Monday, June 25, 2012

I Love to Learn

For those of you who don't know me personally, I am a huge fan of learning and education. After all, I'm married to a college professor. Recently, we subscribed to digital cable and I've discovered some great shows on the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel. My two favorite shows are Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman (on the Science Channel) and Head Games (on the Discovery Channel).

In my youth, during high school, I didn't apply myself. In fact, I hated school. I thought education (at least in an academic setting) was pointless. In my naivete, I thought trigonometry and calculus wouldn't help me in any career I could imagine for myself. In addition, I didn't see how any knowledge of Chemistry with its periodic table of elements, or any knowledge of Astronomy would be beneficial in the business world at all. Math and I didn't get along well, either. I'd say math was, single-handly, my worst subject, although, I did ace, go figure.

However, as I've gotten older, I've learned how stupid my mindset was in my youth. Since serving in the Army, I came to realize how important education is. One of the skills I learned in the military was not only how to be self-sufficient, but how to teach myself. Since my discharge, I've taught myself computer programming (and embarked on a career as a software developer)! I read voraciously, both for entertainment as well as to further my knowledge.

Recently, I've purchased books by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, David Eagleman, and Stephen Hawking to name but a few. I also purchased an introductory book on Chemistry and some books on mathematics to help me develop a better relationship with my old nemesis. I want to learn! Education is an equal opportunity friend. It doesn't discriminate based on age. No matter how much you might've hated it in your youth, as I did, education is always there, waiting for you to embrace it. That's what I hope to do now and until the end: embrace education and learn all that I can.

It saddens me to meet someone who embraces ignorance. I hope you're not one of those people, that you also feel a love for education. This might seem very disparate coming from a guy who writes fiction, but not only do I strive to write entertaining stories, I also try to invoke thought in my readers. In my latest novel, The Old Royal, I touch on the aspect of time travel and the various problems one might encounter if we could visit the past.

In my previous post, I apologized for not posting recently and explained that I was attempting to brew some beer during my absence. In fact, I'm doing a lot of different things. I've got several irons in the fire, as they say. With learning math, Spanish, some Chemistry, et al. I've been a busy guy. Hopefully, I won't neglect to post on this blog any time soon. I hope you'll forgive me. In the meantime, if you haven't already gotten my novel, The Old Royal, perhaps you'll indulge me and pick up a copy. Also, let me leave you with a couple of videos. They're quite eye-opening...and fun! Thanks for stopping by!

Through the Wormhole: Is Time Travel Possible?

Chemists from the University of Nottingham explain the element Sodium and its reactions:

The Joys of Brewing Beer

Sorry I haven't posted anything lately. I've been busy doing things with my son who is visiting me for the summer. Typically, I think my son occupies his free time playing video games and not much else. In an attempt to interject some variety into his adolescent life, I decided to let him help me brew a batch of beer.

For my birthday, my wife bought me a beer brewing kit. The kit she selected was a chocolate milk stout from Craft-A-Brew. Below are a few pictures I took of the initial process which only took about an hour and a half to complete.

Steeping the hops:

Fermentation (with carboy):

Another shot of the carboy:

Fermentation with carboy and overflow tube:

I haven't taken any pictures since the initial fermentation process and I'll admit that I think I did something wrong somewhere along the way. The fermentation process went well, I think. The overflow tube bubbled in the glass of water, letting the gases escape and I got a nice build up of suds. However, the suds died down after I installed the breather cap (I think this is supposed to act as a relief valve of sorts). I added the cocoa nibs a week ago per the instructions and have another week to go before the beer is supposed to be ready. However, there doesn't seem to be any carbonation in the carboy and I can see a small layer of sediment in the bottom, which leads me to believe I've screwed up this batch in some way.

I guess I'll find out in a week's time whether or not I screwed it up. If so, I'll purchase another kit and try it again. In the meantime, I have some professionally brewed craft beer in the refrigerator to enjoy. I hope I can eventually create a batch that I've brewed myself as it would be cool to have created some fine beer myself.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's official: The Old Royal has been released!

Yes, you read that correctly. I have finally released The Old Royal. The release that seemed like it would never happen finally did.

Currently, The Old Royal can be found on Amazon, Smashwords, and, for those of you who prefer a physical copy, a paperback edition is available at CreateSpace. Barnes & Noble, as usual, is dragging their feet. I uploaded the necessary files yesterday, and still, they haven't gotten around to making it available. I promise, as soon as B&N gets around to releasing it, I will update my webpage for The Old Royal.

As a special bonus for my readers, I've created a discount coupon over at Smashwords. The coupon will save you 80% off the cover price ($4.99 US), which means you can have a copy for the low, low price of a buck ($1 US)! When checking out, just enter coupon code KN34M to save some dinero.

The Old Royal is a story about Anthony Jessup, a daydreamer working at a dead-end job as a helpdesk technician. Anthony dreams of becoming a famous novelist like his idol, Roger Kurrey. However, Anthony's stories only receive rejections from editors he submits them to.

When Anthony receives an antique Royal typewriter as a gift, Anthony soon discovers that the typewriter has the ability to send him into the past. Anthony devises a plan to turn his dream into a reality, but it comes at a price!

If you could change the past, would you? If so, at what cost?

I hope you'll take advantage of the coupon and grab yourself a copy of The Old Royal. If you enjoyed it, I encourage you to tell your friends and, hopefully, leave a review wherever you obtained your copy. It would certainly help me out. As always, thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury - truly one of the greats

It seems like I've done several remembrance posts lately. I'll be honest, I don't like doing them; they remind me too much of my own mortality.

Today, we lost one of the truly greatest authors of our time, Ray Bradbury, who died at the age of 91. I was first introduced to Ray Bradbury when I was a kid. I didn't read one of his works, but rather, I watched a televised version on Ray Bradbury Theater. That story, Mars is Heaven, has stuck with me ever since (also, I've included at the bottom of this post. Although it's in 3 parts, I encourage you to watch it). The only story since then that has taken its place on my mental pedestal was Octavia Butler's Bloodchild, a truly spectacular work of art!

Since watching that TV episode, I have read several of Bradbury's books throughout the years. I love Fahrenheit 451 as a futuristic dystopia, and sometimes fear that it may actually come true. In addition, I enjoyed Something Wicked This Way Comes, both the book and the movie! There are still some of his stories I haven't read and, in memory of Mr. Bradbury, I may just have to move those up in my reading queue.

So, as promised, here is that version of Mars is Heaven. Please, take the time to watch all three parts. I promise, you won't regret it. Thanks for stopping by!

Mars is Heaven, part I

Mars is Heaven, part II

Mars is Heaven, part III

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Georgia Renaissance Festival

Today was the last day of the Georgia Renaissance Festival. I've never been to a Renaissance Festival (nor has my youngest son, Sean), so we went today with my wife, who has been several times. I didn't have high expectations. I imagined it would be full of LARPers and other über geeks. I wasn't too far wrong about the geeks, but there were also plenty of people dressed in period garb, which means corsets and boobs.

I'm a big fan of boobs, so that aspect was extra cool. On the other hand, there are some boobs that shouldn't be on display and not even a corset can help. But, even those were on display. The costumes are neat and so are all the various wares for sale, from swords, to suits of armor, to everything you can imagine deep-fried and served on a stick.

I had a fun time. So did my wife and son. I hope to go back next year now that I've had the chance to experience it. If you've never been and enjoy a lively atmosphere of jousting and geeks in costumes, I encourage you to go.

And, since this is an author's blog, I imagine you are here to read something about the next book I've been discussing. That book would be The Old Royal. I have good news to share: the book's release will most likely be sometime next week, June 10 through 16. I've gone through the paperback proof, made changes, and am waiting for the second proof before giving it the final go ahead. Also, I've formatted the digital version, but haven't yet viewed the final product in various reading devices. I plan to do that this week and make any necessary tweaks. So, I hope you will check back in a week and get your copy. As always, thanks for stopping by.