It’s Finally Here

I find it difficult to describe the effort it takes to create a novel, edit it, rewrite, redraft, and worry the whole time whether it will be enjoyed or vilified. Then, after all that, the hours spent formatting the layout, obsessing over spacing, indentation, and calculating page counts, remembering to insert promotional materials for past and upcoming works. Now, find an artist and stress over cover art, back cover promotional language and decide whether to include a selfie. Go online: two separate websites, two completely different processes to publish paperback. Hard cover? Yeah, right! EPub? Sure, but previous formatting doesn’t work here, work it all over. Again.

Imagine that for every word published, over a minute is spent in a sound studio, reading aloud, stumbling over those awkward phrases, and forgetting the pitch and tonality used previously for that character, editing out goofs, inbreaths, sighs, coughs, sneezes, and explicative made in frustration at the umpteenth mistake, compiling chapters, prelude, endings, and more promotional materials. And waiting for uploads and initial analysis, more editing, and more submitting. Once you think you’re done and everything is ready for sales, yes, there’s more waiting while more analysis and review is queued and processed. Oh, yeah, just try and make a male baritone sound like, um, you know, a teenaged daughter. I mean, come on, really, how hard can it be? It’s not like it’s rocket science, or anything like that, is it?

There were days when it felt that way. Finally, it’s done. Complete. Finished. Published, and awaiting sales. Yeah, you can find it here, here, or listen to it here.

Think I’m done, yet? No way! Now I have to promote it, in a day when social distancing is both ignored and required, when assembly is discouraged and feared. Book signings a thing of the past? Yep. Will they come back? Hard to say, even after vaccinations are handed out. Will last years’ conventions, postponed due to the pandemic, occur this year? Will we rub shoulders and take in the ambiance of the hallway, enjoy the atmosphere and table conversations over dinner? Or will I sit in my living room, promotional material as a backdrop, and hope people follow the link to my corner of the universe? Undetermined.

Will I continue writing, voicing, creating images and movies? Absolutely. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Do I care about making money? For now, no, I’m interested in perfecting my craft. Ahem, crafts. Do I have enough time for all this? The only deadlines I have are the ones I’ve placed on myself.

Who’s Who Did It Again

The folks at Marquis Who’s Who recently announced my inclusion in their Top Professional Series. You can find the link here.

It is both an honor and a privilege to be recognized for years of dedication and effort. As I look into my crystal ball and divine the future, my optimism in humanity wanes, until something like this sends a shock-wave through my system.

I’ll admit, this year frustrated me to my core. While I sit in my living room everyday and enjoy the work environment more than the cube-farm, I had planned, paid for, awaited and anticipated face-to-face contact with potential readers. I know, as a writer with extrovert personality traits, a rarity to be sure, I struggle to market my writings from isolation. Some days, the isolation melts into desolation.

From those pits of despair rise ideas, fueled by humanity acting in surprising ways. In the coming weeks, keep an eye on this blog. Announcements of more YouTube videos are in the works. More bloopers are coming to make you laugh. And innovation. Multiple media co-mingling with the creativity of grammar is churning new ideas. If working as a writer of software and science fiction, voice acting, marketing director and entrepreneur isn’t keeping me busy enough, wait until you see what else I’m planning!

Bloopers Reel

As I venture into the world of Voice Acting and Narration, I have learned a few things. The most important lesson is: never, ever take yourself seriously. We all make mistakes, and nowhere are they more apparent than when you record yourself. Try as you might, you will error.

So, if you’re going to fail, why not fail huge? Fail with Gusto! Fail magnanimously, fail with enthusiasm. If nothing more, you’ll have stories to tell.

If you’re interested, join me on my new YouTube channel where you can witness me making mistakes.

League Of Utah Writers Presenter!

I have been selected to create a video presentation by the League of Utah Writers! The presentation is part of their 85th Annual Quills Conference. I’ll rub shoulders with the likes of Jonathan Maberry, Cat Rambo (Keynote Speakers), and others! Look for more here. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be refining and recording my presentation, How Technology Affects Future Creativity.

Will The Madness Ever End?

Like many of you, I sit in my living room, wondering when this pandemic will be over. For me, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. I announced the release of my debut novel (stop by here for details) and was preparing for a launch party/book signing when government authorities issued the stay at home order.

Over the years, I’ve seen the ashes of Mount Saint Helen turn noon into midnight, rumbled and shook with the Loma Prieta earthquake, watched in helplessness as the Missouri and Mississippi rivers flooded for miles. I’ve never seen grocery shelves this empty, can’t remember a time when so much panic rode the multimedia spectrum.

Maybe it’s a reflection of the technological advances of recent years. Or maybe, as I get older and face my mortality, death stares back a little more than in my optimistic and jubilant youth. Either way, we must find things to laugh about. So I thought I would immortalize a couple that made me laugh.

In General Conference, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints announced a new logo, depicting the resurrected Savior. Good for them, but poor Moroni. Man, what a bummer. Drop the trumpet once in two hundred years, and he’s fired!

COVID-19 is turning us all into dogs: we roam the house all day looking for food, approach strangers and get told, “No!” and our excitement escalates at the mention of a car ride!

Praises to the hundreds keeping us safe, fed, and healthy! Shout it from the mountains and rooftops. Express your gratitude to those delivering packages, parcels, and, yes, even bills. Without you, the silence of the days would be unbearable.

An Explosive Personality

It is rare to find a woman who is calm on the exterior but suddenly becomes spontaneous. Troubled waters below a thin surface, she is challenging to predict even to those who know her best.

She is extremely curious but unable to stay focused, loyal, and steady for a while. Under the calm surface, impulsive energy is building until it explodes with her taking bold new directions, new men, and new interests.

While at heart is a strong sense of fairness, she often acts too soon. She becomes overly involved in others’ projects, but become bored quickly changing plans because something more interesting captivated her attention.

Personally, I love this personality type is a supporting character. The challenge to myself is to write a protagonist or antagonist bearing this personality. Herein I must reach beyond myself and understand there is no deceit in short-term loyalty replaced by something more interesting. Impulsivity is not my forte, and losing focus has never been my challenge. To adopt these opposites will stretch my soul. Fortunately, I relish the idea and readily accept the quest. Can you?

Emotional Hypochondria

Character-driven stories not only must present characters with a well-defined protagonist and antagonist. The characters themselves cannot appear ‘perfect’ to our readers. Characters must have flaws.

What would happen, then, if you presented an antagonist who is an organized extrovert, who intuitively analyzes complex topics, and approaches his or her future using strategic, subjective criteria? In other words, a natural leader whose major flaw is transposing other people’s problems onto him- or herself. Here we have a leader too involved and getting caught up in another person’s plight and begins trying to fix something in themself that doesn’t need correcting.
In all of the research into characterization that I have done over the last few years without exception identifies one central point. As a story-crafter, the more detail we know about our characters before we write them onto the pages of our history, more masterful people, not caricatures, will inhabit our universe.

Okay, okay, okay! I hear you, as a pantser, did I not just lay down an argument for plotting? Admittedly, yes. And, no. Having an in-depth knowledge of the people in our stories does not dictate what they will do, nor does it pigeon-hole them into behaving in specific ways. The beauty of human nature is diversity in thought, word, and deed.

Personality types do not dictate how our creations will behave. They are guidelines suggesting possibilities. Our job, the enjoyable part of what we do every day, is crafting plausible arcs. Knowing these things along the way makes it easier by giving us more possibilities to work with.

New Year, New Publication

Years in the making, it is finally here! 05 Jan 2020, author J.M. Cullen announces the release of Unlikely, the first in a series of technological wanderings throughout history.

Cameron and Crystal are two scientists experimenting in long-range, high-speed communications equipment. An explosion allows them to interact with the Yucatan Peninsula 375 A.D. At City of Dawn, they follow a Warrior-Leader and his father creating the Dzinuhu Amoxtli—A Precious Yellow-Metal Book.

Watch an aspiring priest who believes they also possess the Mahan Codex—secrets to power handed down by the Father of Lies—who will stop at nothing to obtain it for himself. Follow ancient warriors battling political intrigue, insurrection, and betrayal as the mighty Mayan empire tears itself apart. Struggle with heroes from different eras as they fight for the right to survive.

The novel is available in print by clicking here, or Kindle e-reader by clicking here.

J.M. would love to connect with readers:

 

Looking Down On Others

Here we have the bookworms, those with a thirst for knowledge, who dream big and fail most often. These people take pride in what they know, trust logic, and deductive reasoning. As such, they often see others as inferior and treat them accordingly.
While they examine the future with optimism, they’ll often look around and see others as too lazy, unimaginative, or selfish to reach challenging goals and, therefore, express pessimism in society’s progress. And they are perfectly fine living with this duality, incongruent as it may seem.

This personality type eschews rules, believing them to be bendable guidelines and dislike authority figures who stand by them unmoved by compassion or logic. Because they question everything, and continuously review progress, they think others also do this and are often confused when the evidence shows otherwise.

Characters in our stories with this personality type are challenging to work with. Because they live in duality, and very few of us share this ability, we must reach outside ourselves, step beyond our own ways of looking at the world, to depict these people correctly. But the challenge is worthwhile if we succeed. Tragically, however, we often fail as story-crafters to consistently and accurately portray the introverted, imaginative, thinking judgers of the world.

On A Constant Quest

Our next personality type, like all Analyst personality types, enjoy the mental exercise in questioning everything, especially the prevailing mode of thought. In this, they often step on others’ toes. They openly challenge the boss’ ideas in meetings or pick apart everything a significant other says.

While they have little tolerance for being coddled, they need to remember in the end, they will always depend on other people or risk losing everything. When engaging in a fun exploration of new and exciting ways of perceiving the world, they lose the necessary support for their pet projects.

This is a fun personality to include in your characters, whether they are the protagonist, antagonist, or merely supporting one or the other. They can be stumbling blocks, introducing internal strife, or external conflict. But don’t forget, without support from others, they should always fail. But that’s okay because, in the end, our characters must be challenged. No story worth writing is free from our favorite characters failing. It is the rise above failure that provides the character arc. Who doesn’t like a character-driven story?