Sunday, March 13, 2011

My New Job (a.k.a. Why I Haven't Had Any Writing Progress Lately)

I thought I would update everybody on what is new in my life since it has been a little while. The big thing that has taken up my last two weeks has been my new job. I started my job as Visual Inspector at Dow Hydraulics Systems a couple weeks ago and it has been really great. It has been quite an adjustment from not having a job the past few months. The most difficult part about is that it has taken some time getting used to standing all day and constantly looking through a microscope, which can be a strain on my eyes. Basically, what I do all day is look at machine parts and make sure they have no defects. But, throughout the two weeks, I have managed to get used to it and am now really enjoying my job. I love all the people I work with, and although it was a lot to take in during a relatively short period, I feel I'm finally getting the hang of things. Above all, it is just really great to be able to be productive and have something to do each day.

The only downside is that the more I focus on this new job, the less I focus on my writing. Over these past two weeks, I really haven't done any writing (besides revising a couple chapters). So, somehow, I need to learn how to have better balance in my life, so I can spend some time writing each day. I am still really excited about the novel I most recently wrote ("The Elite" is the most recent title, but is still subject to change). I hope to spend some time each day revising it so that I can send it out for close family and friends to read and give me feedback on. The progress is delayed because of my new job, but my hope is to have gone through the novel by about a month from now and at that point to start letting people read it. I am considering starting to write the sequel as I continually revise the first book, but I haven't decided for sure if that is what I am going to do.

And, that is about all for now, I suppose. I'll try to regularly update on the more interesting things that happen in my life and on my progress with my writing, which will hopefully increase substantially in the coming days. I also want to bring your attention to the fact that I have started my music blog "The Leviathan" back up, and will post all music related things there. I am going to try to post fairly regularly there with new album reviews and music recommendations. There are some exciting posts I have planned, and so I hope everyone will take a look. The link to it is available at the top of this blog page underneath the title of this blog. And, that is all I have for now! I hope to write again soon with more news about my writing progress!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Blog: The Leviathan

I have decided to devote an entire blog to my progressive rock music reviews and thoughts. That blog is titled "The Leviathan" and a link has been provided for it in the banner at the top of this blog page. I decided that it was too confusing to have both music reviews and updates about my personal life on this blog, so I have split them up into two blogs. This blog will mostly contain updates about my personal life and my current writing projects. My other blog will focus on the music that I love and will feature album reviews among other things music related. I encourage all that have enjoyed my music posts in the past to go visit that blog. I plan to update both blogs regularly. There should be a new post soon in this blog since there have been some major events that have occurred in my life recently. So, I would hope that readers would read both of my blogs--or, at the very least, the blog that pertains to their particular interests. I hope those who visit my new music blog will enjoy it over there!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

First Draft of "The Chosen" Finished!

I am very excited because today I finished my first draft of my second novel! Just to make it clear, this is not a sequel to my first novel, and is in fact not at all related to my first novel. They are both very different. This book, tentatively called "The Chosen," is essentially a young adult science fiction thriller. It is non-stop action from page one until the end with quite a few twists and turns. The first draft ended up being 85,981 words long, which is just a bit over what my goal was. In the next paragraph I'm going to give a very brief description of the book (basically a blurb like what you would read on the back of the book). If you don't want any spoilers on the book because you want to read it and figure it out for yourself, don't read the next paragraph.

The story follows Anthony Taylor, a young teen who is about as average as they come. His parents have recently divorced and he lives in New York with his mom. Out of the blue, his father calls and wants Tony to come visit him at his new apartment in Los Angeles. So, Tony takes the train from New York to Los Angeles, and finds himself the sole survivor of a mysterious train accident. What follows is a non-stop thrill ride where Anthony discovers that the train crashing was no accident and he is actually being tested by some mysterious group called 'The Chosen.' Who is this mysterious group? What is the purpose of the tests they are putting Tony through? These are questions Tony tries to answer as he ends up in the middle of several terrifying disasters. Through sheer determination and the help of three unlikely friends, can Tony survive long enough to figure out who 'The Chosen' are and what they want with him?

The thing I am most proud of with this book are the four main characters, whom I believe are fairly complex. I am excited to flesh out these characters even more as I revise the novel several times. I'm also considering changing the name of the group the book centers around (and therefore the books title). I am considering changing it to "The Elite" or "The Elect." At the moment I am leaning towards "The Elect." I hope to revise the book over the next few weeks and allow some of my closest friends and family to read it and give me feedback on how I can improve it. Hopefully by the end of the summer or so I will feel confident enough in it that I might try to get it published. If anybody who reads this blog is interested in reading a very rough, early draft of my book, please comment or e-mail me. It'll probably be a few weeks, though, since I'd like to go through and revise it at least once before I let people read it.

But, I am very excited, and can't wait to continue working on it, and perhaps even start thinking of ideas for a potential sequel...

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I just wanted to write a short entry to let people know that I'm still alive and well and that I plan to write even more in the near future in this blog. This past month has not been particularly eventful. The one event that stands out is that I went to the LA A Capella Festival this past weekend. The LA/AF is a day long event for people who want to be in A Capella groups or are fans of A Capella. All day there are different classes that can be attended to help teach people more about A Capella and how to be in a successful group. I didn't attend the classes, but I went with my dad to the concert they had that night featuring different A Capella groups. The event took place on the UCLA campus, and it ended up being really fun to visit. The was one of my dad's Christmas gifts to me, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect.

It ended up being rather incredible. First a local group from UCLA opened the show and they performed two songs. The first was an original, and then they did a Backstreet Boys medley that was a lot of fun. Second was the group, The Backbeats, who placed third on The Sing-Off. They performed every song they performed on the Sing-Off plus a fun rendition of California Girls by Katy Perry, which they were not able to perform on the show. They were excellent, I particularly enjoyed their heartfelt take on Landslide by Fleetwood Mac.

Next up was one of the most interesting acts, it was actually one man who did some incredible beatboxing that sounded like an actual drum kit. Then, he played around with a loop machine so that he was able to sing over his own beats. It was really awesome, he must be one of the best at what he does. The final act was the amazing Mosaic. They played a very diverse set of songs that included Jazz, R&B, Pop and even Opera. They were tons of fun and played off the audience. Their voices blended together perfectly. There were moments were the harmonies gave me goosebumps. They were extremely awesome and I wouldn't mind seeing them again. Besides that concert, nothing much eventful has happened in the past month.

I suppose a big thing is that I've made significant progress writing in my book. I passed the halfway mark and am well on my way to reaching my goal of finishing the first draft of my novel. I really think it is coming along nicely. I love the four main characters and am having a ton of fun writing for all of them. Their interactions are a lot of fun, and I think they are all really different. I think there is a good blend of action and humor in this book. It never stops moving, the characters continually are finding themselves in difficult situations. I can't wait to finish the book and start planning a sequel.

The other news that I can think of is that I've heard a lot of new music recently that I love. I wrote a review of "The King Is Dead" by The Decemberists. I plan to write several more reviews in the upcoming week. I have albums by Pallas, Magic Pie, and Hotel of the Laughing Tree that I should review soon. I've also come across a magical new discovery. The band is named Reign of Kindo and they are completely amazing. They are very different from the music I typically like. They lean more towards Jazz and Pop than they do Prog. But, there is just something really special in the band and they have created some really beautiful music. I may do an entry about their music where I review their albums, including their most recent album, which I think is a masterpiece, perhaps one of my top 20 favorite all-time records.

So, that is pretty much the updates for right now. I hope to write a lot more in the coming days!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Report on Progress For "The Chosen"

I have been writing quite a bit the last few weeks in my latest novel, tentatively called "The Chosen." I'm getting really excited about this project and have high hopes for it. I've decided to really focus in on writing this novel and set a goal for when I want to finish the first draft. I want to be done with it by the last day of February (February 28th). I have currently written about 25,000 words, and my goal is to reach 80,000 words for the first draft (of course, it may be a little less or a little more depending on how the story naturally develops, but I feel a word count goal helps provide a foundation for which to write the book).

So, that means that I have 55,000 words still to write. I have about 40 days left to reach my goal. So, this means I have to write an average of 1375 words a day in order to reach my goal. That seems very reasonable to me. So, that is my goal starting right now. I might even try to finish sooner than that just by writing a little more than my daily goal each day. But, I'm hoping if I make sure to write a minimum of 1375 words each day, that I'll easily be finished with the first draft in a timely manner.

I want to give more information about what the novel is about, but I think I'm going to wait a bit for that. I will say that I have recently added a couple new characters, and I think it has really given the book a creative boost that it has needed. One of my main goals when writing anything is to create some fascinating characters that the reader really feels sympathy for and really gets to know as if it were a real person. I always worry that if I have too many characters, it makes it so that each character is less complex since less time is spent on each character. But, if there are too few characters, then it could be boring. So, I think I've struck just the right balance for this story, and I'm excited. I hope to finish it soon so that I can show people what I have been working on.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Top Ten Experiences of 2010

Ok, this is my final year-end list for 2010. I decided that I would rank the top ten experiences I had in 2010. As I reflected on 2010, I came to the conclusion that it was a difficult year for me. But, several highlights came to mind that occurred throughout the year that made me realize the year wasn't as bad as I originally made it out to be. So, I thought I would highlight those good experiences in a list. So, these are my big ten experiences of the year listed in order of significance in my mind.

10. Christmas Morning

This was an unexpected, late addition to my list, but I think it is worthy of mentioning. My family had an excellent Christmas this year, one of the best in recent memory. After a difficult year, it was refreshing to see that what is truly important stayed intact--my family. We all gave each other gifts that we thought those people receiving them would love and I'd say that every gift was a success. One of the definite highlights was a video Christmas card my sister, Alex, made. It had everyone in tears and was a perfect example of why my family is so special. My mom cried several times that morning. My dad got probably his best present ever--an iPad. And, my dad even pulled out great "bonus" gifts for us kids after we thought all the Christmas gifts had been opened. It was a magical time and was a great moment for my family.

9. New Spock's Beard Album and Concert

This is sort of a two in one experience. First of all, I was really excited to receive the new Spock's Beard album since it had been several years since their last album and my friend had ordered the special deluxe edition of the album for me for Christmas, which included a song where the lead singer would sing my name. After so much buildup, I was worried the album would never meet my high expectations, but it actually exceeded them! The album is one of my favorites of all time. It showed me that my favorite band still has the talent to produce masterpieces, even without their main front man and song-writer, Neal Morse, who left the band a while ago. Later in the year, I had the privilege of seeing Spock's Beard live with my dad. They played the entire new album plus some old favorites. Spock's Beard was one of the main bands I always wanted to see live, so it was a dream come true and they did excellent.

8. My Sister's Graduation
I was very excited to be able to attend Alex's graduation this year. She went to Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena and did an excellent job in the program. She uses what she learned there on a daily basis as she has been making cakes for people for various events. It is really cool to see my sister pursue something she is passionate about and to succeed. She is an inspiration to me. It was an awesome experience to be in the audience along with my dad, mom, sister, grandparents and some of Alex's friends, and cheer her on. I know she will do great things with her degree in the future.

7. The Finale of Lost
I know this may seem like a weird experience to include here, but I feel it is a significant one. Lost is my favorite TV show of all time. I am regularly astounded by what the writers come up with and how the actors portray their characters perfectly. I love every minute of the show and felt that they had an incredible final season. I was really excited to watch the finale, and I knew that it was going to be special. It really exceeded my absurdly high expectations. I'll admit that I cried several times throughout the finale, and especially at the very end. It was the perfect ending. I couldn't have imagined a better ending. It really touched me and allowed me to think about things in a new way. I will never forget Lost and how special it is to me and I'm sure I'll be re-watching it for the rest of my life.

6. My Best Friend, Kevin, Proposing To Amy
Yes, this is more an experience that my friend, Kevin and his fiancee, Amy, had. But, I feel that it was significant for me as well. Kevin came to California with Amy to see Phantom of the Opera and go to Disneyland with Amy. Since he was in California, he stayed at my house during the weekend he was here. I was privileged to know in advance that he was planning to propose to Amy and I was really excited for him to come and for it all to happen. Based on his description, it didn't go perfectly according to plan, but it all ended up working out even better and was a magical experience. I am really happy for Kevin and excited for his future. I'll never forget him driving us home in intense fog right after he had proposed. His excitement was really cool to see and I know that they are a perfect match for each other. I'm sure his wedding in 2011 will be in my top ten experiences of 2011.

5. My Parents Vow Renewal
As my mom's big Christmas gift in 2009, my dad announced that the whole family would be getting together on Valentine's weekend in 2010 in Las Vegas for my parents getting their wedding vows renewed. Now, I'll admit that I wasn't in a great mood this trip. I was nervous about driving in Las Vegas and was still sad about the break up with my girlfriend. But, it was a very significant moment for my family, and my parents in particular. I was a little scared about the idea of a vow renewal in Vegas because I thought it might be cheesy, but it ended up being really sweet. It was nice to see the love my parents have for each other. Any experience that strengthens my family is an important one and this is no exception.

4. Going To Disneyworld

Me and Kevin decided that it would be really cool to go on a vacation to celebrate our graduation from BYU. We decided that the best idea would be to go to Disneyworld, and it ended up being the perfect choice. We spent a week there and I feel that we were able to do everything we wanted to do there. We visited every park, most of them twice, and went on all the rides we wanted to (well, at least all the rides I'm comfortable going on). It would be impossible to list all the highlights of the trip because they were all highlights. We even got to see Erin while we were there since she worked there last year. I really love Disneyworld, and even though it doesn't have the same "Disney magic" as Disneyland, there is a lot to love about it and I feel it was a very successful trip.

3. The Transatlantic Concert
If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would be able to see Transatlantic live in two years, I would have laughed and thought it was a joke. But, this actually happened last year! After an 8 year hiatus, my favorite band, Transatlantic, reunited to make my new favorite album, The Whirlwind. And, if that wasn't enough already, in 2010 they toured the album and made a stop in Southern California. Of course me and Kevin jumped at the opportunity to see them. The concert was a magical experience. I can't even describe the feelings I had of pure joy as I listened to the incredible music that was played. They played their whole new album and then all the epics from their previous album. It was over 3 hours of the best prog music, and it was incredible. By far the best concert I have ever been to. I can't imagine it being beat any time soon.

2. Completing My First Novel
I have always had a dream of becoming a successful writer. This year, I finally made a goal for myself to finish the book I've been writing, and I was able to do it. It was a huge achievement for me and I am so proud of myself for doing it. The book (called Avaria Book 1: The Sacrifice) is something that is very close to my heart. I started writing it for a creative writing class I took at BYU. I didn't write in it for a while, but decided to pick it back up in 2010, and I was able to motivate myself throughout the year to finish it. What is significant about this is that it has shown me that I do indeed have a passion for writing. I am going to try really hard to keep up a rigorous schedule of writing and pursue a career in it. I'm excited for the novels I am working on right now and I soon hope to try to get some of my work published. I realize that there is a good chance I won't ever be published and I know it'll take quite some time to get there, but finishing my first novel has given me the desire to work really hard in order to get there, and that is a huge deal for me.

1. Graduating From BYU

By far, my biggest accomplishment this year was graduating from BYU. I received a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. It was a long road to get to that point with a lot of uncertainty and hardships, but I endured and managed to graduate. The last semester of my college education seemed particularly challenging, mainly because I needed a capstone course in order to graduate and I had a lot of difficulty finding a class that would work for my major. But, through sheer determination, I found the perfect class for me and even ended the last semester with a 4.0 GPA, which is something I always wanted in college. I struggled partway through college in declaring a major, but decided to stick with Psychology. I am grateful for the classes I took in Psychology and believe that they will help me in my future career and life in general. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet career-wise, but I know that having a degree and having the experiences I had in order to get that degree will help me in achieving my future goals.

And, there you have it, my top ten experiences of the year. When I look at these experiences, I realize that the year actually wasn't as bad as I make it out to be in my head. Hopefully I can have as many (or more) great experiences in 2011!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Top Five Movies of 2010

I almost decided not to do a list of movies, because I couldn't really think of 10 great movies from 2010 (not because there weren't that many great movies, but because I didn't see that many new movies). But, I decided to compromise and instead do a list of 5 films that I saw in 2010 that I thought were really excellent. So, here is my list of the top 5 films of 2010:

5. Tangled

I am surprised that this movie made my top five, but I really loved it. I felt the romance between Flynn and Rapunzel was very well done. I loved the scene where they see the lanterns. It is Rapunzel's dream come true, and also the moment Flynn realizes that he wants Rapunzel more than the tiara. It is a beautiful moment full of movie magic. I am impressed with Disney, there was a long period where Disney movies were not very good, but I feel they are slowly restoring that Disney magic they once had. I felt the magic at moments of this movie, and it helped that there were really funny moments throughout the film as well.

4. Toy Story 3

I absolutely adore Pixar. Some of their films (Wall-e, Up) are some of my favorites of all time. I was a little concerned when I saw that their next film was going to be a Toy Story sequel. Toy Story 2 was really good, but could they really keep up that same quality for a third film? The answer is a giant yes. This movie has all the trademarks that I've come to love from the Toy Story films. There are laugh out loud funny moments, but also really emotional moments that surprisingly brought a tear to my eye. I was more than happy to follow the toys on this third journey, but I kind of hope that it ends here, because this was the perfect ending for the trilogy.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

This is perhaps my favorite Harry Potter movie so far. I loved the first two movies, felt that the third and fourth movies were a little weak, but starting with the fifth movie, they have been steadily improving. I thought this movie would be a challenge since a lot of the book takes place in the wilderness where Harry, Ron and Hermione are alone in a tent. But, I felt it was done really well and allowed for the film to really delve into the main three characters and how they are dealing with this extremely difficult situation. There are still moments of humor, but also moments of sadness and uncertainty. It is a great buildup to what I hope is a great final film to the series.

2. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

This movie was the most fun I've had in a movie theater this year, and perhaps ranks up there with my best all-time movie going experiences. This movie is pure eye candy, there are so many things that are just fun to watch. I had a smile on my face the entire time. The concept is very original, where the characters are in some kind of video game/comic book type world. The main character often breaks out into fights with his girlfriend's evil exes. There is a lot of great humor and action, and I just really enjoy this movie immensely.

1. Inception

Inception is by far my favorite movie of the year, and one of my all-time favorite movies. I love movies that are really creative and make you think. The concept of being able to enter dreams (and even dreams within dreams) is a really cool concept and I feel it was explored really well. The ending leaves some room for interpretation as well, and I like thinking about what the ending could mean. This movie expanded my mind and gave me some creative fuel in regards to my own writing projects. I loved it and can't wait to see it again.