Book Review: Transmute

TransmuteTransmute by Eric Lahti

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To be fair, I am already a fan of Eric Lahti so I was excited when this book came out. I have read the entire “Henchmen” series starting from book 1 and have now finished “Transmute”. I love books in a series where I can get into the specifics of the characters. I get to grow to like and know those characters as if they were family members. You smile when they triumph, you wince when they’re in pain, and you feel sad when they fail.

Eric has a storytelling style all his own. He takes you from the beginning of the book to the end and pulls you through by your nose. His books offer the same adrenaline filled ride every time and consistently. With a mix of martial arts, witty humor, and his own brand storytelling I found myself turning pages as quickly as my fingers could move. This style of storytelling is where Eric excels in why he is one of my favorite authors.

In “Transmute”, we join Stephen, Jess, Eve, Wilford, and a host of other characters returning from the previous books. He even introduces us to some new characters we quickly grow to see as part of the team. I won’t spoil anything, but one of them has a sister, and she’s pretty amazing.

Note: This is not a team of incorruptible perfect human beings. As a matter fact, not even really human beings at all. They are flawed; each and every one, in their own way. However, that is what makes them special and why this team is so effective. Perhaps it’s in their inhumanity that they are most human, and certainly their most endearing.

I can highly recommend the henchman series to anyone who is looking for a great ride. While each book could stand alone individually, I would highly recommend you start the first henchman book and move forward. Even with this being the third book in the series there seems to be no sign of slowing down for this great team in this fantastic story.

-Bryan the Writer

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Review: The Wielders of Arantha

Pawns (The Wielders of Arantha Book 1)Pawns by Patrick Hodges

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes there are books that come along which essentially define an author and raise them up head and shoulders above others. It’s safe to say that “The Wielders of Arantha; Book One: Pawns” is that book for Mr. Patrick Hodges. It is important to note that Patrick is already an award-winning author, but this is really a departure for him in terms of subject matter. It proves his incredible depth and complexity as an author.

Wielders puts you into the lives of Maeve and Davin. Not only are they mother and son, but they’re also humanities last hope for survival against the Jegg, a race threatening to take over the earth. In order to bring peace to their planet and win the war against the Jegg, Maeve and Davin head to another planet to find a mysterious energy source.

Try as they might, they are spotted by a local, Kelia, who has been drawn to them through her own inherited powers. Their chance meeting on this planet, far from earth, was in no way simply chance. One gets the impression, Maeve and Davin are not going home anytime soon.
Try as you might, it is impossible to put this book down. The characters leave there mark on you and the world Patrick builds is so intense you can see it easily in your mind’s eye.

You get the idea that “Wielders” is not simply just another book, but this is the first installment of something great. It has some elements of humor, the threat of global war, some of the best character building you will find, and it leaves you in a place begging for book two! Oh, did I mention an underlying romantic sub-plot?

Don’t be scared by all of this. There is a lot in this book, but it is woven together masterfully by Patrick.

I would stake my credibility on saying that this book will propel Patrick to a new platitude in his already excellent career as an author.
As I like to say in any review I do, don’t just take my word for it … check it out yourself!

-Bryan

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Wait … You’re a Writer?

I have a website. If you haven’t seen it, it is www.bryannowak.com. I have a Facebook account, it is @bryanthewriter. I have Twitter @Bryan_TheWriter. I even have recently set up an Instagram account, although I’m not terribly sure how or what I’m doing with that yet.

Even with posting to all of these social media outlets it shocks me when people I’ve known all my life say to me, “Wait … you wrote a book?” Well, two in fact with a third about to be finished. There is a fourth out there in the wind, but I’m waiting to hear back from the publisher about it.

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Wait … you are an author?

In the book, “Riapoke” I actually use my fiction to vent a little about how some things get completely lost in the wind these days.

“The old man took a deep sip of coffee and stared out the window toward the trees on the other side of the highway, pondering what string of words would be best to answer a difficult question. Putting the cup down and letting out a heavy sigh, he stared into Meghan’s eyes, searching for answers he himself struggled with for years. “You know, there are people in this world who go on around us who are essentially non-people. Let me ask you this; the last delivery driver who came to your house, do you know his name? Of course, you don’t. You only cared that they were there on time, were fast, and then left. The waitress who gave you our coffee, do you remember her name?”

“It’s Rose. Her name is Rose,” Kyle said.

“Very good, young man. I’m impressed. Most people don’t notice the little things that matter most in life. You know, I have over thirty years of trucking behind me, and I can count on one hand the number of repeat deliveries where the manager of the store even knew I’d been there before, or even my name for that matter. Many people scurry in and out of our lives and we never even notice them, not even if they go missing. All we know is that a different waitress brought us our coffee. Or a different delivery driver came to our door. No one ever misses them.” 

At some point social media, and I get the irony of saying this on social media, overwhelms people and simply gives us too much information. Sort of like when the internet tipped the scale from being an academic forum for professors to share information to being the hub of porn and cat videos.

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Even this cat knew I wrote a book!

There are literally millions of articles out there about how to get seen on the internet and how to sell your books. I get at least four e-mails a week cold calling me about how this or that company can sell my books for me and make me a NYT best selling author in a month. Literally one promised me that they could help me write a best selling novel in under a week. I can tell you that’s impossible no matter how amazing an author you are. Meanwhile, the ad was filled with spelling errors and mistranslated words which meant it was some Russian company that shoved it through Google translate in an attempt to get me to send them my credit card info.

The internet is essentially an up-hill battle and every day I feel like I’m slipping a little more. Maybe not really slipping as much as every step I take, every new foot-hold or hand-grip I grab some idiot shows up and dumps another twenty feet worth of new rock on top of the mountain.

At any rate, I don’t really have a solution which works. However, recently I signed up for a site called Skillshare.com. It is actually pretty interesting. People that know things about stuff put classes up. I took one so far and really liked it. Taught by a self proclaimed capitalist, he loves nothing more than selling things. It was really interesting. I’m presently signed up for classes in things like Search Engine Optimization so I can better understand how I can get people to stop saying things like, “Oh, you wrote a book?” and hear more things like, “Oh, you’re Bryan Nowak. You wrote a book or something right?”

-Your Humble Servant,

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A Self-Defense Tip For You

A really great article from a friend who is up on the martial arts scene.

Eric Lahti

It seems there’s still a large contingent of people out there who will believe you can use car keys to turn yourself into Wolverine.

The set-up is simple and there’s a certain elegance to it. The theory is this: you usually have car keys handy, so why not turn them into a weapon? While I applaud the idea of using common items as improvised weapons, putting your keys between your fingers and punching someone with them is going to have less than stellar results.

tumblr_onekwtVciA1vluy0ho1_540 Both of these are extremely bad ideas. Unless you want to hurt yourself, in which case, go for it.

(Actually, when you get right down to it, both of these examples are bad ideas for self-defense, but for different reasons.)

When I was a kid and reading “authentic” “ninja” training manuals, these things would have looked great. In fact, the first time I heard about putting…

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The Flu. Sponsored by Big-Pharma, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon

Weekends are a roller coaster ride for me. I start out with such excitement on Friday afternoon thinking about all the great things I’m going to get accomplished and by Sunday, I am usually in a despondent heap wondering what the hell happened to the weekend.

This last weekend was an interesting experience. I started out with my usual enthusiasm. My chore list included trying to finish my newest novel, Riapoke, get some reading done, and I wanted to do something around the house. Well, life 1: Bryan 0.

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Totally Digging this Cover

Saturday was my daughter’s 15th birthday. It was great. I took her, and her friends, to the laser tag place and we played three games of laser tag. These girls had a great time and I am happy to announce I am still a cool dad. I really enjoyed spending time with them all. Then we came home for a birthday dinner of Subway (my daughter’s choice) and cake. It was a good time. By about 10:00 I was hovering over the toilet and remembering how much vomiting sucks. I also developed a cough that kept my wife and I up all night.

Sunday, I ran a 100+ fever pretty much anytime I wasn’t heavily medicated.

You might be thinking to yourself, well you were home all day Sunday so you could have written all day. Those of you thinking that don’t understand how I do the flu. I literally was in bed all day. Unable to really move or do anything outside of drinking Theraflu and binge watching Hulu and finally watching, for the millionth time, The Outlaw Josie Wales. By the way, I consider The Outlaw Josie Wales to be one of the greatest movies ever made.

So, here I am, this morning, trying to play a little bit of catch up. This morning’s blog is nothing more than a little apology to the world that I didn’t get anything done this weekend outside of losing a few pounds to the natural processes of influenza and binged watched some of the idiot box.

In case you are wondering, here is Bryan’s instructions for how to have the flu.

  • Complain; I don’t mean a little, but tons and without a shred of remorse or decency. Seriously, revert to being a five year old. Beg your wife/husband/significant other/Labrador Retriever to bring you water, be sympathetic, make you a sandwich, and anything else you can ask which is probably unreasonable. Also, wail and moan loudly.
  • Medicate; I love Theraflu. I mean, I’d marry it if I could. If that product were to ever disappear off the shelves, I might actually choose not to go on living. That is a blow I could never tolerate. I’ve found nothing to make me feel better. Thank you makers of Theraflu! I don’t mean the company … I literally mean the people who mix the big vats of medicine and run the machines making the packaging. You guys rock!
  • Eat nothing; I know I have a flu versus a cold if I lose my appetite. For two days I’ll barely touch food of any sort. I only force myself to eat a little because of a psychological obligation to taking in some form of calories. I made myself some toast and had to stop eating half way through because I was stuffed! If I have a cold, by the way, I am usually starving and can’t eat enough. Go figure.
  • Watch TV; I will literally watch more television on the day I am sick than I do in a month. Seriously. And with Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon I can pretty much watch until my brains turn to mush and leak out the side of my head. On Sunday I watch two seasons of a television show I’d been meaning to watch … two feature length movies, one episode of Dexter, and an episode of Big Bang Theory.
  • Sleep, or rather the lack of sleep is elusive. I seriously can’t sleep while I have the flu. I try to sleep, but all I end up doing is annoying my wife. I have a terrible time falling asleep and an even worse time sleeping until a reasonable hour. On Sunday, I was up at 5am for some reason. Which brings me to my final point.
  • When I am done being sick I sleep like it’s an Olympic event. When I finally pull out of my sickness it’s like the exhaustion takes over and I get some good ole’ ZZZs. Last night was that night for me.

So, that is how Bryan the Writer is sick. I’m happy to say that I am now officially better. I am taking it easy today because the doctor says I should make sure I’m symptom free for 24 hours before interacting with other humans again.

Have a great week everyone!

-Your Humble Servant,

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Stretching those little bird arms!

To this day, I always tell my sons that they need to stretch those little bird arms of theirs if they want to be as strong as their father. The truth is that one is almost as strong as me anyway. But I like to poke fun where I can.

Writing can be like that too. Recently I’ve been editing. And by editing I mean pretty much that’s all I’m doing all the time. I don’t mind editing, but it can become tedious. It’s sort of like being a gun nut (like I am) and only getting to fire one bullet before bringing the target back to examine the shot. Sure, there is time for that kind of thing. But sometimes you just want to spend lead and shred the target until it falls to the floor in tiny pieces. Or maybe like a baseball player who is only allowed to practice hitting the ball and running half way to the base before being told to come back and try again. Frustrating!

I have a ton more editing to do. But I shoved it aside tonight to work on story idea I have had in my brain for a while. It’s all first person and the main character tells you the story of his family. Granted they are a majorly f’ed up family, but they are a family never the less. Yes, someone is going to be beaten to death and something awful is going to happen, but I am trying to tell the story as an adult, but as if they are remember it through the wonderment of an eleven year old who finds out the world isn’t as great as he thinks.

Getting away from editing and actually letting first draft material flow from my fingertips is intoxicating. The characters are starting to come up off the page and develop personalities of their own. The world I’m creating is surreal in that you are seeing a beautiful mansion, made all the more amazing because an eleven year old mind is telling you about it. Bathtubs become20160124_131456 pools, picture windows become impossibly grand, the dinner table could seat a thousand people or more. It is just great first draft kinds of stuff.

Like I said, it gets me into the groove and feeds my soul. It’s hard only editing for the last six months and, to be honest, I have kind of had my fill of editing for now. At this point I wanted to take some time and get back to the business of just writing new stuff.

I don’t know where this story is going to end up, but I do know one thing. It is going to be a ton of fun to write! Sometimes you just have to stretch those little bird arms.

 

-Your Humble Servant,

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I love it!

Sometimes you write something, edit, edit again, edit yet another time, and then something comes out that blows you off your feet. Stephen King talks about not really having the ability to shoot out gold laden brilliance from his fingertips every time he writes. What he is eluding to is the need to edit, edit, and more editing until something beautiful emerges. 

This isn’t to be confused with polishing a turd! The writer’s first draft is never brilliance ready to hit your local bookshelves. Anyone who tells you that’s possible is probably not an author at all. Admittedly, I still have things that are less than brilliant, but occasionally I get something right.

Today I was editing a paragraph and removed, tightened, and changed a few key elements and I saw the paragraph jump up off the page and smack me around a bit. I suddenly fell in love with that paragraph. That isn’t to say that when I send it to a professional editor, I might not still change it slightly, but for this edit, I fell in love.

I wanted to share with you what it looked like at first draft and then what it looked like after I had a couple of runs through the paragraph. While I am not really done with it, I hope you see the changes and what it looks like after I have worked with it a bit. 

First Draft! Not bad, but not great. It lacked pop and sparkle.  

After what seemed to the assemblage like an hour of staring at each other in silence, he turned towards the large globe next to the desk. Flipping open the secret compartment, he brought out three glasses and filled them with bourbon. Placing two on the desk in front of the men, he sat down in his chair. “You two had better sit down and have a drink.” For the next few minutes, the three sat in stunned silence.

Here is the paragraph after I re-wrote it. A lot more pop and sparkle. Probably not 100% yet, but much better. 

After a timeless expanse where no one dared utter a word, Donny turned to the large globe next to the desk. Flipping open the secret compartment and retrieving three glasses, he filled them with bourbon. Placing two on the desk in front of the men, he sat down heavily in the leather office chair. “You two better sit down and have a drink.” For the next few minutes, the three observed a moment of stunned silence.

My point is this. Editing matters! While I am far from perfect, I am striving for it. Will I ever get there? I don’t know. But, I’m having a great time working towards it.

-Your Humble Servant,

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