Birth by Flame Cover and Release Date

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Hello everyone!

I’m really excited to announce that I do have a release date for my novel Birth by Flame.  Everyone interested in reading should be sure to check it out on their favorite e-reader on September 30.

Be sure to look for this cover when you look for the book!

Birth By Flame Cover

The cover was designed by my amazing little sister and I honestly think it looks amazing.  I hope you all like it and pick it up with Birth by Flame September 30!

Welcome to Uhezote

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It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Well, school started back up and senior year is pretty crazy.  Birth by Flame is still on track to be released this fall, so keep looking forward to that.

Before Birth by Flame is released this fall, I’ll be giving you a sneak peek into the world of the book.  Today, learn more about Uhezote, the world in which Birth By Flame takes place.

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Let’s Talk About Something…

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The recent scandal regarding Walter Palmer and Cecil the lion has highlighted a problem I’ve become more irritated with over my time on the Internet.  What I’m about to say isn’t new but it’s something I want to share.

The Internet is a wonderful place for many reasons, and one of its greatest assets is how it democratizes opinion.  The majority of the readers of this blog are from the United States, but even then, they’re a wider audience than what I could hope to achieve with just my immediate friends and family.  My voice, that of a high school senior from California, is held in the same sphere as foreign dignitaries, high-ranking politicians, world famous authors and actors, and millions of other people.  It can be truly humbling.

However, because every opinion is given a chance to coexist, it gives a megaphone to people with “interesting” views.  The person dead center on the political spectrum gets the same voice as the leftest of the left and the rightest of the right.  Couple that with the anonymity provided on the Internet and you have a massive combination of people from all perspectives.

Which can be great!  I’m glad that so many people can get access to thoughts and ideas they may otherwise not have been exposed to through the Internet.  But, this leans people to hyperbolize and exaggerate in order to get their point across.  So, when something like the Walter Palmer scandal comes up, what do we do?

Do we try to understand the economic situations that have led to companies in countries like Zimbabwe selling big game hunting permits?

Do we take a step back to reevaluate our society’s perception of wild animals and why we treat them so highly?

Do we think about why someone would want to go to Africa and hunt animals for sport, maybe connecting it back to ideas of imperialism and thinking of the way we view modern-day Africa and how that may be linked to European imperialism.

No.  Of course not.

We go on Twitter and make death threats against him.

We go on Yelp and utterly destroy his business.

We go on the Internet and tarnish a guy’s reputation so badly, Zimbabwe is actually worried it might damage relations with the U.S.

Of course that’s what we do.

I’m not defending Walter Palmer or attacking people who are outraged over this shooting.  What I am attacking is the way the outrage was directed.

The Internet is a great tool for communication, yes, but it’s also a dangerous one.  This blog is lucky that it’s free from restrictions on word count.  I can practically talk until I feel I’m done.  Twitter doesn’t have that luxury.  It’s difficult to have a well-researched and cogent opinion in 140 characters.  I get that.  Twitter is akin to a megaphone.  Anything you say will be projected loud and maybe slightly muffled, but the one thing you can do with it is shout.

And shouting is the last thing we want when something like this happens.  We need to discuss why this happened and whether this was an isolated case or part of a trend.  Shouting makes you feel good for a bit, but accomplishes nothing.  Discussion can be difficult, but it gets results.

There are numerous cases where people took to shouting as opposed to discussion.  The recent spotlight on police brutality has only really developed discussion because of the volume of cases.  There’s only so many times one can be outraged before you notice it won’t go away because of your outrage.  Each of those cases, though, created more that their fair share of outrage, and rightly so.

If you take away nothing else from this, remember: it’s okay to be outraged.  It’s okay to feel strongly about something.  But if all you are is angry, nothing will change.  Things will change fastest when you calm down so we can discuss.

Happy Fourth of July! Also, Book Progress

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If you’re not American, I wish you a very pleasant Saturday.  If you are, happy Independence Day!  I wish you good fireworks, food and time with friends or family.  Just remember to stay safe.

Yesterday, I had a bunch of my friends come over to give me some feedback on Birth By Flame.  To be blunt, they enjoyed it, but also really tore into it.  Which was good.  This book has been in my head for so long that it was really necessary for more people to look at it.  I feel like when something has been kept to yourself for so long, it’s really easy to overlook something really essential for the reader.  Having people who don’t know everything about this world (which frankly, I don’t even know everything) asking “Why?” or “Wait, what?” was insanely helpful.  Really, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your comments and inside jokes.

Now, while this means I do still have some work to do, rest assured, Birth by Flame, is still going to be released fall 2015.

Once again, happy Fourth of July everyone!

Happy 10th Anniversary, Percy Jackson

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Ten years ago, a little book called Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief was released.

Wow.

It’s amazing to me that it’s already been ten years since this series started.  Now, I didn’t start reading as soon as this series began, but I’ve been reading Riordan’s fun reinvention of Greek mythology for most of its run.  It and its sequel, Heroes of Olympus, are filled with fascinating characters in an engrossing world.  Riordan took the real world and made us kids reading look at it in a different way than we did before.

This book was really something special to a middle-schooler reading it for the first time.  I fell in love with this book and waited on the edge of my seat between finishing the latest book and waiting for the next.  My friends and I would pass the books around to each other and devour them in a few days before coming back to talk about what happened out of earshot of the kid who just got the book.  We’d quote them to each other, make jokes about them, talk about our favorite parts and what parts made us angry.

In short, we were a fandom before I think any of us really knew what a fandom was.

The Lightning Thief was also one of those books I read around the time I decided I wanted to be a writer.  So, while I can’t pinpoint any book that directly influenced me in that decision or the decisions that lead to Birth By Flame being what it is, but Riordan and Jackson were among that group.

So, happy anniversary, Rick.  Here’s to ten more years.