My Writing – The Forest

The Forest is a short story set in the popular world of Dragonlance. What happens when a lone elf maiden finds herself lost in the forest around Daggard Keep?

Lord Soth

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My Writing – Sea Trolls and Weird Water Witches

Sea Trolls and Weird Water Witches is the magical story of a what may happen along oceans and lakes, ponds and waterways all across the world.

Length: 1 page

Genre: Children / Fantasy

Creation/Publication: 2011

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The story was part of my 2011 NaNoWriMo collection. The original intention was to write an original children’s story every day (between 1,700-2,000 words) for the month of November. I made it through only a few stories before I realized how challenging it is to write kid/children’s stories. The word count, length, choice – all became a huge challenge for me.

Enjoy one of the few pieces I was able to finish during NaNoWriMo!

The story can be read here: Sea Trolls and Weird Water Witches

If you’re interested in additional stories, check out the My Writing section for more reading options!

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A few items to note when reading these stories:

  • Please enjoy them and feel free to let me know your thoughts. A writer always appreciates feedback when attempting to grow their craft.
  • Many of them remain unedited since their original creation date and contain misspellings, improper grammar and made up words. These are in here for flavor and as a time stamp to reflect my age when they were created.
  • Over time, I hope to include “Directors Commentary” in all of my stories. Hopefully this adds some flavor and context for the creative process and my thinking as these stories were created.
  • These are being shared for the benefit of the community and ask for respect to all who read, share, and comment on the material within.
  • All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without express written permission. Contact skillpointstation@gmail.com if interested.

Book Review – Paladins of Shannara

Terry Brooks, long-time author of the Shannara series, is venturing into the eBooks market with a new short story in the Shannara Universe exclusively for the Kindle.

He will be releasing 3 total stories over the course of the year in partnership with Amazon to see how the new digital distribution opportunities empower authors to write and publish their content.

Paladins of Shannara
Author: Terry Brooks
Pages: 40

The Shannara books are quick reads and demand little of the reader as the stories are straightforward hero-journeys that stay away from complex character relationships, political mechanizations or mysterious motivations/initiatives for the main characters; a trend which has become exceedingly popular over the past 15 years. They’re pure popcorn fantasy that feel like a nostalgic throwback to our youth (when many of us originally read these books).

Many I know who once read these books have left the series behind in their youth – so this new short story will have less relevance for those who have spent little time lately with the series. Or it might serve as a quick reminder what fun the books are and pull them back in. Fingers crossed!

— Spoiler Free Review —

The first of three short stories in this series is entitled “Paladins of Shannara”. It is a brief glimpse into the world of Shannara and is set shortly before the events of the original “Sword of Shannara” (published in 1977). The main character of the story is Allanon, the mysterious wizard-like Druid from the original trilogy, and a fan favorite of many. The story also serves as a bridge between “The First King of Shannara” (published in 1997, 20 years after the original book) and “The Sword of Shannara”.

The story is quick, light, and relatively free of any deep character insights or major reveals that would normally appeal to fans. Based upon the description and the premise I had hoped for more and was somewhat disappointed. There was great potential for the story to show more than it did but in the end it felt too short and more of a light skimming into the world of Shannara. The story is for fans-only and would be of little use to persuade a non-fan to pick up the series. While the subject of the story would be irrelevant to a non-fan, the subject matter lacks depth and an intriguing hook. I would most likely use one of my favorite chapters from “The Druid of Shannara” to convert a non-fan than “Paladins”.

In the end, the price tag and time investment is low and the story reminds us how far we have come as Shannara readers by bringing us back to the beginning of the whole series. The title “Paladins” seems to indicate that the other 2 stories might involve other characters (since the title is plural) or continue on with this same story arc. Either way, I’ll be fan-excited to read the other 2!

You can read more about Paladins of Shannara from Terry Brooks’ website:
http://www.terrybrooks.net/2012/07/new-eshort-story-allanons-quest/

Or purchase the Kindle Version:
http://www.amazon.com/Paladins-Shannara-Allanons-Quest-ebook/dp/B008C82N6G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345129954&sr=1-1&keywords=paladins+of+shannara

In other Terry Brooks news…

The new novel, Dark Legacy of Shannara: Wards of Faerie, hits shelves on 8/21/12. It is geared towards those who have been involved with the series for a long time as it follows a continuing set of characters. For more info go here:
http://www.terrybrooks.net/novels/shannara-2/the-dark-legacy-of-shannara/wards-of-faerie/

Lastly, a fan recently compared Sword of Shannara (and others in the series) against The Lord of the Rings books. The excellent summary is very open and direct in its comparisons. It is intended for those who have read the books and not meant to be reviewed prior to reading many of the novels:
http://grandcentralarena.com/on-my-shelves-terry-brooks-_shannara_/

The Tolkien Professor & Mythgard Institute – Your Geek Education Options

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The @tolkienprof and @mythgardian want to educate you about Tolkien!

How ready are you for the THREE Hobbit movies that are about to come out?

Do you want to know more about Tolkien, the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit? Understand how he influenced the fantasy worlds you are exposed to today?

I have been a Tolkien fan since 7th Grade when I was first introduced to “The Hobbit”. I learned about The Tolkien Professor and his podcasts over a year ago when my 2nd son was born and I found myself up at all times of the night taking care of him. I poured through hundreds of hours of free lectures that the Tolkien Professor has put online for you to enjoy. He covers Tolkien influences, the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Silmarillion and many of his earlier works unknown by many readers. His lectures are well recorded with energy and a great flow to the content. Students participate in some of the podcasts and help keep things fluid and interesting. You can choose to go through whole courses or narrowly focus in on particular books & chapters.

Highly recommended for any fan of Tolkien and fantasy!

Tolkien Literature

On Fairy Stories: http://www.tolkienprofessor.com/wp/lectures/introduction/

(Great background to understand how Tolkien cared for and approached all his works)

Undergraduate Tolkien Survey: http://tolkienprofessor.com/wp/lectures/courses/the-undergraduate-tolkien-survey/

(This covers everything, not as deep as some others, but if you want a great

Lectures on the Hobbit: http://www.tolkienprofessor.com/wp/lectures/the-hobbit/

(Multi chapter podcasts about the Hobbit that go even deeper than the Survey)

Silmarillion: http://tolkienprofessor.com/wp/lectures/courses/silmarillion-seminar/

(Chapter-by-chapter lectures on one of the most amazing and complicated fantasy & literature books out there!)

Riddles in the Dark: http://www.mythgard.org/exclusives/riddles-in-the-dark/

(A new series about the Hobbit, with guest lecturers and also very topical with discussions around the new movies. I have not done these yet.)

Tolkien Q&A Sessions: http://www.tolkienprofessor.com/wp/lectures/bonus/

(Lots of little good nuggets in here – like Tom Bombadil and “winged” Balrogs)

Non-Tolkien Related Lectures:

Faerie & Fantasy: http://tolkienprofessor.com/wp/lectures/courses/faerie-and-fantasy/ (I have not taken this one yet)

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The Mythgard Institute

In addition to all these great (FREE) lectures, you can also expand your Tolkien, fantasy and scifi knowledge further by taking credited and non-credited classes at The Mythgard Institute. One of the most affordable ways to take classes and/or get a degree in this area – which is one of their commitments to their students. I have wanted to take courses here for the past year and am intimiated by the time commitment that it would take to read, listen to lectures, participate in class sessions, and write the papers that I still haven’t signed up for a class. But I hope to one day soon!

Check out the catalog here: Mythgard Fall 2012 Course Catalog – http://www.mythgard.org/academics/fall-2012-course/

They can be followed here on Twitter: @tolkienprof and @mythgardian and at The Mythgard Institute (http://www.mythgard.org) and The Tolkien Professor (http://www.tolkienprofessor.com/)

Corey Olson (the Tolkien Professor) also has a new book out called “Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit” (http://www.mythgard.org/exclusives/exploring-the-hobbit/) that I am excited to read in the near future.

For a fan of Tolkien, his works or epic storytelling and world building – these classes and podcasts are for you!

Guild Wars :: A Forward of What Is To Come

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Guild Wars, the PC MMORPG, is one of my all-time greatest games. I have a tremendous amount of passion for this property, the game and the company that makes it. In my wheelhouse of life impacting games, such as Ultima and Phantasy Star, Guild Wars ranks incredibly high. So many of my recent memories are entwined with those of playing Guild Wars 1.

With the release of Guild Wars 2 only a few weeks away on 8/28, I have been spending some time reflecting on why I am so passionate about this property. It took me a little bit of time to convince my fiancé (now wife) to give it a try, but once she did, she was hooked. We’ve been playing together for over 5 years and have shown up for all the in-game festivals, met wonderful people through our guild, and learned the pains and pleasures of playing kid-free to playing with 2 kids now (long stretches of playing are quite impossible without babysitters being involved).

Over the next few days, look for additional articles where I talk about Guild Wars, gaming and storytelling, and gaming with your spouse.