Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Musical History, Episode 1: Origin Story

I started playing the guitar when I was fifteen. I had a black and white Aria Pro II "The Cat" guitar (which I still have today) and a small Peavey combo amp. I was a complete metalhead - my favorite bands were Iron Maiden, Metallica, Anthrax, Exodus, Megadeth and Slayer.

Even though I had some experience playing stringed instruments (the ukulele), for some reason, when I started on guitar, I didn't initially grasp the idea commonly known as "chords." To me, everything was played with single notes. The first thing I taught myself to play was the intro riff to "Piranha" by Exodus, followed closely by the intro and main riffs to Metallica's "Master of Puppets." (I eventually learned that, yes, metal bands did, indeed, use chords in their songs.)

Not long afterwards, I even had my first band. Because it was just me on guitar and a friend on vocals (term used loosely), we didn't consider ourselves a proper band at the time (I learned later in life that there have been bands made up of less.) Anyway, we didn't have a name, but we did write and record two quasi-punk rock songs on a lousy cassette player. One of the songs was called "The Void," which was about watching TV, and the other one featured him cursing in Korean. I really wish I still had that tape.

After that, I was hooked. There was nothing I wanted more than to play guitar in a "real" rock (okay, metal) band. During my first days in college, I met up with another guitar player that I had known from high school, and we started to jam in our respective dorm rooms. He had a 60-watt Crate combo amp that I was insanely jealous of because it sounded so metal (I later bought it off of him and today it sits in my garage.)

We came up with some metal-sounding riffs and named ourselves "Maelstrom" (okay, I named us, he hated it). Of course, every metal band needs a drummer*, so we tracked down another high school classmate and rented out a room in a local rehearsal facility. I had heard that this place had - gasp - full Marshall stacks that you could use, so I was very excited.

Of course, they didn't have full Marshall stacks. I don't really remember now what they had, but I do remember being pretty disappointed. Anyway, we had a little jam session, and I could tell that the drummer - who was much more experienced - was getting a bit bored with us. It was kind of like that scene in Kick-A@@ 2 (title censored, this is a family-friendly blog) where Mindy is beating the stuffing out of Dave during his training. It was embarrassing, uncomfortable, awkward, and at the time, the best musical experience of my life.

Next: The Bathroom Stall Birth of the Legendary R.F.H.

* notice I said nothing about a bassist

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Two Update: Is Your Book Taking Forever Too?

Yes, it's been a few...months...since I've done a Book Two status update. And seriously, I've been working on it - Book Two, that is, not the status update - every day during that time. I've written lots of words, revised and updated outlines, and even worked on the master plan for the entire seven-book saga.

But unfortunately, I don't have much to report, other than to say that I'm almost done with yet another outline that I think may be "the one." No, I don't care if I'm jinxing myself anymore. Frankly, I'm actually really happy that I'm going through this process, because the longer it goes on, the stronger I feel the story is getting. If I had stopped and settled a few months ago, I would've missed out on some plot points that I feel are pretty cool.

With that said, I'll admit that the apparent lack of progress can get a little frustrating at times. If you're a writer in a similar boat, I've compiled a few factoids that should help you feel a little better (I know I did after finding these).

- It took Terry Brooks seven years to write The Sword of Shannara, and then another five years to complete its sequel, The Elfstones of Shannara (after multiple throw-aways and re-writes).

- As Jonathan Murphy alluded to in our recent live radio interview, books in the Song of Ice and Fire series (more commonly known as Game of Thrones) often take years to come out. The first book took five years, as did books Four and Five.

- As everyone probably knows, it took Jo Rowling five years to complete the first draft of Sorceror's Stone.

- Charles Bukowski didn't finish his first novel until he was 49 years old. His second novel didn't come out until four years after that.

- Rick Riordan finished the manuscript for The Lightning Thief in June 1994. It didn't come out until July 2005.

- At the age of 45, Tolkien began writing the story that would become The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The story would not be finished until 12 years later, and would not be published until 6 years after that.

Feel better? You're welcome.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cool Links For Friday

It's Friday, so take a break and read some of these awesome articles:

- Dan Aykroyd has Asperger's - and we wouldn't have had "Ghostbusters" without it.

 - Susan Boyle also has Asperger's. She has sold over 19 million albums worldwide.

- Here's a blog post on the Geek Club Books website about the just-released audiobook version of Secret of the Songshell.

- Jonathan Murphy talks about narrating the audiobook on his blog.

- Karen Krejcha of Autism Empowerment discusses her Autism and Scouting Leadership Training Program on the Autism Speaks website.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Audiobook is Here

I am pleased to announce the official release of Secret of the Songshell, the audiobook version!

Thanks again to Jonathan Murphy, Michael Meyer, and Jodi Murphy for helping make this moment a reality.

You can get your copy at Amazon, Audible, or iTunes. Just in time for holiday shopping! Also, right now Audible is even offering it for FREE with a free 30-day trial membership.

And if you haven't already, check out this recent interview that Jonathan and I did on Autism Empowerment Radio where we talked about the making of the audiobook and even did a live reading.

Party on, Garth!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Autism Empowerment Needs Your Support!

In case you missed my tweet yesterday, December 3rd was Giving Tuesday. What is that, you ask? Simply put, it's a day to celebrate and encourage support of non-profit organizations.

But even if you missed it, it's not too late! Autism Empowerment, the autism advocacy non-profit that I work with, needs your support. I encourage you to please visit their website at this link and consider making a donation. Make it a Giving Wednesday!