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I love words. I'm learning to use them.

Category: Creativity

What I observed about storytelling during a Backstreet Boys concert.

028Yes, I just admitted that. Backstreet was back (alright!) in Vancouver last night, and I was singing along to nearly every song. I was admittedly a bit secretive about attending, but once I was there, I had no choice but to sing (sing, croak, whatever it was my vocal cords attempted to do) – and I had a lot of fun.

While I did watch the boy band (“boys” who are now pushing 40) recap their wide catalogue of Top 40 singles and get down (and move it all around) to the original choreography, I spent most of the night looking around at the audience – mostly made up of millenials like myself along with many middle-aged women (my wife even saw one of her college professors busting it to “Larger Than Life”). Nearly everyone was singing, swaying and smiling to every line of factory-produced cheesiness in the songs. Read the rest of this entry »

Book review: When We Were On Fire

When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over

When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over

Having grown up in the evangelical world, gone through youth groups, rallies and missions trips – and with my personal faith journey changing and evolving still to this day – I was eager to dive into When We Were On Fire, a memoir of an “evangelical survivor.”

After the first couple chapters, I was worried this would just be overtly critical and cynical without offering any real critique. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find it much more on the “show” side than “tell,” taking the reader through the author’s journey through evangelical obsession, gradual disillusion, spiritual exhaustion and eventual depression, and then slowly reconstructing her faith and her relationship with the faith community. Read the rest of this entry »

Book review: Less Than Zero

Book

Less Than Zero (Vintage Contemporaries)

I hated this book, and I gave it five stars on Goodreads.

Less Than Zero, the debut novel from Bret Easton Ellis, is probably one of the most hopeless, lifeless, plotless stories I have ever read. It’s about a group of rich kids in LA wasting their lives away on drugs, crime and excess. There’s no remorse, no development, no consequences. No one to root for. No one to be redeemed. No judgement or message from the author. No feeling of hope or even a hint of resolution at the end.

And that’s where the horror kicks in: none of the characters seem to care at all. They have nothing to live for, nothing to aim for. Read the rest of this entry »

The first impulse comes from emotion.

“I think the first impulse comes from some deep emotion. It may be anger, it may be some sort of excitement. I recognize in the real world around me something that triggers such an emotion, and then the emotion seems to cast up pictures in my mind that lead me towards a story.”

~John Hershey

 

Why I’m rooting for Steve McQueen at the Oscars.

One of the most important part of a story is if it sticks with me after a reading or viewing. Whether it moved me to tears, brought a smile to my face or just made me incredibly uncomfortable, the “after” effect is what I really look for.

Steve McQueen’s films definitely have the latter effect on me. Hunger and Shame are two of the most uncomfortable movies I’ve ever seen. They drew me into the world of characters so different from me, but McQueen’s refusal to look away or sugar-coat their realities created an incredibly human experience – and I could not shake those brutal realities even after the credits started to roll. Beyond that, the film’s questions were left unanswered at the end, leaving it open to the viewer’s interpretation. Read the rest of this entry »

2013: A year of immersion.

I could sum up 2013 in a number of ways: Switched careers; travelled the Pacific coast; published my second book; learned I was going to become a father [!].

Another way would be this: I read. I read a lot. Read the rest of this entry »

News flash: Book release!

Last November, I received an email from two friends: Dave Lukas and Andrew Zahn.

“What if . . .

– What if three guys that never met in person collaborated?
– What if they all found something they were mutually passionate about and felt compelled to share with others?
– What if they wrote together online and created something hilarious . . . or poignant . . . or terrible . . . or amazing . . . or devastating? Or none of those things. Or all of them.
– What if we talked more about what it might or might not be?”
There was a catch: We had never met in person, and had no idea if we could even work together. Still, we gave it a whirl. Nearly a year later, we’re proud to present the fruit of our labor:

Man Speak Final

Man Speak is a sometimes-serious/sometimes-funny discussion of what it means to be a man today – written by three guys in three different time zones, all at three very different stages of life. It truly was an honor collaborating with these guys and am very proud of our work. We put in many, may hours of Google hangouts, writing assignments, revisions and subsequent meetings, and I hope you enjoy the resulting conversations.

Advice to writers: Write, don’t guess.

Don’t try to guess what sort of thing editors want to publish or what you think the country is in a mood to read. Editors and readers don’t know what they want to read until they read it. Besides, they’re always looking for something new.

– William Zinsser

Advice to writers: Read ceaselessly.

Hello, world. I’ve missed you.

I’ve definitely neglected this blog lately, and for that I am sorry. However, I have a (somewhat) decent excuse: I’ve been reading far too much!

Novels have taken up the majority of my time, but I also love reading up on advice from other writers. Today, I stumbled across this gem from David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker: Read the rest of this entry »

Book review: 101 Secrets for Your Twenties

101 Secrets For Your Twenties

I’m normally not a fan of non-fiction, self-help books. Yes, they can contain helpful information, but I prefer getting lost in the world of fiction. However, when I do happen to stumble across a book that resonates with me, I know it’s special for one of two reasons: 1) I’m encountering something I wish I had read about 10 years ago, or 2) I feel like I could be great friends with the author.

101 Secrets for Your Twenties, the debut book from author/speaker Paul Angone, fits both bills. Read the rest of this entry »