I didn't start writing much of anything beyond a school paper until after my 16th birthday.  Like many boys in middle school, I was more interested in arts, gym class and girls.

But my 16th birthday changed my life.  And I owe it all to an anonymous guy named: Brian Bowering.   No one here would know of him.  He was just another kid in the school yard at school who, for my birthday, bought me a book.  Specifically, the first book of The Dragonlance: War of the Lance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.   I'd never read a novel, unless it was something like "The Great Gatsby" which flew 7-47 over my head as i read it. And let's face it, I didn't retain one darned detail of that book other than the fact that there was a goofy old man name Gatsby in it.

Being a student of Dungeons of Dragons, the book was an appropriate gift from Brian and having a deep sense of honor, i felt I needed to do right by Brian by actually reading the book.  I figured, I'd give it a try and if it sucked, I'd just put it down and never mention it again.

As it turned out, I fell in love with the book, and became an AVID fan of the series and i continued to buy and read well over 20 Dragonlance based books, and expanded by tastes to Horror (Dean R. Koontz, Stephen King), scifi (anything star trek and star wars, and books by Jack McDevitt).

The bug to write bit me.  I started writing fantansy stories based on D&D modules that I'd written for weekends of Campaign play with my brothers.   Astelbania was born.  What's that?  Astelbania was a world that I created so that i had a world to write stories about.  Whether that would be for D&D modules or for the whacky fantasy stories that i would write.

At 17 years old, I finished my first novel (Which was, absolutely, the most fantastic, amazing thing i'd ever written).  Now, 22 years later, the story is brutal, pocked full of holes, with little to no character depth at all; but when i was 17, it was HAWESOME!!!

I spent the last 22 years trying to master this craft, playing Play by Post online rpg's (even running my own), attempting to write horror, scifi and fantastic novels over the years, and never even got close to finishing any of those project.

Then I came upon Wil Wheaton's blog and he mentioned Ficlets in a couple of his blog entries and it intrigued me.  I read his ficlets, and was immediately intimidated.  The stories posted there were unbelievably sophisticated, and the comments there were poigniant, intelligent and loaded full of great advice and tips, that i didn't think i'd be able to comment appropriately, nor for one minute, be able to write something that anyone would be willing to read.  I just wasn't that good.

So I bookmarked the site and forgot about it for a time.
Then, Wil Wheaton mentioned Ficlets again, and again, I returned and read this entry, and again, I marvelled at the Comments by THX0047, and Elsha, and TBS, and Uselessness.  My curiousity got the best of me, and i clicked up their respective links and read their stories and was WOW'ed.

"I have some good stuff written down somewhere," i thought to myself at the time, "Maybe I'll just post an entry, and see where it goes!" 

So i did.

ElshaHawk was the first person to comment, and surprisingly to me, she like it.  So i wrote some more and she gave me some constructive criticism, and i wrote some more and she flat out told me I'd lost my way.  My first "Ficlet" wake-up call.  Seems my characters were spread thin.  I had too many and i was loosing the readers... but she commended my efforts and i thanked her for her advice and I dropped the series like a hot potato.

The bulk of my writing over the past 10 years was fantasy.  I never thought to write anything else.  Other styles were lost on me, even Scifi, especially considering that I am a HUGE Star Trek and Star Wars fan.  I'm a Browncoat, and thoroughly love anything STARGATE.  But it was because of my love of Scifi that i never thought to write within that Genre.

Enter Uselessness' series on Ficlets about a dashing escape from "The Alliance".  The series so intrigued me, that i took a chance and actually did my FIRST sequel.  I was inspired, after all by the ship to ship combat, and off-the-cuff dialogue, that i actually thought i could contribute.  And he actually liked it.  We went back and forth for a few days in the series, and I thoughroughly enjoyed it; so much so, that the universe that we had created those couple of weeks were the subject of my NaNoWriMo NOVEL which i've finally completed.  I owe a great deal of thanks to Uselessness for his Inspiration and positive feedback.  He allowed me the guts to create without boundries.

As my travels through Ficlets continued, I joined many challenges, where my stories were rated well, and i received more good praise than bad, I came upon a crowd of KIDS... and yes, I'm saying kids.  These young women and men who fearless put words into stories that were just unbelievably good; i was jealous.  I wish i'd had been that good at 14, and 15, and 17 ... i was blown away.  And the poise that these young people had when i finally chatted with them over IM was remarkably respectful and humble... these KIDS gave me hope that the world would be ok after I'm old and feeble.

G2LaPianistaIrlandesa was one such young individual who's writing was awesome to me for someone so young.  In my goodbye to ficlets I wrote:

"To BluSparrow, Band-Baby, and G2: for your youthful enthusiasm and INCREDIBLE talents. To see talent in ones so young, damnit, makes me jealous! You ladies KEEP WRITING … it’s amazing the stuff you girls pump out day in and day out!!!! I mean that!"

Ana Cristina, who has already been mentioned earlier on in this branch is an incredible talent.  Her stories are inspired and off-the-charts good.

Which takes me to ChakatreatmentFOOL.  I had a few opportunities to write with her, and found that she awoke the lighter side of my writing.  She taught me that it was ok to be a little whimsical in your creativity, even when the subject matter is dark and serious.  In fact, DARK and Funny was made better by her style.. and i've never forgotten that.  I have to thank her for loving my Crotchety Old man in the Arsonist Series, co-written by Elsha-Hawk.

And so .. there are my thoughts and thank you's ... have a GREAT 2009 people.  May you all write amazing tales of wonder and gholishness!

The End

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