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Welcome! Books, movies, music, original stories, interviews, writing, libraries, literacy, humor –all with the YA reader in mind, are just a few of the topics you’ll find here. New to the blog? Say hi! Like it? Follow away! Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

My blog is splitting up...but don't cry, it's a good thing.

It's true! 

My blog is splitting up.

Why?  One word; content.

This is my author blog which, in my mind is content that my readers will enjoy.  Lately I've been writing technical content that is more geared toward writers and rather than crap up this blog with technical stuff, I'm going to move it to another blog.

This blog, actuallyhttp://writingfundingpublishing.blogspot.com/

If you enjoy my witty, creative content typical of this blog, stick around -it isn't going anywhere (and tell your friends!).  If you prefer the technical posts, stop by and visit (and follow) Writing. Funding. Publishing.   If you enjoy both, do not lament, I will post a blurb and redirecting link on this blog pointing to the other because if you are like me, following too many blogs makes my head want to explode. 

So, in review, this blog ain't going away AND I'll have a new blog for technical stuff for writers: 
Writing. Funding. Publishing.  

I hope to see y'all wherever I see y'all.

And on a serious note, thank you for following.  Truly. I hope I provide some source of enjoyment or education for everyone.

An image from my new blog: Writing. Funding. Publishing.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Star Wars episode 7 teaser trailer released!

The Millennium Falcon flying low over sand dunes while engaging two tie-fighhters

Well, after hours of anticipation, the Star Wars episode seven, The Force Awakens teaser trailer has released. Watch it below...

So, after digesting the first taste of JJ Abrams' first dishing of the re-birthed series...

A headshot of Benedict CumberbatchIt was very JJ Abrams-esque with the voiceover that sounded quite a bit like Benedict Cumberbatch (Kahn in Star Trek Into Darkness), the lighting and atmospheric changes as well as how the camera follows the Millennium Falcon all harkening back to Star Trek filmography, which is a good thing if you've seen the films (awesome!).

The first character we see is John Boyega popping his head up into the shot wearing what looks like a storm trooper uniform with a very confused/concerned expression.

John Boyega's character wearing a stormtrooper uniform looking confused and afraid in the desert

Then we (unfortunately) cut to what looks like a droid designed by David Beckham rolling through what appears to be Tatooine.  I say unfortunately because the silliness of it reminds me of episodes 1-3, which I was hoping Abrams would steer away from.  Hopefully this shot is followed by John Boyega punting the thing to Alderan. 

A rolling droid that appears to be part soccer ball part R2D2 head rolls through the sand

Next is a super-cool scene of a group of stormtroopers on a ship preparing to disembark. Lights flashing, camera shaking, dark -very promising.

A group of stormtroopers prepares to disembark.

The next actor we see is (I think) Gwendoline Christie zipping away on a speeder of some kind (also on Tatooine. 

Gwendoline Christie's character riding a hovering craft on Tatooine

It is clear in this sub one second scene that her acting abilities surpass any exhibited during episodes 1-3 so again, promising.

Next a fleet of X-wing fighters zip into frame over a lake.  A very cool shot -we haven't seen them in action in a non-space/futuristic environment before (I don't think).

A group of X-wing fighters fly over a misty lake with snow covered mountains in the background

Then comes the coolest part of the teaser for me.  A person in black walks through a dark snowy forest and ignites a bad-ass looking lightsaber.  

The Mysterious dark side character ignites stage one of his lightsaber

The lightsaber ignites in two phases. First (above) is the regular 'blade' extension then (below) out pop two short flame looking things.  The entire lightsaber glows more like fire or lava with a touch of lightning...very bad-ass.

The Mysterious dark side character ignites stage two of his lightsaber

The millennium Falcon flying against a blue sky
The last scene we hear John William's unmistakable introduction followed by a sequence where the Millennium Falcon does a cool loop through the air and along the ground before engaging with Tie-Fighters.  The camera work is marquee Abrams. 

The millennium Falcon flying along the desert floor while engaged with Tie-fighters

and the title...

So, in my opinion, it looks promising, which means it looks like it won't be the train wreck that was episodes 1-3. Just sayin'.

P.S. all images are courtesy of StarWars.com -Disney -IMDB

Saturday, November 22, 2014

One space or two? No more double spaces after the end of a sentence -it's killing me!

A teenager would call me old. Someone in their mid-forties would call me young. Some days I feel older than others.

I learned ‘typewriting’ in high school…on typewriters (much like the one above).  It was beat into my head that when you end a sentence, you hit the space bar…twice. Two spaces.

Since then I’ve heard whisperings and rumors of the double space falling out of favor but, like an ostrich, I have buried my head in the sand and kept working the double space.

My editors never said boo about my manuscripts having double space (in my defense) so I let the issue go. They were probably worried if they brought it to my attention it would hurt my feelings. (ha)

…until one day in the embarrassingly not too distant past, I actually looked it up.  The Chicago Manual of Style is a reputable source in my opinion and this is what they had to say on the matter.  This is a direct quote from their website but I’m going to highlight some phrases for those who don’t like reading anything longer than three sentences without an indent (like myself).

The view at CMOS is that there is no reason for two spaces after a period in published work. Some people, however—my colleagues included—prefer it, relegating this preference to their personal correspondence and notes. I’ve noticed in old American books printed in the few decades before and after the turn of the last century (ca. 1870–1930 at least) that there seemed to be a trend in publishing to use extra space (sometimes quite a bit of it) after periods. And many people were taught to use that extra space in typing class (I was). But introducing two spaces after the period causes problems: (1) it is inefficient, requiring an extra keystroke for every sentence; (2) even if a program is set to automatically put an extra space after a period, such automation is never foolproof; (3) there is no proof that an extra space actually improves readability—as your comment suggests, it’s probably just a matter of familiarity (Who knows? perhaps it’s actually more efficient to read with less regard for sentences as individual units of thought—many centuries ago, for example in ancient Greece, there were no spaces even between words, and no punctuation); (4) two spaces are harder to control for than one in electronic documents (I find that the earmark of a document that imposes a two-space rule is a smattering of instances of both three spaces and one space after a period, and two spaces in the middle of sentences); and (5) two spaces can cause problems with line breaks in certain programs.
So, in our efficient, modern world, I think there is no room for two spaces after a period. In the opinion of this particular copyeditor, this is a good thing.

There you have it...

One. Space. After. A. Period.

Boy, training myself not to do the double tap is quite a challenge (thank goodness for find and replace -yes it works for spacing).

Oh and if you look hard enough, you can probably find a double tap after a period somewhere in here...old dog, new tricks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Star Wars episode 7 trailer coming soon, will JJ Abrams meet expectations?

As a Star Wars junkie, I'm sure you know that the title of episode seven was announced earlier this month. The title left me feeling cautiously optimistic.  

Just to back up a few steps -after the last three films (episodes/debacles 1-3), I was left disheartened with the franchise (see my rants HERE ).  When Lucasfilm sold to Disney, I was excited.  No more George Lucas (sorry, bro, everyone's time comes eventually), no more crappy casting and vomit-inducing love scene dialogue. I was even more excited when I found out that JJ Abrams was slated to direct.  
He did an amazing job resurrecting  the Star Trek franchise with Star Trek and Into Darkness, directed Super 8 (awesome movie) and Lost (best TV show EVER). Then they released information about the casting…including casting some of the originals, which horrified me (see THIS blog post for more on that). 

Then, primary casting was announced  and I was slightly relieved.   Good potential -especially with Abrams at the helm. 

Okay now we are current.  

The name releases.  Star Wars, The Force Awakens. This could be good, right?

My first thoughts are negative (unfortunately -damn you, George Lucas for making me so pessimistic!) 

Can the force sleep? 
Are all those little Midi-chlorians taking a cozy little nap?  
Who/how are they going to be woken from their comfy beds?

At the end of episode VI (Return of the Jedi) Luke is the reigning bad-ass when it comes to the force (possibly the only one) and his sister, Leia has ‘the force’ in a very fledgling state. The end. 

So 30 years later what has happened to the dynamic duo (Luke & Leia) to cause the force to fall into obscurity?

Here is where the positive thinking comes in.  Something bad had to happen, right? Something dark and very JJ Abrams-esque. Perhaps the collapse of the Rebellion, the banishment of Luke and Leia, the destruction of Endor, Naboo and every other annoying character, species and storyline Lucas created?  

See 'ya later, Jar Jar. 

End of Endor.

Things are looking up for sure.

According to THIS ARTICLE  from IGN, Disney may debut a trailer within the next 4-5 weeks.  Sweet! (fingers crossed)

So, with any luck, the galaxy is in ruin, the original cast is banished and occupies about twelve seconds of screen time and an awesome re-booted franchise is birthed.

Star Wars: Episode VII, The Force Awakens, is scheduled to release December 18th, 2015

There is a GREAT ARTICLE with several fan-made Star Wars VII posters worth checking out.   Two of the coolest (and two of the funniest) are below. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Brad Wiggins vs Chris Frome... My Time vs The Climb

For those of you who don't know, I'm a huge cycling fan.  Now you know.

I read The Climb by Chris Froome right after reading My Time by Brad Wiggins and am going to do a quick comparison between the two books.

From a reader's perspective, Froome's autobiography, The Climb, was much easier to read, more linear, less confusing, lighter and frankly, the writing was superior. 

click for image credit
Victorious Wiggins
Brad Wiggins the man (sorry, the knight), from outside the fish bowl, is an enigma and comes across as an enigma via his writing.  He is consistently inconsistent, at times aloof and seems incredibly (and sadly) insecure with himself.

 This comes out in his writing -how he describes his interactions with others, how his thoughts are all over the place.  I would have thought a good editor would have reigned in his tangents but perhaps it was an attempt to...allow readers a glimpse inside the mind of Sir. Wiggo.  Brad's story was post-olympics and onward and it lacked the foundation, the back story that was so prevalent in Froome's The Climb.

click for image credit

Last week Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Time Trial World Championships making him the only cyclist to gold medal in the Olympics, win the Tour de France and win the World Championships.

This may never be done again in the history of the sport.  When Brad is on, he is phenomenal -unstoppable in the time trial.  I believe Froome could take him in the mountains...but that's neither here nor there. 

Back to the books...
The window into Froome's past that comprises the first quarter (or more) of his book is very well written and entertaining.  It gave me insight into the man I see in the media and on the television during the race season.

Chris Froome
Froome wins mountaintop finish
The endearing account of his early life in Kenya followed by his early cycling career and taking us through his 2013 Tour de France victory is one of the best athlete autobiographies I've had the pleasure of reading.  My perception of Chris is someone I'd love to meet -a nice guy (although fiercely competitive).

Brad Wiggins has moments where he, too, can be that guy you'd like to meet in a local pub and share a pint in his autobiography...but it is spotted with moments that made me wonder if that was the real Brad...or is Brad the other guy -the guy with the walls all around him, the guy who can't communicate with his own team.  He leaves you confused because I think he is confused.  I truly hope Wiggo is able to find peace in his life.
Casual Brad

So, in summary: The Climb: excellent read, highly recommend. My Time is more sterile, harder to read but a highly interesting glimpse into the mind of a cycling legend.  While Froome speaks more of his interactions with Wiggins, the stories intertwine so much that if you're going to read one, you certainly should read the other.  Start with My Time (otherwise your perception of Brad may be poisoned before you give him a chance). 

2015 should be a great year for cycling and the paths of Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins will no doubt be captivating.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Starbucks vs Dunkin Donuts

I know this is totally random but I was pondering while driving past yet another Dunkin' Donuts being constructed and I realized what the difference between these two coffee giants truly is. 

They both have

Good coffee
Good baked stuff
Good non-coffee beverage selections

But there is something Starbucks has that Dunkin' does not and, in my opinion, never will. 

Has anyone ever thought, hey, I'm going to Dunkin to sit, relax, get some work done, meet some friends?  Probably not. But why?

1. Layout. Take a look at the floor layouts the next time you visit either. Every DD I've ever visited were perfectly rectangular. A counter on one side, tables  on the other. Set up fore one thing. Move customers through the ordering process as quickly as possible. Are there windows by the tables? Probably not. Now look at a Starbucks. They are usually more square with tables around the perimeter and in the center. Sure, they have flow in mind but they also have atmosphere in mind. The tables are most likely beside large windows. They probably have a community board on the wall somewhere. And there is most likely artwork hanging on the wall that doesn't have anything to do with marketing their own products.

2. Customer service. The majority of Starbucks employees are on their 'A' game every time you walk in the door. If you go there enough they probably know you by your first name. Can the same be said for DD? I don't think so. At least, not in my personal experience. I imagine the training to be a Starbucks barista is rather focused. Cookie cutter? Yes. But consistent. I would guess that DD training is more store specific and less formal. 

I am speculating however I believe that each Dunkin' Donuts is individually owned and operated which could explain the difference from store to store when it comes to customer service. Perhaps training unification across all stores would be helpful.

Anyway, that's all for my random coffeehouse post that I'm writing on my phone using the Blogger app for the first time.

What do you think? Did I get it right or am I wrong?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

June short story contest-Zombie me!

As part of the lead-up to the October launch of Evasion, book 2 of The Never Chronicles, I will be hosting a writing contest each month.  

Contest category:  Fiction
Type:  Short Story
Deadline:   June 30, 2014
Entry fee: $0.00 (FREE!)

Word count Maximum: 500

​First place: Two signed copies of Exiled and a digital copy of Tristis Manor 
Second place: One signed copy of Exiled and a digital copy of Tristis Manor
Third place: a digital copy of Tristis Manor

Prompt: Write a story that centers around a zombie, zombies or the zombie apocalypse.  That's it. Seriously.

​PLEASE read the contest rules HERE I STRONGLY RECOMMEND reading the scoring rubric (found in the contest rules). It will tell you exactly how each submission will be scored.

Tweet: I'm entering the zombie short story contest! @JRWagner2 #TheNeverChronicles #writingcontest

~In the book world, word of mouth is king~

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Evasion, book two of The Never Chronicles release date change

 young adult, fantasy, fiction, the never chronicles, j.r. wagner, fantasy novel, book, bestseller

Release Update: 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 9:58:29 AM

Dear readers,

Due to circumstances beyond my control, the release date of Evasion has been pushed back to Spring of 2015

Please click HERE to read more.

It's official!

Evasion, the second book in The Never Chronicles series will release on October 28th of this year.

There will be an exclusive launch party (with a cool, Halloween tie-in) location and details forthcoming.

Starting in June, I will be hosting one writing contest each month leading up to the launch in October.  The prizes should be quite cool.  Look for a blog post this week regarding the June contest details.

Blog post with details can be found HERE

There will also be giveaways each month beginning in June and running through the release date. 

TheNeverChronicles.com is currently undergoing a facelift.  The new look and functionality release will available soon.

The Evasion cover reveal will come early August.  I am very excited about this cover (designed by the super-talented Todd Berkhammer) and can't wait to hear what everyone thinks.  If you would like to be part of the cover reveal, send me an email.  JRW@theneverchronicles.com

Book one, Exiled as well as Tristis Manor will be running at special sale prices during the June-November promotional period.

Thank you for your continued support.  I truly appreciate it.

Tweet: Evasion, book 2 of The Never Chronicles is coming out October 28th. @JRWagner2 Can't wait! #TheNeverChronicles

~In the book world, word of mouth is king~

The Never Chronicles, YA, Young Adult, social issues, novel, book, abuse

A tale of perseverance, strength and redemption.

the never chronicles, j.r. wagner, ya fantasy novel, fiction, exiled

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Customizing the columns for Scrivener in the outliner view


Can you tell I'm obsessed with Scrivener yet?

First, THIS is the outliner view.

You get to it by clicking on the far right 'Group Mode'

What good is outliner view?


Think of it like the corkboard view on steroids.  Not only does it show each chapter synopsis, you can create labels, update status', look at your word counts per chapter as well as add custom columns.

Here is how to add custom columns:

Click on the Custom Meta-Data button at the bottom right of the inspector

This will bring up the Custom Meta-Data in the inspector.  To add or change fields, click on the settings button and select 'Edit Custom Meta-Data settings.

The Meta-Data Settings menu will pop up.

Here you can add custom columns in the outliner by clicking the +, giving it a new title and selecting if you want to wrap the text or color the text.  

When you are finished adding columns, click OK and viola, they will show up in the inspector.

You will need to fill in the information for it to show up in the outliner.

That's it.  You now have custom columns and can, at a glance, view important information about every chapter you've written.  Good stuff!

Do you have any custom columns you use consistently?  If so, please share!

Monday, May 19, 2014

The top five zombie movies/TV shows/ Video games

If you've been following my blog, you know I have a thing for Zombies...the apocalypse...the end of times, so the only surprise should be that I've waited this long to create my top five list.




Believe it or not, the characters are intriguing in Zombieland.  Each has his or her own set or neuroses that help get them through the post-apocalyptic world in which they're trying to survive. The humorous take on what is often a serious and scary genre makes this movie one worth watching.


Resident Evil -the video game

Add caption

I may be dating myself...but when the original Resident Evil game came out, it scared the crap out of me.  I love the premise of everything taking place inside a mansion -it keeps the action (and terror) close and intimate.  I remember the sound being awesome for this game.  You could hear everything -footsteps, spent bullet casings hitting the ground, the tearing of flesh.  I haven't played any of the more recent versions of RE but I have watched the movies, which just don't have the same impact as the game.  The only downside now would be, I'm sure, the graphics are most likely way behind the times. 


World War Z


World War Z was first a successful book by Max Brooks. The story goes, Brad Pitt fell in love with the story and single-handedly got the film produced.  I wasn't thrilled with the book to be honest.  The premise was great but I had a hard time identifying with the characters.  Some were interesting but others were rather bland.  What the writers, Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof (hey! he was a Lost writer) and J. Michael Straczynski did was narrow the focus to one man (Played by Pitt) giving the viewers a character they could identify with and follow throughout the story rather than jumping from perspective to perspective like the book. 



The Walking Dead


There is a reason why The Walking Dead is TV's top-rated show among adults 18-49 and averages 10.2 million viewers per episode.  IT ISN"T THE ZOMBIES!  It's the compelling characters.  Every great character has a great story.  The Walking Dead's large cast of characters is no exception.  Many people pass judgement far too quickly on a show thought to be nothing but gore and violence when, in reality, it is a character driven masterpiece.  I personally can't get enough of The Walking Dead and cannot wait until it starts up again.

For more stats on The Walking Dead ratings, check out THIS ARTICLE from The Hollywood Reporter.


28 days later


Forget characterization.  This is the straight-up scariest zombie flick of all time.  It takes place in London after the zombie apocalypse.  Main character wakes up in a hospital (very similar to Rick from The Walking Dead) and everything has gone to hell.  The Zombies are scary -the run...no, they sprint and to top it all off, there is an element of human evil as well.  Turn off the lights for this one and keep an extra pair of underwear handy...it's that scary.

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