Weekend Buys 4/18/14

I missed another "Weekend Buys" post last week because I was out of town. Sorry about that. “Each weekend I recommend three books. Some are books I’ve read and some are books I want to read. Some have been written by my friends. Or maybe I’ll just post a good deal I saw online. Just a little something to expose you to the kind of books that interest me.”

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You might know the First Law Trilogy as a series I've raved about before. I first read it while I was writing the first draft of Promise of Blood, and to this day it's one of my favorite trilogies. Book one, The Blade Itself, is currently on sale on Kindle for just $1.99. I highly recommend you grab it, with the caveat that it's a darker fantasy world than those you may be familiar with. One of the main characters is an inquisitor and gifted torturer. His inner monologue makes the whole series worth reading. So grab The Blade Itself.

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Honor Among Thieves. James S.A. Corey, author of Leviathan Wakes, is my favorite space opera writer these days, so I was pretty excited when I first heard he (Daniel Abraham and Ty Frank, the co-authors who are James S.A. Corey) was writing a Star Wars novel. I haven't read a Star Wars novel in probably ten years or more but I will likely pick this one up soon. Whether you currently read, used to read, or want to read Star Wars novels, you should get Honor Among Thieves.

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Laugh if you want to. I read Battlefield Earth when I was nineteen or so and I absolutely loved it. Yes, it brings to mind the ridiculous movie with John Travolta. Yes, it's kind of huge and a bit hokey. But damn it I enjoyed this book. It balances that "bleak vision of the future" and "fun action vibe" really quite well. The ebook is just $4.61 right now on kindle, which isn't a bad price at all.

Weekly Inspiration 10/25/2013

Certain things spark the creativity in all of us. Perhaps a smell associated with a powerful memory, or a long walk in the park or a drive through the countryside. Maybe a newspaper article, or a book we read. For me it’s often visual – a piece of fantasy art or a tv show or movie. **If a piece of art or photograph is your work and you’d like it removed, please let me know and I’ll do so ASAP.

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Found in this thread with a whole lot of other amateur photos of the park, this picture made me want to go hiking. And I hate hiking. Few people understand that there are few things more abhorrent to a short, chubby, crippled man than wandering around on foot in the wilderness. Despite that all that I do have a love of nature and wish I was more mobile. This would be a lovely place to visit.

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Speaking of nature... when I was a kid my parents would take my siblings and I around to their favorite trails in central Ohio and western New York and PA. This picture remind me a lot of them, though the poster says this was taken in Wisconsin. There is a scene in The Crimson Campaign set in a place very similar to this with the high walls and cascading falls.

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Taking a break from nature, here's a piece that I ran across two nights ago on DevientART. Done by depingo, this is exactly the kind of art I've been looking to commission for my own website. It reminds me a lot of how I envision Vlora (though she is younger and dresses a little more practically).

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Apparently this is an abandoned railroad in Paris. I've always been enchanted by shots like this where nature is starting to take over but you can still see the strength of civilization beneath the greenery. I wonder what this will look like in twenty years. Or fifty.

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Found here. Not sure as to the original source. There's something about a snowy blanket that makes the world a more magical place. Maybe it's because I grew up reading about Narnia. Maybe it's because this reminds me of my childhood.

Or maybe it's because snow makes you want to curl up next to the fire with a good book.

 

 

Weekly Inspiration 10/11/2013

One or two of you may have noticed that I missed three weeks of weekly inspiration posts (and this one is going up two days later than it should). I've had a bit of excitement going on about the McClellan residence lately - not to mention at least one of those Friday nights I was just feeling lazy. To catch everyone up, I launched my new Powder Mage short story "Hope's End" a couple of weeks ago. I then announced that Orbit had bought three more books in the Powder Mage universe. Finally, I got to let the world know that my mentor Brandon Sanderson has given me a blurb for Promise of Blood.

That's all out of the way, so...

Certain things spark the creativity in all of us. Perhaps a smell associated with a powerful memory, or a long walk in the park or a drive through the countryside. Maybe a newspaper article, or a book we read. For me it’s often visual – a piece of fantasy art or a tv show or movie.

**If a piece of art or photograph is your work and you’d like it removed, please let me know and I’ll do so ASAP.

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This picture is magnificent. It's how I imagine a road in northern Adro looks in the late spring. A wonderful view all on it's own, I feel like the clouds make it seem particularly cold. Found here.

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While there are fortresses in the Powder Mage universe, medieval castles have long been out of style and aren't central to the setting. That doesn't stop me from loving them.

Found this very cool piece of digital art on DeviantART. I even approached the artist, Wouter Florusse about doing some art for my website. Sadly, but not surprisingly, he was a bit out of my price range. If you have a minute, go poke around his DeviantART page. I particularly like his piece "Crossing the Fords."

The view from Ben Nevis in the UK

This is how I see the mountains that separate Adro from much of the rest of the Nine - they seem to stretch forever into the distance, making you feel insignificant and isolated. I love flying across certain sections of the Rocky Mountains in the US for this same sort of view. Not sure of the photographer, but found here.

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The Charwood Pile Mountain Range that stretches along the western edge of Adro looks a bit like this (in my head). The slabs of rock would be a little more horizontal, like a petrified wood pile for giants, but these are pretty close. No idea where the original came from, but I found this picture on Reddit.

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I love mountains. So sue me.

Apparently Montana looks like this? Wow. Forget all the complaining in the comments about saturation and contrast filters in the comments, I think this is a fantastic picture. Whenever driving through the mountains with my parents as a kid, I always imagined what it was like to hike along the ridges and the valleys and explore every bit of the terrain. This picture makes me do the same.

Weekly Inspiration 9/20/13

Certain things spark the creativity in all of us. Perhaps a smell associated with a powerful memory, or a long walk in the park or a drive through the countryside. Maybe a newspaper article, or a book we read. For me it’s often visual – a piece of fantasy art or a tv show or movie. **If a piece of art or photograph is your work and you’d like it removed, please let me know and I’ll do so ASAP.

So what have I been up to this week in order to get myself inspired? I've hit a bit of a snag in book three, so all sorts of things! First off, I started reading a biography of Napoleon by Alan Forrest. I've not been particularly secretive about the fact that Field Marshal Tamas is based loosely on the lives of both Napoleon and Arthur Wellesley (but far more on Napoleon). So far the book is quite interesting. As one of my side projects is a novella based on Tamas' rise to power, it's a good book for me to be reading.

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I also watched the Millennium series this week. I watched the series on a whim, starting with the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as I'm a huge Daniel Craig fan. I absolutely loved it. The way the movie combined both European and American styles of filmmaking was really cool to me.

I will warn you that the movie is insanely dark. It contains brutal violence and rape, though neither are treated lightly. I fully admit that I couldn't watch some parts. Despite this, the overall payoff of the movie was worth it. It delves deep into the human psyche in a way that very few movies are able. I couldn't help but find the second and third movies (the Swedish versions, as the American ones haven't been made yet) on Netflix and watch them on consecutive evenings.

On a lighter note, here's a cool picture I came across here last weekend. It struck me enough that I decided to save it. It's not particularly majestic or thought-provoking. It's just pretty, and sometimes I need that when I'm looking for inspiration.

This picture is majestic. I found it over here. Not sure about the photographer. I like the snow on the mountains and the trees. It makes me want to go sit by a warm fire (despite the fact that it's 80 degrees outside right now). A picture like this helps me get in the mood for writing. In book three, fall has come to Adro and by the end we'll be deep in winter.

*The photographer is Robert Schmalle, and the original can be found here.

I'm a real big fan of this picture. Of course I like the reflection and the forest, but what I'm particularly fond of is: this is much the vision that someone would have from a boat on the Adsea looking east toward South Pike Mountain. Found here, but as you can see the picture comes from Bay Photography.

Finally, something to make you feel insignificant. Stumbled upon this one in the usual place. It's incredible how tiny the buildings are in this. That water is just dumping on whole towns. I mean, I know it rains every week in many parts of the world, including mine, but to see it from this angle just really shows how incredible it is.

Weekly Inspiration

Certain things spark the creativity in all of us. Perhaps a smell associated with a powerful memory, or a long walk in the park or a drive through the countryside. Maybe a newspaper article, or a book we read. For me it’s often visual – a piece of fantasy art or a tv show or movie. **If a piece of art or photograph is your work and you’d like it removed, please let me know and I’ll do so ASAP.

First off, I read Brandon Sanderson's Hugo-winning novella, The Emperor's Soul, earlier this week. It was a lot of fun. The magic was intricate and interesting, and the characters believable. My only complaint was the very steep learning curve (which fantasy is known for, but which seemed almost too steep for a novella).

I've been mulling over the idea of writing a Powder Mage novella that charts the rise of Field Marshal Tamas, and I wanted to see how Brandon paced his story. Unfortunately the pacing is very different from what I have in mind for this novella, so that didn't help much. Great read, though.

I came across this picture over here, but it seems as if this was the original source. This is just magnificent. Again, it makes me miss the mountains. There's such a beauty and grandeur. I particularly love the way that the sunlight caches the morning mist hanging over the basis. It's like something out of a dream.

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Another one that I came across on Reddit. From what people in the comments are saying, it's likely a composite of two different pictures with some digital touch up. Doesn't matter to me, I still think it's incredible. I find few things as truly awe-inspiring as the infinite wonder of space. All the stars, stretching out into the cosmos, hanging over the mountains like that...

Original source.

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Another gorgeous vista, this time with the mountains in front of the ocean. Strangely enough, this picture reminds me of the first time I saw the ocean in World of Warcraft (laugh all you want). There was just an amazing sense of openness to it; a land I could explore forever. Source.

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I've been looking at a lot of fantasy art on DeviantART lately, in my ongoing quest to commission some cool tie-in artwork for my novels. A lot of these guys are way out of my price range, but I still enjoy looking. In this one I like the sense of that something huge is about to happen. That guy on the front is just about to cut through the army in front of him, while the flyers above swoop down.

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I like to think that a view like this is what inspired C.S. Lewis to create the winter world found in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. There's a deadly beauty to this - sure it's incredible to look at, but fall in that water and you're dead.

The thing that amused me the most about this picture was all the people in the comments arguing over whether or not the photo was over saturated. Not knowing anything about photography, I have no idea what that means.

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Found this one here, but looks like the source is photographer Matthias Haker. Taken in an abandoned European castle, I love how this says "all our splendor will one day turn to dust." The work and the wealth and the love that went into creating this architectural art? It'll be gone some day, just like everything else.

Like looking up at the stars on a clear night, it kind of makes you feel insignificant.