Update: The Last 3 Months

Yeah, I haven’t been posting much lately. There’s a reason for that. The past few months have been very busy for me. First, there was the bar exam, and intense two day test that I spent months preparing for. Then I had to find a job to support me, my wife, and our daughter. Then I had to spend time either helping take care of my father-in-law, or spending time watching my daughter so my wife could. Then my computer broke (and every time I get it back, something else seems to be wrong with it. Hopefully the next time I get it back, it’ll be in working order). I was busy and stressed, and frankly I couldn’t get much writing done, and didn’t care to.

Then my father-in-law passed away. I was close to him, and loved him like my own father, so this hasn’t been the easiest time for me. I can honestly say that he was the best man I’ve ever known. It’s been barely two weeks since he passed, and it still feels raw. I’ve found myself writing more now, if only to express my emotions, to find some way to let them out. I keep on thinking back to the times I could have spent with him, but didn’t, often for my own selfish reasons. It’s hard not to dwell on such things.

So I’m not going to lie and say that I’ll be updating this blog every week. I honestly don’t know when the next time will be. Right now I’m just going to focus on my life, my family, and my writing. But I will try to post here more often. But for the time being, don’t expect it to be a regular thing.

Review! A Spark Ignites by Michael Lachman

Check out another review of A Spark Ignites!

This Kid Reviews Books

sparkA Spark Ignites

By Michael Lachman

264 pages – ages 12+

Published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on March 17, 2016

Synopsis- Matt Stone is an average high schooler. That is, until his brother unexpectedly dies in a car accident, his last words to Matt cryptically tell him to keep the legacy. His legacy, it turns out, is that of the superhero Spark. Matt feels compelled to take up the job, even if he doesn’t want to, out of honor for his brother. But what if Matt’s brother dying wasn’t an accident? What if there was foul play involved?

What I Thought- This was an intense book – it has a plausible way for there being superheroes (all are electronically powered via suits and gadgets), and Matt and his friends are pretty realistic teens. The story is a bit dark, with a lot of uncertainties on behalf of the characters, as Matt tries…

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Take Your Criticism and Love It!

Myths of the Mirror

Take your criticism

For five years, I had the great fortune to be a member of a dedicated Writer’s Critique Group. During that time, I line by line edited approximately 1,920,000 combined words for my four critique partners, and they each critiqued about 780,000 words for me. That’s a lot of words. 

And did I ever learn a lot about writing!

Of course, the positive feedback was nice, and it was delightful to know when things were going well. But the real joy, the most valuable feedback was the constructive criticism. I craved the ugly, gritty details. I wanted to be nitpicked and challenged. I longed to improve and grow as a writer, and to accomplish that, I needed to know everything I was doing wrong. Each correction, negative comment, and suggestion was a precious gift that someone cared enough (about me) to write down and share.

As writers, we are usually too close to our books to…

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Dealing with Death in Life and Fiction

Death is common in fiction, just as it is common in life. It is the highest of stakes, even though ever character, just like you and everyone you know, will end up dead eventually. Different people react to death, or even the possibility of death, in different ways. Fear is the most common emotion associated with it, but it isn’t one that everyone experiences.

Until my child was born, I never feared for my own death. I did, however, fear the deaths of others. There’s an elderly British man in his eighties who I was fairly close with about eight years ago. We met while I was spending a year abroad, and often had philosophical discussions. Over time, we’d fallen out of touch. Yet whenever I feel the desire to call him and find out what he’s up to, I hesitate. I’m scared I’ll find out that he’s not around anymore, and as long as I don’t call, as long as I don’t know his status, I can tell myself that he’s probably still alive.

Because death is a universal experience, it is bound to come up in your writing at some point. When it does, try to remember that not everyone has the same reaction, and not everyone faces death the same way.

I remember my grandmother, a holocaust survivor, telling me that after the murder of her family, she no longer wanted to live. She was jealous of people that didn’t wake up in the morning. When she finally did pass away, I think she viewed it as a relief. Death was something she welcomed. My father realized this, and yes, he mourned her loss, but at the same time he found a sense of peace, knowing that her suffering on this world was finally over.

There’s a book, A Brush With Death : An Artist in the Death Camps, by Morris Wyszogrod (or Moshe, as he was called by his friends). The book recounts the author’s experiences in the Holocaust, and actually bears a few similarities to Yossel, something I pointed out to author Joe Kubert when I had the opportunity to meet him, a year before his death. Of course, Moshe Wyszogrod isn’t around anymore either. Few survivors are. But what makes his book unique isn’t just that it is an account of death and horror, recorded as experienced by someone who faced it day in and day out for years, but rather because of a few paragraphs written here and there, throughout the book. The author mentions a friend of his, who he met in the Warsaw Ghetto, entered into the concentration camps with, and eventually was separated from as the war went on, only to be reunited in America with years later: Mayer Lachman. My grandfather didn’t talk much about his experience in the Holocaust (or talk much at all, for that matter), so a decent amount of what I know about his experiences come from that book. There were of course some things left out, such as his wife and daughter, who never made it. My uncle once asked him what he did when he found out his wife and daughter were killed. He shrugged and said, “I went back to work.” Because mourning would mean death for him as well. Instead her persevered, and lived long enough to see his great-great-grandchild. Not long ago he was watching some great-grandchildren run around in his son’s backyard. “They didn’t win,” he said with a smile.

Mayer Lachman passed away exactly one year ago, at the age of one hundred and five. A sick child who doctors didn’t think would live beyond his first year had lived through two world wars. The anniversary of a loved one’s passing is a time to reflect on life, and celebrate their legacy. I suppose that’s why I’m writing this.

Where Have I Gone?

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Hello, dear readers. You may have noticed that I have not posted much lately. That’s because I’ve been busy. Both my blog and book writing has fallen by the wayside, due to adjusting to taking care of my newborn daughter, finishing up law school, and a close member of my family getting hospitalized due to major health issues. Now, as I study for the bar exam, I am still writing, though at a snail’s pace. The second Spark book is over halfway done, so there’s that, and I’ve fleshed out the outline for the third. I hope to begin writing more in earnest soon enough. Please just bear with me.

A Spark Ignites – Book #Review

Check out this review of A Spark Ignites from fellow blogger Avi Greenberger!

Aviously

A Spark Ignites by Michael Lachman (of the fellow blog www.michaellachmanwrites.com, and previously of this guest post) is a superhero adventure and a the first step in a journey on Lachman’s writing career.

Matt Stone is your standard teenager, facing high school troubles and a typical family life, including an annoying brother.
But when Matt gets into a car accident and subsequently discovers the suit of “Spark”, New York’s superhero, will he take on the role and try to save the city? Or will the suit overwhelm him, leaving him to need the saving?

This book is a solid read and a 7.5 out of 10, and can be purchased HERE.

A Spark Ignites Cover

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Starving Review: A Spark Ignites (The Spark Superhero Series #1) by Michael Lachman

Check out J.B. Garner’s book review of A Spark Ignites!

J. B. Garner - Musings of a Starving Author

29508618A Spark Ignites (The Spark Superhero Series #1) by Michael Lachman (Amazon, Goodreads)

After some big meals down the gullet, we pull up a light novella of a meal with A Spark Ignites.  A recipe spun up in a new contemporary superhero setting, it offers up a quick bite of superhero delight to enjoy.  Considering my own preferences and inclinations, this should be a great meal … or will my taste buds be biased by my own preconceptions?

Before we discover the truth, let’s flip over our ID cards and read the Starving Review bylaws:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible

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Starving Interview: Michael Lachman, Author of A Spark Ignites

Hey everyone! Check out my interview on fellow author J.B. Garner’s blog!

J. B. Garner - Musings of a Starving Author

Good morning, my literary foodies!  This fine Friday, we start the day by sitting down in the kitchen with Michael Lachman, the chef behind today’s meal, A Spark Ignites.  Let’s see what is what!

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You Made a Mistake

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Obviously, before putting out a book, a writer will do everything within his or her power to make sure the product is as flawless as possible. That’s why its always a little embarrassing to be told that someone found an error in your book.

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However embarrassing it is, I find myself grateful to those who bother to let me know. Honestly, constructive criticism and being told how you can make your book better is far more useful than praise . As a writer, I want to put out the best book I can. But as a human, I’m prone to mistakes, and when it comes to my own writing, I can often be blind to it. So when something is pointed out to me that should be fixed, be it a typo, a factual error regarding the city layout, or a suggestion regarding possible stylistic improvements, I try to fix it as soon as I’m able. And what is amazing about digital and print on demand is that these errors can be fixed almost instantaneously.

Every writer wants to improve, but we can’t learn from our mistakes if we aren’t aware of them. Slight embarrassment is a small price to pay to put out a better book.

Book Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

516lvwmprbl-_sx303_bo1204203200_It’s no secret that Brandon Sanderson is a master of his craft, and The Stormlight Archive is his magnum opus. At first glance, the books are intimidating — with each one a 1000+ page brick. But don’t let that stop you. You’d be missing out on a fantasy series that rivals, and in many ways surpasses, A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones).

When I started to read the first book in the series, The Way of Kings, I was immediately turned off. The book begins with a prologue that in all honesty has no business being there. Half the words are made up, you have no idea what’s going on, and it doesn’t give you any information you don’t learn later on. I think including it was a huge misstep. Luckily, the book really picks up after that. The book focuses on several different characters, though it mostly spends time on three: Kaladin, a lowly former soldier, Dalinar, the king’s uncle, and Shallan, a girl from a lower, unimportant house. There’s politics, action, magic (with clearly defined rules),  deception, everything a fan of fantasy could want. Not everyone’s story is as interesting as you’d like, but there’s something there for everyone. (And Shallan’s story, which is arguably the most boring, really picks up toward the end of the book, and she’s given the most interesting story in the next one.)

What makes this book stand out compared to the other fantasy books out there is the world. Sanderson builds a world unlike anything I’ve ever read. This isn’t a world inspired by Tolkin (and that in and of itself is a rarity in the fantasy genre). The inhabitants, the societal norms, religions, money, animals, even plants and physics, all of it seems utterly alien and original. And yet (with the exception of the prologue) it is never unfolded too slow or too fast. You can’t help but become enamored with the world he created.

In short, The Way of Kings is not only an immensely entertaining book, but one of the most creative fantasy books I’ve ever read. If you like fantasy, check it out. Just be prepared to carve out a ridicules amount of time to finish each book, and then wait years for the next one. (Maybe the Song of Ice and Fire comparison is more accurate than I realized.)