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The Exile, a Writing Excerpt

Some of you have wanted to read a writing sample of so here it is. The following is an excerpt from “Reflections of Ruin”, my current writing project. This is an early chapter and my still be under revision and editing. Enjoy this sample.

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Elite Aetheric Wave Disruptor Rifle Mark I

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Well ladies and gentlemen I am pleased to announce that I have finished my work on the Elite Aetheric Wave Disruptor Rifle Mark – I, and will deliver it to the Placer County Fairgrounds tomorrow for participation in the 2017 Placer County Fair which runs from June 22 – 25.

With all the problems and roadblocks I ran into while doing this project, I’m surprised it turned out so awesome!

The rifle stock itself is a Remington 700 SPS Varmint that was graciously given to me for free from the nice people over at the Rocklin Armory when I told them about wanting to make a Steampunk Rifle.

The rifle electronics runs off of 4 “D-Cell” batteries in the main power box, this powers the green LEDs in the Aetheric Coil Tubes, and the vibration motor mounted along the barrel of the rifle.

For more info check out this page.

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Old Projects, Wood Magic Boxes

Some of my first gearsmith projects were custom made wooden Magic: The Gathering boxes. Check out the boxes by clicking here.

For nearly 15 years played a Collectable Card Game called Magic: The Gathering. The game was fun but could be an expensive hobby. I occasionally played at one of the local comic book stores, but more often than not I just played with my friends. With many of my friends moving away I didn’t play anymore.

One of the things I always thought was dumb was the fact that these people would carry their cards around in cheap cardboard boxes. As for myself, I decided to make a more sturdy box out of wood. It was basic box with a flip lid, in which I could put my favorite deck and sideboard. I recently gave one of these boxes to Fantasy Author Brandon Sanderson at a signing for A Memory of Light, the final book of Robert Jordan’s phenomenal The Wheel of Time series.

At the time I worked for a Sign Shop designing and making ADA signage using a computer aided Router/Engraver. I could design artwork on the computer, then have the computer engrave the images onto the wood. I made over a dozen of these custom designed boxes and have sold many of them on eBay.

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Disappointment as a Catalyst for Inventiveness

This weekend I started to get things together so that I could make the stand for my Elite Aetheric Wave Disruptor Rifle Mark I. But the vision I had in my head far exceeded the allowable budget. I wanted use PVC piping to build it, but the parts envisioned only are available in metal, and at four times the cost.

After an hour and a half I left my “big box” hardware store disheartened, with my mind searching for alternate construction methods. But that is par for the course I’m afraid. This project has plagued me with nothing but obstacle after obstacle.

First of all I have a limited tool set. The only powered tools I have used on this project were a drill, a cordless Dremel, and a small hand sander. The rest of the tools, saws, Exacto Knives, etc, are all manual. I don’t have a garage or other work room, most of my crafting has been outside on the driveway or in my living room.

As per every step with this project I have had to change my idea of what and how I was going to build something. I wanted a brass nameplate on the stand for instance, but instead I have made a image transfer onto a wood plate that I made myself.

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Inventiveness is often forced upon us by limitations (usually by money or time), and often then result is better than your original idea, if not more unique and interesting one. Try to remember that the next time you are confounded by your “Big Box” Hardware store.

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Realism, Research, and Writing

Welcome to the Arcane Gearsmith!

This blog is about the creation of things, both of physical objects and of the written word. One often influences the other.

For example in one of my stories a lone survivor of a religious order crafts a magically infused Quaterstaff. I, as the author, crafted my own physical version of that Quarterstaff. I spent weeks designing, sanding, woodburning, polishing, and sealing my own Quaterstaff all to understand my character better. One of the results is that I was able to get deeper into characters thoughts. I could relate to the character as he burned the symbols into the wood because I had done it myself. 

Familiarity can bring realism to your written work, and believability to your characters and stories. Creating the Quarterstaff was a form of research. 

I also research areas of interest related to my writing as well, as do many authors. I have listened to hundreds of hours of college level lectures on subjects such as The Industrial Revolution, Victorian England, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire, Daily Life in Ancient Civilizations, and many other topics, all of which help me to ground my writing in Realism.

So long for now. Keep tinkering and writing.

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Audible Musings

As many of you may know, I am a fairly heavy audio book listener. I can enjoy books as I stock shelves at “the world’s largest reseller”. My wife and I will often buy extra audio credits on top of my monthly alotment.

I am frequently asked what I am listening to. So for all you curious folks out there here is a list of novels I have listened to in the last few months: Legion, Mistborn, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages, The Alloy of Law, The Way of Kings, Elantris, The Emperor’s Soul, Warbreaker, and A Memory of Light, all of which where written by the awesome Fantasy Author Brandon Sanderson.

I have begun listening to the Shannara Series by Terry Brooks. I have almost finished The Sword of Shannara for the second time, and have The Elfstones of Shannara, The Wishsong of Shannara, and The First King of Shannara in my listening cue.

My wife, daughter, and I have been listening to Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians and Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones, both by Brandon Sanderson. My daughter follows along with the printed copy as we all laugh in the car while running around doing errands or shopping. Funny, funny stuff.

We have also been listening to The Story by Zondervan, a simplified telling of the Bible, that puts the events of the Bible in chronological order.

The Stormlight Archives Book One: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, is one of best fantasy novels I have ever read. It is engrossing in a way few books are. In fact I have listened to this book several times, and at over 45 hours, and well over 900 pages, it still captivates me even for the sixth or seventh time. Unlike many novels, I feel engaged with the characters, especially Kaladin. I can understand him and his plight, and at many times I feel the same way.

The Mistborn Series, also by Sanderson, was amazing. I am astonished at the way he can make up believable magic systems. Every series is unique. The use of different metals as magic sources was fascinating. The original trilogy is superb, even making me say at the end of the second book, “He just pulled an Empire Strikes Back” which made me hurry to the third book for the continuation of the story. With that having been said however, The Alloy of Law, is by far my favorite of the series. The mixture of Wild West and 19th century society was a fast and furious ride when blended with magic.

I do keep putting off listening to The Third Reich at War, the third book in the fascinating trilogy by Richard J. Evans, about the German Third Reich. There is just so much information to absorb, and the content is just beyond words. War is brutal and bloody, not glorious. Everyone should listen (or read) some, if not all of these books.

Thanks for checking in to my little corner of the World Wide Web. More coming soon!

– Michael

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Writing Excuses

One of the problems that aspiring writers have is that they have never taken a writing course. I sadly fall into that category. Many writers underestimate the usefulness of such education. Structure, plot, editing, rewriting, brainstorming, outlining, world-building, and character development, are just a few of the things a writer should understand.

Fantasy Author, and Creative Writing Teacher, Brandon Sanderson, has thankfully given us a solution to this lack of education: Writing Excuses. Writing Excuses is a podcast that focuses on various aspects of writing. With the help of Cartoonist Howard Taylor, Horror Novelist Dan Wells, and Novelist Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon discusses topics that are relevant to creative writers everywhere. Often funny, these 15 minute podcasts, touch upon broad ranging topics related to writing.

I stumbled upon a link to the podcast on Brandon Sanderson’s Website, www.brandonsanderson.com. I had been listening to The Wheel of Time novels by Robert Jordan. I had only heard of these novels in passing and had not taken the time to listen to them until recently. I work as an overnight stocker for the world’s largest retailer and can listen to audiobooks as I work. The Wheel of Time series offered me literally weeks of epic fantasy listening. It was through this series that I had discovered Brandon Sanderson.

Robert Jordan died in 2007 before completing The Wheel of Time, and the publisher hand selected Brandon to finish the series. The final volume of The Wheel of Time, called A Memory of Light, Will be released on January 8th, 2013. (I already have the audiobook preordered at audible.com).

Brandon has also written the Mistborn series and The Stormlight Archive, The Way of Kings, which is one of the best fantasy novels I have ever read.

Writing Excuses has a lot to offer writers. It has taught me to be more focused, more thoughtful, and more willing to make mistakes with my writing. Often I have found that I want a polished manuscript the first time, and keep rewriting a scene to make it perfect, at the expense of writing the rest of the story. Everyone will find strengths and weaknesses in their writing, but the writing process will help you perfect your craft. Give Writing Excuses a try, and who knows, maybe you’ll learn something you needed to hear. All right you are out of excuses, now go write…