Thursday, March 31, 2016

Copenhagen Cozenage, Book Review: Confessions of a Non-Romance Dude

I have two confessions to make.

First, I had to look up “cozenage”.  I had no idea what it meant.  It’s actually a cool little word that means, basically, a con (subterfuge, deception, trickery, usually with a little class and subtlety - think “used car salesman” but not quite “Congress”).

Second, romance novels aren’t my thing.  Not that I have a huge problem with the industry, but I usually find them sappy, silly and sloppy.  Or at least, I’m pretty sure I would if I read any of them… besides this one.

So now that I’m done confessing, let me get down to it.  I read a book called Copenhagen Cozenage and I’m writing a book review of it.  I usually don’t do that, but hey, this book was a lot of firsts for me (see confessions above) so I’m just gonna drop this on y’all.  As I do, let me be succinct:

I like this book.

Sure, romance novels may not be my thing, but if more of them were like this they might be.  The book was a freshman work by author Kristen Joy Wilks, a name you might not know but might do well to remember.  She writes well with a light, lively, genuine and very approachable style.  Her voice is a good one.  She uses plenty of description and color but is not overwhelming.  The prose flows nicely in the first person and stays true to character throughout.  A cornerstone of this character is a dry, insightful and self-deprecating wit.  Even in the most painful and darkest corners of her trials, Morgan (the protagonist) keeps things light and funny.  I felt safe in the hands of her personality throughout.  It was a nice place to be.  She made me laugh.

While the writing was solid, the story itself was what I found… well… romantic.  But not in a sappy, silly, sloppy way - more in a surprising, intriguing, face-punching, mystery-at-every-turn, “I didn’t know you could write that and call it a romance novel” kind of way.  Yeah, sure there was kissing and heart palpitations and daydreaming about that handsome guy, but there was also comedy, adventure, suspense, intrigue, breaking bones, big slobbery lovable dogs, faith, punching, tackling, disguises, people being locked in a cellar and threatened with torture and death, knockouts, secret backstories, bleeding, surprise revelations and smacking people over the head with stuff.  And more.  It was sort of a Romancing the Stone meets Beethoven meets True Lies.  Wrap your head around that one.

As a total gamer geek, I was also delighted to see a ton of references to all things nerd, such as RPG’s, sci-fi/fantasy flicks and the like.  And it wasn’t just passing references, either, like the kind some grasping author would look up on the Internet to fulfill an editor’s whim - this was full-on insider talk, the sort that you can’t fake and that smacks of authenticity as sure as a black t-shirt and a bag full of twenty different dice.  At the risk of hitting too close to home, the book smelled like a gaming convention.

On a personal note, I also loved the Christian tone of Copenhagen Cozenage.  Today’s fiction often panders to the baser instincts of our culture and character, which is a sad comment on our society and honestly just how far we’ve let ourselves stray from true storytelling.  This novel was a breath of fresh air.  While we all have a human side that is lured by base content, we also possess a more lofty sliver of soul that aspires to a something more pure - a sliver that delights in passionate love instead of passionate sex, self-sacrifice instead of selfish lust and calling out to God instead of calling out curses.  This book has that.  It made me feel good.

So to recap:  if you’re looking for a fun, funny, nerdy, suspenseful, mystery-romance-action novel with a modern quirky twist, a big lovable slobbery dog, slapstick humor and a punch of passionate Christian wholesomeness, this one’s for you.

And that’s not cozenage.

(Check it out on Amazon and other places around the Web.  Romance rules!  Did I say that?!)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Super City Kickstarter Now Live - Ends March 15!

Wanna be SUPER?!  Now's your chance!!

We've launched the Kickstarter of our way cool party game "Super City" and there's still time to jump in!  Similar to the popular Mafia/Werewolf style of game, this one is a ton of fun - quick to learn, easy to play and great for any group.  It's the game of supers, villains, sidekicks and secret agendas... and it needs YOUR help to get it off the ground!  Check out the Kickstarter and stay tuned for updates and news flashes.  Just don't dawdle - some rewards are limited, Early Bird Specials go fast and the whole thing ends March 15th!  

See you in Super City!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Write Makes Might Promo Video

It's here, it's here!  The OFFICIAL "Write Makes Might" Promo video!  HUGE thanks to Rob Culp over at Little Fish Productions.  He's a master storyteller and really a big bag of fun to work with.  Great guy.

Also big thanks to principal Tavis Peterson and the students and staff at Adams Elementary of Wapato and Camas Elementary of Wapato.  Your dedication to writing and letting me run around and throw stuff at you was, frankly, inspiring.

Please feel free to spread this around to any educators, para-educators or would-be educators you know.  I love to do the assemblies and they're really a big boost to writing programs (not to mention more fun than Cheese Zombie Day in the cafeteria).  Check out the School Visits Page for more details, if you want 'em.

Say it with me now... Write Makes Might!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Camas Elementary of Wapato - Write Makes Might!

The Word Warrior and his battle-ready crew.  They totally raided my props. :)
How was it?!  I'll tell you how it was...

It was LOUD!
It was CRAZY!

It was also well-behaved, eloquent, had great listening skills and showed off a ton of positive participation and writing ability.

It was Camas Elementary, the Write Makes Might assembly!

This school was fab fun.  Had some great words and vocabulary, lots of energy, especially for an end-of the day gig, and above all some top-notch staff.  Mr. Salazar rocked the AV and introductions and the Principal, Maria, totally floored me with what has now become one of my favorite presentation moments.  Earlier in the day her counterpart at Adams Elementary, Tavis, had asked "Is everything ready? Did I get it all set up like you asked?"  To which I replied "Yes, Tavis... all except for the bag of blue M&M's."  He played along nicely.  We shared a chuckle.  We parted.  Then Tavis went to his office and called Maria.  She dashed out, grabbed a bag of M&M's and had all the blue ones sorted out by the time I started my afternoon assembly at her school.  Just as I was starting, she popped up to the front and made the presentation.

It was totally awesome.

Thanks for the blue M&M's, Maria!  Now I R a rockstar!
Not only do I now feel like a bonafide rockstar, but I'm going to add "bag of blue M&M's" permanently to my list of required assembly materials.  Hey, what can I say?  Once you get a taste of fame, there's no going back.

And, as usual, below is the entire text for the amazing story the kids created.  This is for YOU, students of Camas Elementary!  Write on!!

Jeff the Janitor Cleans House
Once there was a little frog named Jeff who lived in a pond. He got sucked into the sewer and ended up in Camas Elementary school. The frog was wandering around and found a mug on Mr. Salazar's desk. The mug had something green in it. Jeff drank it. It tasted like seaweed. Then he mutated into a janitor.
      “That was gross!” Jeff croaked. “Let's go clean something!”
      One day an evil snake named Ssindy tried to take over the world. Ssindy using an evil smoke. When you smelled the smoke it turned you into a snake. Jeff decided to make an army of frogs using the same drink that turned him into a janitor. The snake army met the frog janitor army in battle. The snakes got slimed by the frogs' super bazookas.
      “Noooooooooo...” hissed Ssindy.
      Jeff the Janitor won the day!

Adams Elementary of Wapato - Write Makes Might!

The Word Warrior prepares students for combat by handing over a public restroom.
Another great show!  Huge thanks to the administrators, staff and students at Wapato's own Adams Elementary for hosting my Write Makes Might assembly, especially principal Tavis Peterson.  He was great, kids were great, participation was great, story was great... in short, it was great.  They also have more great stuff than just assemblies going on.  Adams Elementary is totally committed to the writing process and are doing some amazing things with showcasing student work, rubrics and other cool educational terms that I only understand in a very basic and non-educator-like way.  Basically, it's great.  One of the teachers typed the final story into Google Docs during the assembly and took her kids straight back to class to continue working on it as an assignment.  Now that's innovation.  Go Adams!  Write Makes Might!!

On a side note, my Sgt. Vocab mustache stayed on the whole time, I only ate about nine hairs from the Word Warrior wig (a big improvement) and videographer Rob Culp from Little Fish Productions (pictured below on the far right background desperately trying to follow the action with his camera) was able to nail some choice footage for the upcoming Write Makes Might promo video.  Go Rob!

Sgt. Vocab gathers ammo for the Word War.  Careful - that thing is loaded!

As usual, I also include here the full text of the story written by the students during the assembly's grand finale.  Way to go, guys!  This one's for you!

The Oink Heard 'Round the World

A long time ago in a farm far far way lived a pig. The farm was run by an evil farmer named Dr. Farmer. Dr. Farmer experimented on the pig and turned him into a super pig named Oink Oink. Oink Oink flew around helping people. He helped old ladies cross the street. He caught someone falling off a roof. Then one day Dr. Farmer got hungry. But Dr. Farmer's daughter loved Oink Oink. She warned him he was in trouble.
     “Watch out!” she cried. “My father is coming!”
     When Dr. Farmer came to make bacon, Oink Oink let loose his secret weapon... the Super Oink!!! Dr. Farmer was defeated and Oink Oink was saved. The Evil Dr. Farmer had met his match!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Stuff I've Learned From the Avengers Part 2: Iron Man - You're Only as Good as Your Armor

And THAT, folks, is some AWESOME armor.  They don't call it "Hulkbuster" for nuttin'...

Continuing this series in honor of The Avengers:  Age of Ultron, let's take a peek at the group's frontman and see what we can learn - billionaire philanthropist and occasional egomaniac Tony Stark.

To learn any lessons from Iron Man, that's exactly where you need to look - not at the tin suit, but at the man underneath.  This super is a great illustration for all of us: when it comes right down to it, we're all pretty soft and squishy.  Vulnerable.  Bendable.  Breakable.  Bleedable (I made that one up).  In short, "human".

Problem is, life comes at us as hard and fast as a dozen Ultrons on any given day, with pressure, stress, temptation, fear, anxiety, pimples, bad choices, bad gas, bad credit and bad weather.  We just don't know what's gonna hit us next.  The GOOD news is... well.. the Good News.

We are not alone.  We got armor.

In Ephesians 6:10-12, God tells us what to do to stand up to life and all the threats and dangers it can dish out.  Put on our armor.  Slap on the Truth, buckle on Righteousness and clamp down Faith all around us.  Even more, we're encouraged to go on the warpath.  With a sword.  Dang.  I want me some of that.  That's something even Tony Stark doesn't have.  Iron Man with a big flippin' sword?!  Now you're talking.

The plain fact is that we're only as good as our armor.  And if we put on that armor, then nothing can stop us.  Not even life.

So put it on.  That's not a suggestion.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Stuff I've Learned From the Avengers Part 1: The Hulk - You've Got the POWER!

Say it with me... "Avengers... assemble!"  C'mon, you know you wanna...
In honor of the Avengers: Age of Ultron, I've assembled (ugh, sorry) some of the many critical lessons I've learned from these superheroic fellas (and one lady).  Let's start with Big Green.
The lesson from the Hulk is POWER.  Pure, raw, earth-shattering, unstoppable and downright incredible.  Know what?  You've got the same power.  YOU are Bruce Banner.  Just like him, that power is not your own.  It comes from another source.  For Bruce, it's the little green Gamma dudes swimming around in his blood.  For you, it's something more.  Something bigger.  It's God.  In 2 Timothy 1:7 the Almighty drops a big one on us - we have POWER.  Massive power.
Feel weak?  You are.  Want power?  You got it.  Just tap into what God has to offer.  Dig into His talk, figure out what He wants and how He works.  Wrap your life around it.  Give into it, just like Dr. Dave.  Unleash the beast.  You'll see some amazing, incredible, powerful, potent things that will blow you away.  Guaranteed.
Does all that power scare you?  It shouldn't.  It's a rush.  That's the way life was meant to be.
But when you unleash it, just make sure you hold onto your purple pants.  It's gonna be quite a ride.