out of the ashes

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Review Of Marvin



5.0 out of 5 stars
(7)

5.0 out of 5 stars The Redemption of Marvin Fuster April 18, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
"Dance of the Spiral Virgins," by Patrick Sean Lee, is a very appealing, enchanting, and heartfelt fantasy told by a polished professional storyteller. This book is an absolute steal at $2.99! It's one of those gems hidden in the indie Kindle file. I don't often read fantasy, but a friend who loves discovering talented, low-cost Kindle titles assured me this book was worth the price. I'm happy I took her recommendation. This lovely tale kept me smiling and entertained from beginning to end.

What you get with this book is the quirky and disarming story of Marvin Q. Fuster. He's an uneducated, homeless, elderly alcoholic rescued by angels. The question for readers is always, why? Why are angels interested in this man's fate? What is their purpose? Why are they intervening to change the course of his life?

The story takes place in the present day in and near downtown Denver, Colorado. In the beginning of the tale, Marvin falls out of a dumpster after a night of binge drinking and ends up in the hospital. He almost dies. While recovering, he has a dream so powerful, so real, so compelling, that it changes his life forever. In the dream he meets Amy and falls in love. She is a gorgeous, entrancing young woman...and astonishingly, she seems interested in him, too.

Marvin wakes up from his dream as a man possessed! He is willing to do everything and anything he can to find Amy and convince her to love him. Of course, there's the huge problem: Marvin is a weathered, wrinkled, gray-haired, sixty-six year old indigent vagrant and Amy (she really does exist) is an exceptionally beautiful and talented young woman. In fact, she is the chief legal assistant to the law firm of Samson and Delilah. Martin believes the only way she'll even give him the time of day is if he manages to reverse the ravages of age and become young once again. Out of the blue, without even praying, Marvin gets some amazing Heavenly help. In an instant, an angel, named Anselm, turns Marvin into a superhuman genius. With more brainpower than Einstein, Marvin embarks on a crash course to solve the DNA riddle of aging.

Now, there is much more complexity to this amazing novel and I don't want to give away anything more than what I have already. Marvin does find Amy and (naturally) she is already involved with a heap of existing relationship problems of her own. And (of course), along the way to discovering the secrets of aging, Marvin befriends another young woman who believes in him and learns to care for him deeply despite his age.

Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Well, I hope I've teased you enough in this brief review so you'll want buy the book and read the whole story for yourself.

The author is far better than the $2.99 price tag. Indeed, this is the type of book that fully deserves the term "enchanting." It invites you to fall into the tale and get lost in the telling. It takes a mighty good storyteller to do that...and a powerfully good writer as well. Patrick Sean Lee shows he is up to the task.

Oh, and about that weird title? It comes from Marvin's dream. The dancing spiral virgins are DNA strands twirling around in Marvin's brain as he tries to figure out the enigma of aging.

"Dance of the Spiral Virgins" is a gentle gem--a captivating, redemptive, and uplifting tale--a story that will make you feel good about life and loving. The author is a wise soul who demonstrates how unexpected, wonderful, and crazy real life can get as we all stumble along gaining our true footing on the path God has designed for us to follow.

Author's note: And Marvin finally did:)
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dynamite advice


Steve Jobs and 5 Tips for Being a Successful Author

Image via segagman Flikr Creative Commons
Image via segagman Flikr Creative Commons
Yesterday, one of our WANA International instructors, Amy Shojai, wrote about the importance of reinvention, and I strongly recommend her class this Saturday (which is recorded if you can’t make the time). Use code: OWFI for $25 off. As authors, we are in a new paradigm that changes faster than we can keep up with it, thus Apple seemed to be a natural segue into the topic of reinvention and excellence.
Yes, Steve Jobs was known as a lot of things, including a tyrant and egomaniac. Yet, no matter how we feel about the man, Jobs remains the poster child for reinvention, and I found some quotes that make great lessons for all of us writers.
Granted, I was inspired by another blog. Last month, I ran across a fantastic post by Tiffany Reisz Wisdom for Writers from Steve Jobs which I strongly recommend you read as well.
Tip #1—Dare to Be Different
One of the major reasons a lot of other computer companies failed is that they tried to take on Microsoft, by being just like Microsoft. Instead of being brave enough to be different, they were imitators.
Imitators are not interesting.
In a world that has an increasingly shorter attention span, we must stand apart from the crowd. As writers, we are artists thus we have the power to create art in our work, not just some tired copy of something else. Be different. Be excellent. Put in that extra effort to stand apart from everything else.
“It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.”~Steve Jobs
Lack of flexibility is one of the current weaknesses in the traditional publishing paradigm. Because this is a business with a lot of overhead (beholden to shareholders), frequently, publishers will look to books they believe they can sell, which is code for “something like the last big thing that sold.” This doesn’t mean these publishers are putting out bad books, but it does mean that their business model limits the boundaries of creativity and innovation.
For those of you who decide to take a non-traditional route, you have more freedom and flexibility to be daring. Daring is exactly what we need to be to stand apart, versus being just another brick in the wall.
Ask yourself, Why me? Why my book? Why would anyone choose my book over another? And if it’s just because of price, prizes or freebies? TRY HARDER.
Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.03.48 AM
One of my all-time favorite Demotivationals.
Tip #2—Dare to Be Excellent
Learn the craft. Read. Learn this as an art form. If you choose to self-publish, find beta readers who can give honest feedback and let you know if your book is ready. One of the biggest mistakes self-published authors make is that they publish too soon. Invest in good editing and a knockout cover. If you blog (and I recommend you do) be excellent. This is a sample of your voice, of you. In a world of cheap Taiwanese imitations, people long for excellence.
When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through. ~Steve Jobs
Ask yourself, Have I done all I can to make this work as good as it can be?
Tip #3—Keep it Simple
New writers often try to reinvent plot as we know it. Three-act structure works. It’s worked for thousands of years. The greatest stories of all time can be summed up in a sentence. Simplicity leads to complexity, where as complicated leads to confusion. Great stories are very basic. There are no new plots. I could hand ten writers a great idea for a story and we’d end up with ten totally different novels. It is all in execution.
Same with social media. WANA methods are simple. Be kind. Be focused. Be consistent. Be authentic. Add value. Be part of a community. Serve others first. That’s it. And yes, I have written a new book, but everything I teach can be summed up in those seven sentences. Algorithms and fancy marketing plans can quickly overrun the most important part of what we do—write books/create art.
That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. ~Steve Jobs
Ask yourself, Could I tell what my book is about in less than three sentences?
Okay, now make it ONE.
Tip #4—Love What You Do
Writers have more opportunity to succeed than ever before. For the first time, we are seeing novelists make six and seven figures. But, if you look at all the successful authors (traditional and non-traditional), they work their tails off. And, the funny thing is, it rarely feels like work. Why? To really do well in this business we have to LOVE IT.
Yet, there is a hard truth about love.
Love is not all kitten hugs and rainbow kisses. Love is work. Love has good days and bad days. Love requires sacrifice. It requires boundaries. It requires prioritization. It demands toughness and tenderness all in the same space. Whether it is our marriage, our family, our kids or our craft, love is not all a glittery unicorn hug.
I speak at a lot of conferences, and I generally can tell the writers who will succeed versus the ones who won’t. One type of writer wants to make hard cash. He loves money more than craft. He attends all the social media classes and marketing classes that promise to maximize his book sales. Sales, sales, charts, algorithms, outsourcing, programs! Yay!
The other writer? She believes writing is floating around with the muse being inspired all day. She is in love with a romantic vision of being a writer…not the craft or business of writing. She doesn’t need social media. “A good book alone will sell itself.”
Uh huh.
Take a gut check and make sure you love writing. If we seek to do this writing thing professionally, then there is a lot of changing diapers writing, staying up cleaning puke out of the carpet revisions,taking the kid to school every day blogging, toy box explosions social media.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. ~Steve Jobs
Ask yourself, Am I willing to do the unfun stuff, too? 
Tip #5—Embrace Failure
We didn’t learn to ride bikes by hopping on one day and pedaling away perfectly. Most of us fell…a lot. We all had our fair share of skinned knees and elbows before we looked like we knew what we were doing. Writing is the same.
If you aren’t failing then you aren’t doing anything interesting. Failure teaches us more than success ever will. Our greatest successes often will be birthed from the ashes of many doomed attempts.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. ~Steve Jobs
Ask yourself, Am I open to learning? Do I view failure as a tombstone or a stepping stone? 
What are your thoughts? What struggles have you faced in the new paradigm? Have you had to learn to set boundaries? How did you do it? What are some of the tips and tricks you’d like to share?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of May, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of May I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!