not just fantasy. You could take any genre and play this game. Try it! It's especially fun with paranormal romance. That falls generally along the lines of "Misunderstood Blank meets mysterious and brooding Blank who turns out to be a Blank and Blank can't really tell if Blank wants to hump Blank or eat Blank." That is not meant to be disparaging to the genre. Certainly it's not my thing, but fantasy is, and I can point out its tried and true tropes with complete acceptance of their oft-maligned place in literature as a whole. The Hero Quest. The Whatever of Prophecy. The Chosen One. The Dark Lord. The Wise Interloper. The Gruff Hero With The Shady Past. The Grand Battle. The Lost or Stolen Object. Most of these things - in some form or another - find their way into my own fantasy writing. Its sort of part of the territory. For better or worse, the tropes have become part of the cannon; what has come before has set the bar for what comes after.

So does this mean, as authors, that we stop writing? Certainly not. It is true that there are only so many tales to tell, only so many elements that build a successful story of any genre. But there are infinite ways to tell a story, and every author has within them a voice that was hand-selected to tell the story in that way.

Have you ever heard a comedian tell a really great joke and then you try to repeat it to your friends and it falls flat? It's not the joke. It's you. Your voice didn't write that joke; the Muse didn't give that riff to you. It belongs to someone else. Could anyone have put those words together? Sure. Most of us can string letters into words and sentences and speak them aloud with our tongues and teeth (or hands.) But just because you're saying the same joke doesn't mean that its the same joke. See my point? The comedian told it, in their specific way, and that's why it worked.

So, friends, if you find that you have a great story but it looks tragically like the descriptions above - it lies flat on the page - then you haven't found your voice. You haven't found that thing that makes your book sparkle (Twilight pun intended;) that makes your words and sentences stand out from the crowd. After four years of plugging away at this writing thing, focused on one large story - with little vacations into other worlds and tropes and genres - I think I can safely say that I've found my sparkle. But it took a lot of practice, a lot of knowing what's been done before, and a lot of thinking about staying true to what people know while (hopefully) giving them something they never see coming.

As my music theory teacher used to say, you have to learn the rules of music in order to break them, making the song your own. I'd say that applies here, especially with genre writing where the roads can too often seem weathered. Just respect the shoulders of the giants that you stand on and don't be afraid to tread a few new paths.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Harry Potter: A History

I honestly couldn't tell you, without looking it up, when the first Harry Potter ("The Sorcerer's Stone") was released as a novel. I also couldn't tell you when Warner Brothers got the rights and released it as a movie. The most I knew about the Harry Potter books was that they were banned from Zeeland Public Schools because of it's “witch crafty” influences. My only interactions with Harry Potter was that I once attended a friend of mine's sisters birthday party, in which she had a rather strange box of Jelly Bellys. After tasting an unfortunate ear wax flavored “Jelly Belly,” I was later told that they were a replica of Harry Potter's “Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans.” Delicious. I also attended another party a few years later where everyone wanted to watch the first film of Harry Potter, and I wanted nothing to do with it. That was sometime in high school. My family and best friend thought I was crazy for not even wanting to give Potter a chance, due to my love of fantasy/adventure books and films. I am just one of those people who HATE following whatever is popular, and at the time it was the Harry Potter series.

It wasn't until the Fall of 2005 that I finally caved in and was “forced” into watching the first film with my sister and best friend. Thank God for that day, and thank God for my sister for not only bringing along the first film, but two and three as well. So in one day we watched, “The Sorcerer's Stone,” “The Chamber of Secrets,” and “The Prisoner of Azkaban.” I was also fortunate enough for the 4th installment of Harry Potter to be in the theater around the same time. My mom took me to see “The Goblet of Fire,” my first Potter experience in the theater.

After that night I made a decision that has given me more grief than anyone will ever know. I decided to see all the movies before reading the next book. So, having seen movies 1- 4, I borrowed books 1- 4 from my mom although she had 5 and 6 at the time as well. Then I waited for the 5th movie to be released (“The Order Of The Phoenix”), watched it and immediately read the book. I waited for the 6th movie to be released (“The Half Blood Prince”), watched it and immediately read the book. And finally, the epic conclusion “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part I” was released in November of 2010. I was so upset to hear that the book was being split into two movies! I reminded myself that Book 7 had been released since July of 2007, that I could wait a while longer. I have waited on tenterhooks for 4 years to know what was to happen to Harry Potter and all of his beloved companions, I could wait 7 more months for the REAL conclusion. And finally, on July 15, 2011 I found out Part II of “The Deathly Hallows” was going to be released. I wasn't able to get to the midnight showing, but two days later on July 17, I was able to see what would happen to my dear Mr. Potter.

I don't think I have been more exhausted after watching a movie in my life.

I couldn't tell you when I started crying or when I stopped crying. All I know is that I composed myself enough before the lights came on all the way, and held it together until I got home. Then, I let it all out. I have seriously never cried so hard over a movie in my life.

Why I did cry, you may ask? For “spoiler purposes” I will not reveal anything to those you have not seen it or may be interested in seeing it. However, I will say this. I cried not just for the tragedy that takes place, but for the shear fact that it is over. Never again will a Harry Potter movie be made. This is it.

However, this wasn't just a movie to me. This was a story. A story about bravery, friendship, magic, miracles, love, adventure, laughter, fun, mischief, etc, etc. I grew up with Harry Potter, with Hermonie Granger, with Ron Weasley. I was there through everything. When they were hurt, when they were in trouble... I felt like Bastian in “The Never Ending Story,” like I was really there. I felt like that not only when I read the books, but when I watched the movies as well. I was a part of this story. However I wasn't just a part of the story in my mind, but a part of it in the wordly sense as well. All of the stories I have ever loved, I grew up with. To name a few: “Willow,” “Star Wars,” “Legend,” “The Goonies,” “The Lord of The Rings,” “The Princess Bride,” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” But these epic stories were all before my time. But Potter. This, this was something almost tangible. Here and now, in my time. Something that I was physically a part of.

I am a dreamer. Therefore, stories about fantasy will always have the dearest, most special place in my heart. I wish with all of me that magic existed, that Narnia existed. My idea of heaven is where our dreams become reality. My favorite quote from Harry Potter was one just spoken in this last film. Albus says to Harry in response to his question (Harry) “Is this happening in my head?” (Albus) “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it's not real?” That is exactly how I feel. When I read Potter, it all seems so real. And the truth is … I want to ride a Unicorn and a dragon. I want to fence, learn archery and use it for a purpose. I want to be a Jedi and learn the ways of the force. My goal is to one day design and build my own house. One that is filled with secret passageways, with book shelf's that reveal a room behind it. I want a moat, with a drawbridge. I am serious here folks.

I guess the thing that saddens me the most in life is that all of these wonderful things that we can create in our heads, make into compelling novels and into mind boggling movies are not real. None of it.

However, if we had all of those things, we would never know what we are missing.

Going back to Harry Potter...

I truly feel that J.K. Rowling is the best writer of our generation. She has inspired more people than anyone I personally know. She's been the “C.S. Lewis” or “J.R.R. Tolkien” of our generation. And I love her for it.

So, thank you J.K. Rowling for allowing us to be a part of a world that we will never forget. We will love it, share it, and cherish it. It will live on for all time.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sing It Loud Saturdays: Alkaline Trio [acoustic edition]

Sing It Loud Saturdays is a "weekly" feature here at Creating Life that will introduce you to bands, songs, albums, and artists who I really dig. Some of them you may have heard of, many you will not have.

This week's featured group is: Alkaline Trio

Click here to check out an acoustic version of their song "Every Thug Needs a Lady," originally heard on the band's 2003 release Good Mourning.

And don't forget to check out last time's featured artist, Butch Walker and The Black Widows

Book Review: Aaron Polson's The House Eaters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading (and loving) Polson's March 2011 offering, We Are The Monsters, I knew I had to find something else by this author to read.

The House Eaters did not disappoint. Though, for me, not as chilling and atmospheric as We Are The Monsters, The House Eaters showcases well Polson's gift for capturing a teen voice and for brisk and entertaining YA horror fiction that also happens to be tasteful and well-written.

The House Eaters is set in Broughton's Hollow, a blip-on-a-map nowhere Kansas town. Nick Gillingham and his family move to the Hollow after Nick's mother loses her job and his father takes a position at Springdale High. (One of Polson's popular stomping grounds, the school is featured in three of his books I've read thus far.)

What transpires after that is a classic ghost story, a tale filled with wonderful characters we want to root for. With a few mysteries thrown in for good measure - most of which involve Nick's own family even more so, it would seem, than the creepy old neighborhood home where our haunter resides, The House Eaters is a satisfying read.

What I enjoyed a lot about the tail was the pacing. The curtain over Nick's troubled family is slowly pulled back as the story progresses, revealing a younger sister, Tabby, whose stay in a mental hospital a year prior may have been the first sign that there's more power in her than it seems; a mother who drinks a little more each day; a father who stays out later and later each night. The ghostly action is spaced well, leaving room for solid and natural character and relationship development. Nick's new ghost-hunting posse - Gage, Saul, and Sarah - make lovable comrades, and his struggles with the quintessentially popular "blood-sucker" Cat and her meat-head boyfriend Dane are believable and interesting.

All in all The House Eaters is very well done and I would highly recommend it. After reading We Are The Monsters, I found myself intrigued with this fresh literary voice. Now another book down in Polson's impressive catalog, I can officially call myself a fan.

4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Concise Thoughts on "Literary" vs. "Genre"

A post on author Roni Loren's blog entitled The Beauty of Books: Why The Literary vs. Genre Deabte Isn't Necessary sparked this comment from me:

The fact of the matter is that what's well-written enough to be considered literary and what is popular fluff will be decided by generations after ours. "Literary" shouldn't be used to categorize and compartmentalize what we do as authors. Writers cut from any cloth should strive to be as literary as they can in their writing because they are, after all, writing books. It's like describing a genre of music simply with "pop" or " indie." These terms don't really mean anything to music as an art form, just like issues of whose literary and whose genre shouldn't mean anything to a writer. Write what you love. Read a lot of different stuff. Learn all the rules (because there are a few) and then learn how to bend them to your will. It won't matter if you write about zombies or you write about war or you write about the incoherent mental ramblings of a man on death row if what you are writing is pleasing LITERATURE. Keep in mind that the Lord of The Rings is considered to be one of the most gorgeous and well thought-out prose of this century even though its about elves and hobbits, and that when F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940, most people hadn't even heard of The Great Gatsby, his own obituary in The New York Times mentioning Gatsby only as evidence that Fitzgerald "had great potential that he never reached." So again, we do not decide HOW our book will be received or cataloged or stacked on the shelves of history. We can only control how well it is WRITTEN. And we should always want to write well no matter what we're writing.

Notice that nowhere do I say that writing what is popular is bad, nor that we as authors should run out and start writing tried-and-true trash that sells. This new breed of indie authors, especially, has to revive the standards of writing well if we are ever going to be taken seriously. We should ALL want to write as correctly and as entertainingly as possible. One of the comments on Roni's post posed this sentiment: "I can write the most genius literary piece of fiction, but if no one reads it, then it is nothing more than a glorified diary. "

I would urge us to think of the opposite. If all that's selling is shite we've shilled out to make a buck, than what good is it really doing the world anyway? If you can write the most genius literary piece of fiction, than for the love of God do it! And leave it in a diary for someone to find later, if for some reason you can't find an audience. It WILL be appreciated. Great words are always appreciated, somewhere down the line, even if their creators never see the spoils.

Just ask Edgar Allen Poe.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sing It Loud Saturdays: Butch Walker

Sing It Loud Saturdays is a new weekly feature here at Creating Life that will introduce you to bands, songs, albums, and artists who I really dig. Some of them you may have heard of, many you will not have.

This week's featured group is: Butch Walker and The Black Widows

Click here to check out "Summer of '89" of their forthcoming record, The Spade (available Aug 30!)

And don't forget to check out last week's (technically two weeks ago) featured artist, Four Year Strong.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Currently Reading:

Evening, readers!

So I'm on vacation again this weekend and I thought that while I have a free moment tonight, I'd share with you some of what I've been reading as of late. All the links of the book's titles will take you to their Goodreads page where you can read more about them. (FYI, Goodreads is slowly becoming one of my favorite sites on the web. You can find me on there, so friend away!)

Kindle Edition
Published May 1st 2011 by Harlequin Teen

Got this for free on a total whim. It is a novella prequel to a book called The Girl In The Steel Corset, which came out May 24th. Its a quick little read that introduces us to the titular "Girl" Finley Jane and her special abilities. I'm about halfway through it and really have no idea how this prequel ties into the events of Steel Corset, an apparent part one in a planned series called the Steampunk Chronicles. It has my attention so far, though, and has done what it was most likely intended to do: pique my interest in the series. And despite Steampunk Chronicles #1 suffering from one of my least favorite title tropes ("The Girl With The/The Girl In The/The Girl Who ... ") I believe I would enjoy reading subsequent tales about Finley Jane, after finishing this tasty little prequel.

Find the author, Kady Cross, on Twitter @KadyCross
Purchase The Strange Case of Finley Jane on Amazon - and guess what, it's still FREE!

I Wish... by Wren Emerson
Kindle Edition
Published May 14th 2011 by Lakehouse Press

I'm only about a chapter into this story of a young girl who must embrace her destiny as a witch, but so far it's enjoyable. Wren Emerson (aka Author With The Coolest Name Ever) gives Thistle Nettlebottom, the young witch in question, a natural, breezy voice and a biting, somewhat self-depreciating humor. And that works for me. If I'm going to read a story told in a first-person perspective - of which I'm usually not a fan - I'd like my female lead to be more Katniss Everdeen and less Bella Swan (no offense to my Twilight-obsessed wife...) Thistle and Emerson are an entertaining match and I look forward to reading more.

Find the author, Wren Emerson, on Twitter @wrenem
Purchase I Wish... on Amazon

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
Published May 26th 2009 by Books on Tape, Inc. (first published 2000)

Yep, this is my current audio book selection. I picked this one up after falling head-over-heels in love with Kraken, Mieville's 2010 offering that took the buzz-genre "urban fantasy" and showed all the chumps how it could be done. Holy crap I love Kraken. All kinds of love. Anyways, Perdido has not grabbed me quite how Kraken did. There's a reason for that. Though Kraken's plot is twisty and its cast a bit larger, it had a rather straight-forward narrative flow. Perdido Street Station is a whirlwind of imagery, much of it dedicated to the setting - New Cronbuzon, home of the titular Station - and a bit less of it spent on the emotional make-up of characters and their motivations, of what drives them. At least that's what I've felt so far. I'm not as connected yet to the characters of Perdido as I am connected straight into Mieville's amazingly creative mind. And that's enough for me, for now. One of the things I love most about, well, the writers I love the most (Gaiman, Doctorow, Poe, Tolkien, Lewis, Mieville) is their vast creativity - the worlds they can shape with their words; the music they make with their rhythm and phrase and vocabulary. I look forward to listening to this book more (I'm about 12 chapters in.) And props to the narrator, John Lee. He also read Kraken and is phenomenal.

Find the author, China Mieville, on Goodreads.
Purchase Perdido Street Station from Amazon.

The Gathering Dead by Stephen Knight
Kindle Edition
Published March 19th 2011

And so we go from girls in corsets to Special Ops soldiers slaughtering the walking dead. That about sums up the scope of what I could be reading at any given time! This is the most recent book I've finished and it was also the subject of my first Goodreads review. So here it is!
***minor spoilers***

Stephen Knight's The Gathering Dead is an exciting tale about a group of special forces members trapped in a zombie-ridden New York City. Their chopper goes down while trying to extract a VIP, Dr. Wolf Safire, who has valuable knowledge of the zombie virus and may be able to produce a cure. They are forced to hole up in an office building while they try to figure out another plan to get Dr. Safire and his daughter, Regina, out of the crumbling city.

For the most part, I found the book very entertaining, fast-paced, with well-rounded characters and tensions between them. Even those more "stock" characters one often finds in a-team-of-military-men fiction each had some trait that made you root for them and made them stick out in your mind. However, the book could have greatly benefited from a solid editor. There are quite a few grammatical errors, some repetitive phrasing, and even one or two inconsistencies in continuity (at one point a soldier trades guns with another, then his old one is described in his hand a sentence later, then its back to the new one he just acquired.) But these, for me, did not distract from the page-turning enjoyment of this book. It may bother other readers, but I'm not distracted by the occasional typo. If it bothers you, this book could be irksome.

The detail in the story's technical aspects is what I enjoyed a lot. All the military weapons and gear is well identified and used properly, the tactics of the soldiers seem well thought out and realistic (not being a soldier myself, though, I can't speak to their accuracy; it just made sense to me as a reader,) and the layout of New York was solid and lent itself to an easy visual of the setting. There are also some really original scenarios presented. The scene when the team must descend 26 stories down an elevator shaft I found riveting, as well as the ensuing battle out in the streets. One presented idea about soldiers who have been reanimating retaining some of their training was a nice twist, something explored a bit in the film Day of The Dead. Still, the idea of the intelligent zombie hasn't been fleshed out much, and I think Knight handled it was a pretty solid plausibility.

All in all I enjoyed this book, and it was action-packed enough that I could easily picture it as a solid zombie movie. I recommend The Gathering Dead for the casual reader and fan of zombie and survival fiction.
Find the author, Stephen Knight, on Goodreads.
Purchase The Gathering Dead from Amazon.

So there's a look at what I'm reading. What books are you currently enjoying?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Call For Beta Readers - Zombie Fiction

People of the internet!

I am looking to lock down the first issue of Dead Living by the end of the month and I'm seeking out some beta readers to give it a look and offer some feedback! It's a really quick read - a novella coming in at about 13,500 words - and is pretty action packed. Not a lot to it! Just point out some obvious grammar crap and let me know if you connect to the format and characters. Its a series of multiple POV accounts detailing the first moments of the zombie invasion. Tell me what you like. Tell me what you hate. Tell me anything at all! No one has read this beast yet (its sort of my "pet" project) so I'm really looking forward to bouncing it off some skilled and interested eyes.

If you're intrigued, leave a comment here or shoot an e-mail to and I will send you a copy of the most recent draft by the end of the month/early June.

For more info on the project, click here.



Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sing It Loud Saturdays: Four Year Strong

Sing It Loud Saturdays is a new weekly feature here at Creating Life that will introduce you to bands, songs, albums, and artists who I really dig. Some of them you may have heard of, many you will not have.

This week's featured group is: Four Year Strong

Click here to check out the title track off their 2010 release Until We Surrender.

And don't forget to check out last week's featured artist, Heartsounds.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Don't Take Your Eyes Off The Ball

What's the major goal for most writers?

Publish a book, of course.

But there's a pot of gold at the end the rainbow that is publishing. Its gaining fans, making money, selling J.K. numbers, signing the movie deal, approving the Happy Meal toy tie-in, retiring at 40 a millionaire.

Let's be honest, we've all had these daydreams. Many of us won't reach those pinnacles of fame. But in today's digital world, many of us can publish a novel, and make money, and gain fans, and have our stories heard. This is a very groovy thing.

But it all starts before the book is published. First you have to write it and learn to write it well.

To go all sports analogy up in this b, earlier this week the Miami Heat lost the NBA finals to an underdog Dallas Mavericks team. Of course, Heat superstar and perpetual media sideshow LeBron James was heavily scrutinized for his performance during the series, especially in the final quarter of each game when, frankly, his numbers were dismal at best.

So what happened to James and the Heat? Why couldn't they win the game?

LeBron has made it no secret that his one and only goal is to win an NBA championship. Yet he can't seem to close the deal. Is he not talented enough? Not a chance. Is he on a bad team? Absolutely not. So what's the deal? To win championships, you have to win games. To win games, you have to hit shots. To hit shots, you have to be focused on the act of the shot, not the end result of good shooting.

Allow me to switch things over to a sport much closer to my heart. I recall way back in the day when I played football, one of my coaches shared with me some good advice. I played defense, mainly cornerback. (For those of you who don't know, that's the player that runs with the receiver and tries to break up a potential pass play.) Once during a game I had a perfect read on the ball and went up to intercept it. That puppy was mine, but at the last second I glanced down the field. I saw before me wide open real estate. With the end zone looming in my vision and 6 points already on the scoreboard in my head, I lost the briefest moment of concentration on the ball and subsequently dropped it. It was in my grasp, and I dropped it. No interception, no TD, no victory lap.

When I got off the field after our defensive series, the couch knew exactly what had happened. It happens all the time. I had put my eyes on the PRIZE and took my eyes off the BALL. He said to me, "that was a good play, but it could've been better. You can't score the touchdown until you catch the ball."

This might be what LeBron James is experiencing. Can he truly have the mental fortitude necessary to win big games and take big shots when his mind seems so all-consumed with wearing that championship ring? He talks only about how bad he wants it and makes excuses when he doesn't get it. He can't be the leader he is supposed to be because his head's not in the game. He can't be relied on in the 4th quarter because he's already thinking about the win.

Our goals of publication can suffer in the same way. If we think too much of the publication, too much of the potential rewards and the potential fans and the potential money (even a small amount,) we can lose sight of that most important step: writing the book. Catching the ball. This is the difference between the haves and have-nots. Those that can do the work, those that can finish the play, are the ones who finish the book and get it out into the world. Those that can't, no matter how insanely talented they are, are left to dream and makes excuses.

I don't want to make excuses anymore. In today's digital world releasing a piece of work is as simple as clicking a few buttons. You have to do solid work for it to be a LASTING piece of actual art, and you'll probably have to log a ton of hours to achieve that. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm saying simply GETTING something out there and in front of people is a breeze. And yet I struggle with doing the work. In my mind, sometimes, I'm already in the winner's circle and I have yet to catch the ball.

The LeBron in me can look down on that insanely God-awful song on YouTube or that e-book with a hideous cover written by a clueless-in-the-ways-of-the-internet author and say "why is that out there? Why that trash and not my masterpiece? Why them and not me?" and get so wrapped up that petty game of haves and have-nots. But it has to be recognized that they at least took the shot and made it, sloppy as it was. For better or worse, their work is available to the masses. And that's my goal, for people to see (and hopefully actually enjoy) my work.

It's time to keep my eye on the ball. As the great Wayne Gretzky said, "you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." So do the hard part - control the puck, skate down the ice, and take the shot. Getting the goal, the basket, the touchdown - that's just the result of solid planning and solid work. If you practice the steps hard enough, the scoring becomes easy. And once you're winning games - reaching those goals - the championship rings will pile up.

But it all starts with keeping your eye on the ball.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Twitter: Too Much Static

So going by the date of the announcement on this blog (April 14th), it has been two months to the day since I first got my Twitter account. I will say that it is a lot more useful and more fun than I ever thought possible.

I am, however, running into some questions.

I have 128 followers, which is pretty cool. I get a couple every day and I've been chatting and making some good connections with fellow writers. So, obviously, there's no such thing as too many followers.

But what about "Followings?"

I currently follow 258 accounts. Most of the time it isn't a problem to handle, but I've noticed something in the last few days. When I write - the most time I ever spend on the computer - I usually have the internet up, on or wiki or other such sites. And usually there's a tab with my Twitter feed in it. I find my brain constantly being distracted when a little (insert number here) pops up in parenthesis in the Twitter tab. It could be 1 or 2, sometimes even 8 or 10. All new tweets, all popping up since the last time I looked, all calling out to me to be scanned over and explored. This is an easy enough problem to overcome - a little bit of will-power and a little closing of the Twitter tabs, or the browser altogether.

But like I said, I don't spend much time on a computer NOT writing. So I feel that if I step away from the Twitter, that when I get back to it, even in a day, its bogged down with tweets - call it static in the airwaves. I never know what's new and I can never find where I left off. I can never join in on current chats or conversation because I don't know where it started! Is this just one of the side-effects of Twitterdom, something that must be mastered using #hashtags and saved searches and the like...

Or am I following too many people?

Let me throw it out to you, since I'm still only 2 months into this game. What do you do? How many people do you currently follow? Do you weed out poisonous tweeters who tweet constantly and repetitively, even when some of its good stuff? Do you have certain time set aside JUST to tweet and social network? Do you feel overwhelmed keeping up with all this stuff??? I've found a lot of great links, met a lot of great people on Twitter, and got turned on to some really cool books. But I'm beginning to think its time that a dialed the signal in a little better; got rid of some of the static.

So, friends, how do you do it?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sing It Loud Saturdays: Heartsounds

Sing It Loud Saturdays is a new weekly feature here at Creating Life that will introduce you to bands, songs, albums, and artists who I really dig. Some of them you may have heard of, many you will not have.

This week's featured group is Heartsounds

Click here to check out the title track off their 2010 release Until We Surrender.

And don't forget to check out last week's featured artist, Cartel.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sing It Loud Saturdays: Cartel

Sing It Loud Saturdays is a new weekly feature here at Creating Life that will introduce you to bands, songs, albums, and artists who I really dig. Some of them you may have heard of, many you will not have.

This week's featured group is Cartel

Click here to check out Faster Ride off their 2009 release Cycles.

And don't forget to check out last week's featured artist, AM Taxi.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Inspiration Week Day 4: The Movies [part 2]

Well since the last entry on "Inspirations Week" was not one day ago, but rather one MONTH ago, I really should lose the whole "Week" thing in the title. But now I just find it funny.

A brief rundown: Previously on Inspirations Week...
And that brings us, all the way nearly to June, with day 4, where I wrap up 7 things in cinema that blow my freaking mind. And to kick things off...

4. Quentin Tarantino
Favorite film: Pulp Fiction

I always feel like such a film poser when I talk Tarantino. For a while you weren't cool if you didn't like Tarantino, and somewhere along the way it became uncool to like Tarantino. You had to dig deeper to prove your indie snobbery, Quen has gone mainstream! It's even worse when cite Pulp Fiction as your favorite film of his. There are the super-snobs who will say Jackie Brown is the best and you're an idiot for not thinking so. There are the purists who claim Reservoir Dogs is the end-all-be-all (I'm inclined to agree with them on some levels...) Then there are people like my wife - the new school - who will watch Kill Bill over and over and over again and never get sick of it. In the end, though, regardless of which end of the street-cred spectrum you fancy yourself on, we're all correct. Tarantino is one helluva filmmaker. For me, though, cliche or not, nothing beats Pulp Fiction. Its the only film whose script I own in a novel form. Its one of my favorite Bruce Willis performances (and I love me some Willis.) Its got some of the most quotable lines, some of the most infamous scenes in cinematic history. But Pulp Fiction really shines in the little things. Just look at the camera work sometime. The angles. It's like a comic book on film, the way the people talking aren't always all thats in the frame. The way we're brought into the scene emotionally simply by where the camera is positioned. I love it, and aspire to create something as wholly enjoyable and memorable every time I sit down to write.

5. Hellboy I & II
directed by Guillermo Del Toro (based of the co
mic by Mike Mignola)

The Hellboy franchise may seem a bit odd to put in this list. It hasn't really stood any sort of test of time, its a comic book movie, it wasn't a huge hit. But Hellboy was my gateway drug into the imagination of two wonderful artists, Mike Mignola and Guillermo Del Toro. I have since loved everything Del Toro has put on film, from Pan's Labyrinth to Cronos to yes, even Mimic (and you'll understand why once you see #7...) I just love the creativity on display in these flicks. The costumes and characters are phenomal, the set design is great. These stories touch on all my favorite sorts of genre stuff: demons, fantasy, sci-fi, myth and fairytale. Del Toro's mind literally exploded all over these movies and they are such fun to watch. If you really wanna nerd out, like I have, check out the 3-disc special editions of the DVDs. Watching Del Toro walk through the goblin market set from HBII and talk about all the minor details as if goblins and fairys and even Hellboy himself were as real as you and I makes my inner-child's heart soar.

6. Tim Burton/Johnny Depp/Danny Elfman
Favorite film: Sleepy Hollow

(Again, #7 will make so much more sense.) Sleepy Hollow? you might ask. Seriously? Yes. It's my favorite Elfman score, the cast is great, the mood is perfect, and it doesn't take itself too seriously. And the climatic scene in the church is one of my favorite scenes ever. The more obvious choice for this trio is Edward Scissorhands, which is also an amazing film. The other two flicks, Corpse Bride and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory are enjoyable films as well, though not on the same level for me, (nor for very many others, most likely,) as Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow. These cats don't hit a home run every time they're up to bat together. That's not the point. The point is that they are three INSANELY talented people who I admire greatly. Tim Burton has always been a creative beacon for me, I was a Music Compositions major in college because Danny Elfman made me want to score film, and I would love to someday write a character wort
hy enough for Depp to embody. And when this trio gets together, even if its not something miraculous or for-the-ages, I'm always excited to see what they bring to the screen and I always leave entertained.

7. Cheesy Freaking Movies
Favorite film: Hackers

Yep, so now you understand. Ask anyone I know: I love cheese-tastic movies. Usually from the 80s and early 90s, the time of cheese. Hackers sits alone on top of that mountain for me. I could watch it again and again - and have! It was the 4th movie, I believe, that I made Carter watch (obviously, he's a tiny baby and didn't "watch" most of it, but it was on and he like all the music and lights!) (And this is the same kid who was born to the sounds of Journey, so he's doomed. I've cursed my boy to a life of cheesiness.) I won't sit here and defend Hackers' cinematic value (I could, but I won't.) Just suffice to say that it doesn't get any better for me than a movie so hopelessly clueless about "future" technology. Everything in it is so beyond dated its not even funny. And it was beyond dated like... 4 months after the movie came out! It's a tiny piece of '95 in a freaking time capsule. Terrible electronica? Rollarblades? 3D videogames? Fischer Stevens on a skateboard? This is pure gold people, a film that always brings a smile to my face.

Some other cheesy picks that always make my list: Adventures in Babysitting, Batteries Not Included, Army of Darkness, Big Trouble Little China, Gremlins, Dead & Breakfast, The Fifth Element, Final Destination, Water World, Hot Rod, The Lost Boys, Masters of The Universe, Short Circuit, Smokin Aces, Walking Tall, Zoolander, Last Man Standing, The Rundown, Doctor Detroit, basically any movie with Nic Cage or Arnold in it, and lots of zombie/horror flicks... just to name a few. And of course you can't forget those fantasy classics like Dark Crystal, Legend, The Neverending Story, Willow, Labyrinth, Krull, and the like. All sorts of movies I've enjoyed immensly, and still enjoy today. Why? Because they're just entertaining stories done in an entertaining way. That's all. They're not reinventing cinema or pushing any boundries. I'm a simple guy to please - entertain me. Let me escape for a while. And in short, that's why I love movies, the good and the cheesy.

James Cameron: The Terminator is one of the tightest scripts I've seen ever, and the director's cut of The Abyss is probably in my top ten.

Robert Rodriguez: This dude not only does cheesy and fun well, he also inspires me with his 10 Minute Film School segments found on most of his film's DVD extras. Totally awesome stuff, this guys a real creative filmmaker. Plus, Planet Terror is the bee's knees!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sing It Loud Saturdays: AM Taxi

Sing It Loud Saturdays is a new weekly feature here at Creating Life that will introduce you to bands, songs, albums, and artists who I really dig. Some of them you may have heard of, many you will not have.

This week's featured group is AM Taxi.

Click here to check out The Mistake off their 2010 release We Don't Stand a Chance.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Bit of Updating

Greetings people of the interwebs!

So May has completely slipped by me and I see today that I have only published 2 posts this month! This simply will not do. So since I have the house to myself tonight, expect a plethora of posts. Don't worry, for my sake and yours I will space them out to publish in the next fews days. Call it my Memorial Day Weekend gift to you. And if you hate all my posts, then consider it an torture! Moohahahahaha.

Of course, if that's the case, why are you here in the first place?

Anyway, I digress. THE POINT OF THIS POST: To let you in a few things.

You will see in the menu above that I have added two links, THE SONS OF THE MOON and DEAD LIVING. What are these, you ask? These are the two books that I will be publishing this year! Yay! So click the links above to read an excerpt from each project. A bit about them...

THE SONS OF THE MOON is my baby, birthed into this world some years ago now by myself and my heterosexual life-mate, Matt Rodriguez. December 1st, 2011 marks the day that we will release our fair child into the blinding sun of reality. But in all seriousness, The Sons of The Moon is the first volume in our young adult epic fantasy series entitled The World Within My Walls, and we couldn't be more excited to have everyone read this bad boy. It really has been a labor of love. I can confidently say that it is an action-packed, magic-filled story that is sure to take readers on an adventurous ride through the mythical land of Eldynwood as two young men from Earth – the virtuous and creative Baron McNeil and an intrepid orphan named Baldwin – fight for the freedom of a land outside their own, how a warrior named Archer embraces his role in the struggle, and how one mysterious man known only as the Wishmaker may hold the key to saving Eldynwood once and for all. But don't take my word for it, read the excerpt! And follow the link at the bottom of that page to check out chapter one from The Sons of The Moon on my Goodreads page.

DEAD LIVING is really a pet project of mine, something I've always wanted to do. I could talk for hours about the future plans for Dead Living, the big dreams, but I will hit you with the important stuff. What is dropping this year, August 1st, is a novella entitled Dead Living Vol. 0: The Day The Rain Stopped. This is a primer of sorts for what is to come. I hope Dead Living will become a lot more interactive and multi-media as things progress, but for now its a simple novella I hope to have people read and enjoy. Dead Living will tell tales of survival after a strange 28-day rain storm infects both the living and the deceased with a virus capable of reanimating dead tissue. Told through multiple points of view, Dead Living weaves together the tales of many different people from many different walks of life as they struggle to find safety, to find loved ones, and to find a cure to the virus pumping through humanity's veins. Book of Matches Media's DEAD LIVING is sure to serve up all sorts of walking dead deliciousness. At the end of this excerpt you will find a link the Dead Living Survivor-log which will be launching shortly as August creeps ever closer!

So please, check those links out, comment on the Goodreads excerpt if you're a member, and comment on here letting me know what you think! Pass this along to people who might enjoy the stories, as well. Thanks as always for your time and support.

Here's to a very eventful rest of the year!



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Carter Edison Young Haney: Year One

So it's my son's 1 year birthday today! Above is a picture of the two of us. I am on the right, at age 1. He is on the left. It's very shocking to have a little Mini-Me running around the world. It's almost like an evil twin, or a baby me come from the past, and eventually someday we must destroy each other in mortal combat because both of us, so similar, can't exist in the same time.

I guess it's nothing like that, but gimme a break, I write fantasy! My mind goes to odd places.

Anyways, I wanted to drop a quick post for posterity, to capture what I was thinking on the day my son turned 1. It seems like just yesterday - cliche as heck, I know - when we brought him home from the hospital. But it's been a year. And I can hardly fathom it. Yet, it so many other ways its as if Carter has always been here - has always been a part of our lives. I think that's the definition of love, when you can feel that. I say it about Michelle all the time, too. I feel like I didn't really, truly live until I had my family. And so since I have in fact lived 28 years, my beloved family must have been a part of those 28 years, somehow. They're sprinkled in my hopes and dreams and memories I've had since day 1, even though I hadn't met them. And now that they're here, I am here. Truly here.

So Carter, my boy, years from now when you inevitably stumble on this small little corner of the internet and this post about you (for the interwebs keep eeeeevvvverrrytthiiinnnggg, moohahahahahha!), I want you to know how much I love you. Whether I go on to successfully slay the dragons in my head or I end up working in a crap-tastic warehouse the rest of my life, I can confidently say that, through you, I have done something awesome in this world. Because you are awesome - and I mean that in the most direct sense of the word. You fill me awe. I'm so proud of you already, and I can't even imagine what adventures life holds for you.

Happy Birthday C! You are the breath that keeps me going.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Get The Job Done

Lit agent/blog rock star turned published author Nathan Bransford wrote today in this post on his writing process that:

"as long as you get the job done you're a writer."

The idea of that hit pretty profoundly after I read it. What does it mean to be a writer, after all? Is it writing a book? A blog? A poem, a short story? Is it having that piece read? Enjoyed? Discussed? Published? Or does it boil down to the effort behind the craft. The dedication to the piece.

All of us would-be authors struggle with the question of "what makes a writer" pretty regularly. I've seen it around the blogs I follow. We struggle with needing some sort of affirmation that we are, in fact, writers, whether that be a published work, a lot of Twitter followers, a healthy dose of positive feedback, a cover blurb from an author we respect, a slot on the NYT Bestseller's List. We sometimes become consumed with these future prospects that we forgot about what we're doing right now.

And what we're doing right now is writing. Burning the candle at both ends to create something for us, because we have no other choice. Writing is like breathing. At the end of the day, most writers write because of this. They don't write to make money, they don't write for an audience, they don't write to win awards. These are by-products that the successful ones can enjoy. The rest of us - right here, right now - are simply doing the work. And whether we go on to sell Rowling numbers or leave the piece locked in a filing cabinet never for the world to see, we are still writers.

That being said - and what challenged me about the phrase - is that if we don't do the work, we have no one to blame but ourselves for the world's apparent disregard of our writerly-ness. Imagine saying "I'm a doctor" and citing your collection of ER DVDs as if they were a medical degree. We read and we study and we fret over becoming a writer. We think because we know what should be done - because we've learned how its been done - that we are now writers. But real writers, published or not, do the work.

Staring down the next few months towards December and the release of The Sons of The Moon, I have a confession to make. I didn't feel very much like a writer this weekend. I had ample downtime - time alone in the house even, which is a miracle - and I instead spent that time watching TV or movies, watching stories unfold instead of making my own unfold. I'm not saying a bit of relaxation is a terrible thing, not at all. What I'm saying is to do the work means to have a level of commitment others do not. If one proclaims to be a writer, than one must be willing to write, no matter what distractions are presented. I've set goals for myself and my writing and this weekend I skirted them.

I'm not beating myself up in the post, or saying that watching or reading other stories is wrong, I'm simply saying that for me, for the commitment I've made to be a writer, I have to find a better way to manage my time. Because being a writer means doing the work.

What do you think? Do you struggle with the idea of what it means to be a writer? Are you doing the work to reach your goals?

I'll be back later this week with part II of my Inspirations Week Day 3: The Movies. Until then, have a superb evening!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Feedback: How Much Is Too Much?

Matty and I had a great night Tuesday. First we traversed the tornado-filled skies (I exaggerative... sort of) to hit GR's Baker Book House for a Q & A with a writer's guild. This wonderful group of ladies founded the Breath Christian Writer's Conference and were sharing a bit about their collective and individual journeys.

It really got Matt and I thinking.

1. Are there any guys writing anymore??? I mean, writing anything other than thrillers... I can't seem to find any.... sorry, where was I?

Oh, right.

The question of feedback came up. How many people do you share your work with? What's your critique process? How do you handle feedback? Is there such a thing as too much feedback?

So in the spirit of that last question, Matt and I have decided to "go off the grid," if you will, with our two projects that are closest to completion: The Sons of The Moon (a collaborative work of fantasy fiction) and Disciple 6 (Matt's comic book.) We both sort of felt that enough eyes have seen the behind-the-scenes of our projects; enough kind and constructive notes had been given; enough opinion had been thrown into the mix. It was time to pull back and lock in on our vision. And, you know, leave them wanting more. :D

Does this mean I'm through talking about The Sons of The Moon? Not a chance. It's just that the versions and excerpts and things that have bounced around the internet for a while will be cleaned up and done away with. We will be a seeking a COUPLE of beta readers for The Sons of The Moon come October, but until then the tasty peaks will come to an end.

There's a couple reasons for this:

1. The Sons of The Moon is on its fifth and final draft. It's been read by more than 20 readers at various stages of gestation. It's been queried and submitted twice to more than 30 agents. It's been read enough. Its been commented on enough. The feedback has been invaluable, but we've gotten to the point where its like "what can be left to say?" If we don't have a handle on this story yet, this story is doomed. We've got a handle on this story.

2. Too much second-guessing can really stall a project and leave it stale. I've seen this in my own work. When I was too focused on what a critique reader had to say or how to shift each and every suggestion or idea into some working part of the story, the writing was all over the place. It didn't flow - it was disjointed. Because I was seeing it through 10 sets of eyes instead of just mine (and Matt's.) I still think feedback is great. We will still have probably two different editors handling the final version of the manuscript before publication. But they will be professionals and their job will be to polish, not to impart those "readerly" opinions we've come to know and love (and loathe, at times...)

So what do you say, humble readers? What's your process for feedback and critiques? Do you share a lot while working on a project, or do you keep it closely guarded till its ready to see the light of day?