Friday, May 29, 2009

Blog Awards

I've received a few awards in the past couple weeks, and although I appreciate them, I haven't gotten the chance to blog about them until now. If you gave me an award and I don't include it here, let me know and I'll tack it on.

I think The Writer's Award was the first one granted to me.

Thanks Hannah! This award has made the rounds, I think, so I don't believe there's anyone I could award that hasn't already received it. If not, consider yourself awarded.

And on to number two:

Thanks Joraiem! There are all kinds of people I know who deserve this award, but it has my name on it...

And finally, published author Katie Weiland awarded me as well.
"I get the pleasure of passing the award on to 15 of the loveliest blogs I follow. They are, in no particular order: ... #8 The Yodeling Dwarf—Home of up and coming fantasy author Jacob Parker’s thoughts and illustrations of the writing life."

I suppose it depends on the demographics of the readers of this blog, but I'm guessing that right now half of you approve and the other half are resolving never to let me live this down. 
In fact, Katie said to me in a later message that the above picture might not be something a guy would want on his blog, and suggested a photoshopped version with hunting rifles, skateboards, and footballs entitled "One Grungy Blog Award." And while I'm certainly glad that Katie thinks this is a lovely blog, I think perhaps I should take her joking advice literally, especially since I've already posted pictures of myself in a dress this week.

So, with many, many apologies to the talented creator of the beautiful graphic above, here it is:

Again, so very, very sorry.

Now that I've rendered this award gender neutral, I can award anyone I want! Recipients can simply choose one or the other (or both) to display. The problem is, I now stand here with an erected tent on one hand and the sack it belongs to in the other (don't believe the manufacturers! It does. not. fit!) See, there are more deserving blogs that I read than there is time in the day to nominate.) I'm going to put five down here that are not necessarily my favorites, but that I suspect haven't received this award before, and just happen to spring to mind (no particular order).

And, Katie, since it was your idea, you're welcome to put the Grungy Award on your blog too ;)

mikebaird - football
joeshlabotnik - skateboard
salsaboy - rifle

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I was on TV!

Yes, it's true. Since my graduation last night was actually kind of the first of its kind (see post below this one), a local news station covered it. I'm the guy speaking at the beginning, and the one they show when they're talking about avoiding social pressures (can't stop laughing about that).

Watch the video by clicking here: KREM2NEWSCLIP
Or by copying and pasting this:

Now that you've seen my 15 min- er 10 seconds- of fame, I'm interested to hear from you. Let's hear your story about when you were publicly recognized by a television station, newspaper, etc, or even if you were just the person doing silly faces in the background as the reporter talked about the coming storm.

Yes, I'm Man Enough to Wear a Dress

Am I the only one that finds it ironic that, because I’ve worn a dress, society sees me as nearing manhood? I’d be the first one to argue that these are ROBES, but really? Silver and purple? Who would I be fooling? All kidding aside, Tuesday was the official graduation ceremony. I got to be the lucky person who presented the class before the audience, and I got my diploma. I still have a barbecue celebration later this week, but I won’t bore you with a post about it here because I think it’s safe to assume that you readers have heard enough about my completion of my schoolwork and everything that comes with that.

The manuscript is printed and after I write up the cover letter it will be sent to Scott Appleton, most likely today. So after that, armed only with a completed manuscript, my faith, and the prayers and support of you, Yodeling Dwarf readers, I step out into the vast and treacherous darkness that is the world of agents. Perhaps I shouldn't have written this so late at night... On second thought, maybe I’ll embark on that journey in the morning… and get a flashlight… or a sword.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Note to Internet Explorer Users

Up until this point, if you use an Internet Explorer browser, when you clicked on the "My Book" button it took you to an empty page. But not anymore! The problem is fixed and now everybody can read the prologue and first chapter.

Also, I've changed the comment format to a pop-up window to see if it's easier to use and therefore encourages more comments, particularly from non blogger account users. Let me know which format you prefer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Right now I feel like I'm in the lull between two lives, that brief pause where the clutch is pressed and the stick is getting ready to shift gears. But I know it won't be quiet for long. It rarely is. So I've got to take advantage of this time that I have. Here are some brief items of note:

-JT Norlander at Proeliator of Lux Lucis has some polls he'd like answered and more importantly a serious prayer request. I'm praying, JT.

-I remember when I first started this blog the blogger tips thingamajig said that it's a good idea to point out the sidebar every once in awhile. On mine you'll find, from the top down, a link to an excerpt from my book (prologue and first chapter), a link to my profile (more accurately a giant puff of hot air ;), my e-mail address, followers, twitter updater, video bar, blogroll, and archive.

-My finals are over, meaning no more school. In just a few days I'll be wearing a dress for the very first time (honest!).

-Right now I'm working away at my manuscript, getting it ready for submission.

Psalm 118:1 "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever."

(Image by JohnMarchan)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Skeeter & Skunkbeard Comics

I talked in an earlier post about a comic strip my friend and I create for a small newspaper in Montana. It's called Skeeter & Skunkbeard and it's about two clueless teenage outdoorsmen and their escapades in the outdoors, cotillion class, and the daunting realm of girlfriends. I'll post a strip here from time to time (read: when I have no idea what else to post). Enjoy! (click for full size)

Copyright 2008 by T. Wilcox & J. Parker

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Discussion: The Reality of Morality

I found something interesting on the internet recently. It was a blog post on a blog entitled “Matt’s Notepad.” The title of the post was “Same Old, Same Old: Creationist Arguments.” As the title implies, the subject I’m about to talk about has probably been worn through countless times. But I want to discuss it anyway.

See, in the post Matt examined a creationist argument on another blog and argued against it on a point by point basis. Here’s the part that specifically got me thinking:

Another reason that we know that there is a God is the existence of morality.

This argument is so incredibly old and been shot down so many times, that it is simply tiresome to even deal with it. Morality is subjective, it changes over time and from culture to culture. There are certain fundamentals that run through nearly all cultures but those are perfectly explained by a little field of study called evolutionary ethics and morality. Basically it boils down to the fact that to survive certain species (including humans) needed each other to survive. To maintain group cohesion, they quickly had to invent/learn certain social norms (like not killing each other) since the alternative would be to have the group dissolve and get killed by nearby physically superior animals intent on eating their collective livers.

To me, this viewpoint, which is essentially that morality does not exist, represents a sad outlook on life. How depressing would it be to see love as nothing more than a means for reproduction, happiness, joy, and excitement as nothing more than an exploitation of some chemicals designed to keep us alive. Friendship would be seen as a bond created for a better chance at survival. Slavery, theft, torture, murder. That curling in our gut when we think about such things—that would just be our survival instincts kicking in. According to this perspective, there’s no difference between an innocent person and a guilty person who gets away with his or her crimes. If murder was made legal there would no longer be anything wrong with it. That misery that we feel when a cherished person dies, so intense that at first it feels like it can’t possibly be real, that would just be a reinforcement of our survival instincts, our body’s way of reminding us not to let our clan die off.

How can someone who has experienced these emotions, felt the struggle that it sometimes is to do the right thing, and witnessed the wondrousness and inexplicableness of life, strip it down to such a pointless existence? Because, really, what’s the motivation for living when the only goal is survival, an aspiration that, in the end, is both pointless and impossible. The argument could be made that all we can do is enjoy the time we have, but without the existence of love, joy, friendship etc. making the most of life is reduced to manipulating our bodies to release the most high-inducing chemicals that we can with the time we’re given. The way I see it, without the existence of God life is a barren wasteland. Wouldn’t that then mean that, since life is more than a barren wasteland, God does exist? I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. How do you define those things that some atheists would call survival instincts? And I’d love to hear from some atheist readers. What’s your outlook on life? How do you explain morality?

(Images by: sbhland)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Video: My Graduation Speech

Friday was the homeschool graduation ceremony for my area. I still have finals left and another graduation in which I'll get my real diploma. But I had a blast! I got to see some people I hadn't seen in a while, watch slideshows of good memories, and when I got home I was reminded of just how much I'm loved by opening a mind-boggling amount of cards, letters, and money (see photo). And yes, I gave a speech, which I tried to make as humorous as possible. I'm not very good at estimating that kind of thing, but I'd say the audience was about 2,000 in size... okay, maybe closer to 100.

Here it is:

Monday, May 11, 2009


Well, I've been tagged by Elrania Peredhil, Earwen, and Lyceria. I realize that there a lot of you out there who absolutely detest tags, and others who absolutely love them. So, in an effort to please a majority, I'll complete the tag but make it as humorous/interesting as possible. Here goes:

~16 Things you would never guess~

1. I just may be the finickiest eater known to man. It's not a matter of preferring certain foods over others, or simply disliking the taste of some foods. I honestly could not choke down a large variety of foods. For instance, I'm not exaggerating when I say I'd probably rather eat a wriggling worm than a salad. In general I prefer packaged, sterile foods to homemade as well. I know, weird, huh? The whole thing makes for some awkward social situations.

2. Jacob Parker is actually my mild-mannered alter-ego. If you ever see me running for a phone booth, chances are someone's in danger.

3. I've never finished even the first of the Lord of the Rings books. Okay, we can put the pitchforks and torches down everyone ... did I mention I loved the Hobbit?

4. I've never done any jail time, but my lawyers were sweating it with the underwear incident.

5. I was public schooled through 7th grade. From then on I've done my school at home, through an online virtual academy. I'm getting my diploma in a couple weeks.

6. I've wanted to be an author since 5th grade. That's also when I made my first attempt and failure at completing a novel.

7. My friend and I draw a weekly comic strip called "Skeeter & Skunkbeard." It's published in a small newspaper in Montana and we hope to get it out to more newspapers this year. I'll post some of the strips on this blog in the future.

8. At one time I was a respectable member of society... but that was before the underwear incident.

9. I randomly do impersonations throughout my day... bad ones.

10. When I was little, my family went on vacation, and my dad had me on his shoulders. I don't know where we were, but a giraffe leaned down and literally started eating my hair.

11. I love fishing so much that when I was younger my dad and I built a seven foot fiberglass boat.

12. Ever since the underwear incident, 28.6% more of the population of my town wears belts.

Sorry, that's all I've got. And now onto part 2 of the tag epic.

Is this your first tag? Yes

Have you ever moved? Yes

What is your favorite animal? Otter

Who are your favorite Lord of the Rings characters? Frodo and Sam. That relationship and journey is beautifally portrayed, in the movies anyway.

Do you get a lot of homework? Not anymore; I finished my last assignment a few days ago.

Do you think tagging is awesome? The jury's still out.

Do you like blogging? Yes, definitely.

Do people think you're strange? Ever since the underwear incident...

Do you like getting comments on your blog? Who doesn't?!

Do you like getting new followers on your blog? Again, who doesn't?!

Do you have an awesome blog? I'm pretty happy with it.

How many followers do you have? Check the sidebar.

Are you a good actress? Ok, for the last time people, just because I played Cinderella for ONE scene!!!

Do you like taking personality quizzes? I had a lot of fun with them in psychology class last year.

Do you like long or short posts? Length doesn't matter so much as content.

Are you going to tag someone else? Yes

Okay, as for part 3, the Narnia tag, I've got to be honest; the last time I read the Narnia books was probably 3rd grade... I only read them once, and though I recall enjoying them, I remember little about the actual content. But I do remember A Horse and His Boy was my favorite.

And now to pass on the torch. I'm going to tag my good friend JT Norlander at Proeliator of Lux Lucis. I skipped a lot of questions, JT, so you can go to the blogs of the people who tagged me to get the full version.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Discussion: What Makes You Read On?

Personally, when I read a book, not only do I gauge my enjoyment, I study it to determine what's causing this enjoyment or lack thereof. But I'm interested to know your thoughts on the matter. What, to you, makes a great book? Do you need strong and unique characters, a heart pounding pace, twists and turns, a high concept, subtle conflict among the characters? Or is it the smaller things that make a great book, such as smooth prose, or the right amount of description? The list could go on forever. Also, what makes a popular book? What makes one book, say Harry Potter, so much more popular than the other books in the same genre? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
(Image by Bunnyrel)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Novel Update

Well, you may have missed it because the comment was on an older post, [The Making of a Cover (Part 2)] but an author stopped by on Monday. Here's what he said:

Hi J.R. this is author Scott Appleton. I've seen your comments on my blog and this is my third visit to your site. I own the publishing company Flaming Pen Press and I am most intrigued by your work. Next year my company will grow to publish one other author. I am not promising acceptance, but I like your cover and the sample I read of your story. Flaming Pen Press is only accepting submissions by invitation. I would like to extend an invitation to you to contact me via email. My publishing house is small, but we hold high standards for the writing and art. Anyway, the invitation is there if you are interested.

Scott Appleton is the author of the fantasy book Swords of the Six, which is available to buy now. From the teaser and reviews it sounds like a good book which I plan on reading as soon as I recover from my upcoming car insurance payment. I encourage you to check out his website and find out more about his book at

I sent him an e-mail saying I hadn't yet explored my publishing options but would send him what he needed in order for him to get a better idea as to whether or not The Shepherd is something he might be willing to publish. He's going to let me know what to send here in the coming days.

Thanks, Scott!

Monday, May 4, 2009

House Pictures!

Over the last three years or so, my family has been building a house, the six of us. We did nearly everything ourselves, though we did hire out some help here and there. And just a couple weeks ago we started the process of moving in, even though it isn't quite completed. Some of the furniture and stuff isn't quite in place, but here it is:

Here's the kitchen...

...and the living room...
...and finally my bedroom.

And now for a game. Can you find... a ceiling fan, a brown seated stool, a caricature of Jacob, (gotta love talking about yourself in third person) a pair of basketball shoes, Wayne Thomas Batson's "The Final Storm," and a bear and her cub... (You'll probably have to click on the images to enlarge)

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Wandering Jet Pilot

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a jet fighter. The message just came in that your country is under attack, and you’re shattering the speed of sound several times over in your rush to get to the enemy. And then you see it—a huge, flying weapon of the likes no one has ever seen before, wreaking havoc on your country with an endless spray of bomb after bomb. But you orders were specific: take out those enemy jets flying around “The Mothership.” Still, you think you can see a flaw in the design, a chink in the beast's armor. Perhaps you’re the only one who knows about it. Perhaps it’s up to you to save everyone. Images flash through your head—the captain hanging a medal over your neck before endless crowds cheering their heads off. Would it be moral for you to abandon the enemy jets and take out the mothership? The answer, of course, is no. But I still caught myself, in a sense, yanking on the yoke and bursting toward that mothership.

If this jet fighter did exist, the obvious question to ask him/her would be “What’s your motivation?” If the motivator was fame and glory, he would have abandoned his mission and tore off for the mothership. If the motivator was the betterment of his country, he would have stuck to his orders.

What sparked me to write on this topic was a recent post at the rebelution blog. The post talked about doing the little things for God as well as the big things. It’s good to do big things for God, but it’s also vital to be faithful with the charges he’s already given us—seek righteousness, feed your spirit with God’s word, take up your cross daily… If we abandon these smaller jets in order to go after the mothership, (write a book) our motivation is no longer to glorify God, but ourselves. We need to seek the accomplishment of our Father, nothing more and nothing less, whether that eventually leads to big or small things by a worldly measure.

In the well known parable of the talents, (Matthew 25:14-28) the servant who is faithful with what he is given, is given more, but not before he proves himself to be trustworthy with what he’s trusted with. He focuses on being faithful with the small amount of responsibility he’s given, and therefore is rewarded with a larger amount of responsibility.

I confess, blog friends, that in the past few days I haven’t been faithful with what I’ve been given. I ditched my mission and headed for the mothership; I dropped my talents and headed for the gambling table, fooling myself that it was for God. But no more. Now it’s time to rededicate myself to serving God and God alone. If my book is published, then it’s because God decided to trust me with that responsibility, and He might; I certainly couldn’t have gotten this far without Him, and feel that He has called me in that direction. In the meantime I have some fighter jets to tend to.