Posts Tagged With: Mark Lawrence

My Weekend Playdate

My  Weekend Playdate

Every day we are weighed down with responsibilities, expectations, and duties.  All these thing constantly pull on us, dictating our time, burning our energy, and wearing us down.  It’s all part of life.  While we should take them seriously, perform or fulfill them to the best of our ability (not for someone else but for yourself), we should also learn to rest, to lay them aside for small periods of time.  If not, we will burn out or have a meltdown.  Even God rested from his work.

Now, for those who don’t really work hard all the time, this article isn’t for you.  You don’t deserve any time off, nor would you appreciate it if you had the opportunity. There comes a sense of pride in a job well done, no matter what it is you do – mother, writer, teacher, soldier, negotiator, lawyer, builder, factory worker, janitor.  It doesn’t matter what you do – but how you do it. I wish we could stop comparing one another by title or pay scale and education, and start gauging our values by passion.  The most successful people I know are not always the ones who make the most money, but who loves what they do.  Their lives are so much richer, fuller, and they are happier.  THAT’s what I want.

So, in my pursuit of happiness, which is actually one of my constitutional rights, I’ve learned to say ‘no’ and I’ve learned to have play dates.  Sometimes these dates are spent alone, but sometimes they involve others.  It really doesn’t matter on that point as long as it is separate from you do on a regular basis.  For me, it requires I unplug my computer and don’t even think about looking at my emails.  Yes, sure there are emergencies and problems that pop up – that too is life.  However, it takes a great discipline to leave all the responsibility behind for just one day… or two tops.  The hardest part to leave behind, which is also the most important and will null and void all the rest if it isn’t executed is… leave all the stress, fear, and worry behind too. The problem will still be there – I promise.  It’s best if you rest and reenergize so that you will have the strength to tackle that problem.

I can already hear the excuses popping into many of your minds right now, especially the phrase, ‘But you just don’t understand.’  I really do understand.

What is a play date?  That’s up to you.  For me this past weekend was a culmination of things… I went running, biking, took a few pictures, played my guitar (worked on a new song), played video games (which I haven’t done in forever – and it felt good but also caused me to create a few new expletives – it took me over an hour to figure out how to catch a flying piece of paper and kill a wolf – but I got it… and I rule!!!!), danced while I cleaned (yes, I’m one of those crazy people who actually enjoy cleaning and love the smell of a fresh, clean house), sang out really loud (my neighbors should probably get some earphones) read a bit on Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence, played around with some of my friends online being silly and obnoxious, talked with a friend (a very handsome and witty one at that) who made me laugh for hours, took a nap in the middle of the day, soaked in a long, hot bubble bath, watched a couple funny episodes of Carol Burnett,  and cooked some really amazing dishes.   But what I didn’t do… was work or worry about work.  I ignored my emails – though they often tugged at me.  Were there things I could have been working on?  Absolutely… there were LOTS of things that would have kept me glued to that computer all weekend.  Guess what.. those things are still there , but I’m much more relaxed, which leads to better production.  I didn’t worry about my family or my social life, ignored all requests from clubs or friends, or possible dates (I’ve since closed all my online dating profiles – it was just too stressful), screened my phone calls, and haven’t even checked the voice messages (*making note to check those when I’m done with this blog).

To put it simply – I cast off all those things that pressure me on a daily basis and I rested from my labors.  I had no obligations to fill, no one to please, and no expectations.  It was a really good weekend – play date.  Now it’s time to get back to work – and I look forward to the next playdate – maybe I’ll have an actual date for that one.  I hope it’s soon, but not too soon because I have like a million things to do and so little time to do them.  There are responsibilities and bills to pay.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray


Categories: Health & Fitness, Inspirational, Musing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

T.L.’s Terrific Blog Hop

Thanks to my fellow Scribophile avatar battle nemesis, George Wells, I’ve been hopped upon… and now must return the favor as well as hop on a few other heads.  I have to admit I’m finding this quite entertaining.

george Wells

Okay, the first part of this Hop is for me to answer three questions.  I’d rather make three wishes, but I guess I must answer questions instead.

 Question #1 – What am I working on?  Well, what am I NOT working on would have been a more prudent question and a much easier one to answer.  Apart from reading query letters, social networking, promotion, and marketing, I work hard placing my writers into the hands of publishers at my literary agency (North Star Literary Agency).  I also keep my editors busy at North Star Editing Services. With my own writing I stay busy crafting short stories, chapters on my novels Hunter & Chase and The Immortals, flash fiction, and poetry.  I also keep busy writing articles for the West Georgia Living Magazine and  Let’s not forget I try to post at least 3-5 times on my various blogs, including this one.  At this rate I even write in the few hours of sleep I might steal every now and again. Besides sleep is overrated –who needs it?

Question #2 – How does my work differ from others in its genre? Well, I don’t really mean to be a smart-ass, but what makes my work different is the fact that I wrote it.  My work encompasses my passions, my sense of humor, and my quirky personality – which is something no one else could ever duplicate.  They can be similar, but never the same. 

Question #3 – Why do I write what I do?  Simple – because it’s what I like.  I once tried to write what I thought other people would be interested in, but in the process of trying to shove my big imagination and personality into something demure, I ended up wasting my time and misusing my talent.  I’m best at writing when I’m writing myself.

Well, that wasn’t so bad.  If you’ve got any lick of common sense, you should be able to get a good idea of the type of personality I possess.  And now, as much as I hate to share the limelight, I must shift the focus from me and shine it toward a few other writers who deserve at least a glance of your attention.  I completely love and respect these writers and would very much appreciate it if you would hop on over and visit their pages.

 My first victim is Mark Lawrence, author of The Broken Empire series.  In my opinion he’s a modern-day philosopher, but the publishing industry insists on calling him a fiction novelist.  He does pretty well at writing a good book, but the wisdom, knowledge, and philosophy he peppers throughout the pages of his novels are out of this world.  This Brit’s blog can be found at: http://mark—  so, hop on over there and give him a look-sy.

 Mark Lawrence 

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say ‘this isn’t rocket science … oh wait, it actually is’.

 Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.

My next victim is writer Christian Fennell, author of the upcoming novel, Urram Hill. There are not many writers that move my soul the way this one does.  I’d place him right up there with Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, Jeff Suwak, Mark Lawrence and Patrick Rothfuss.  This is one of those few authors I’d read over and over and over again. Like his mentor, Cormac McCarthy, Fennell likes to break the rules and think outside the box.  So, if you like boxes, you might want to skip this rebel.  But, if you’re up for a little excitement, hop on over to  and check out what he’s up to.

 Christian Fennell 

Christian Fennell is currently working on two books: a collection of short stories – On My Way to Sunday, and a novel – Urram Hill. When not writing fiction, he works as a freelance technical writer and editor. He’s currently a contributing writer for The Prague Review.

My last victim is an up and becoming talent, R.M. James, author of Hear Me Scream, the first book in the Sorrows trilogy.  The first time I read this novel, I read it blind as I judged a writing contest, and had no idea about the author.  When I found out it was the ever so sweet and beautiful R.M. James, I couldn’t believe such a dark, detailed, post-apocalyptic and violent story could came from the same person. I was literally floored at the writing talent of this young woman.  I have to admit, I was also a little jealous.  I can’t wait for her debut novel to sweep the country and make the rest of you fall in love with her as I have.  So, don’t hesitate any longer, hop on over to her blog and see what survival tips she has left for you at .


Living in the wild countryside serves R.M. James as an open casket bloated with story ideas. She perceives the strange in the mundane and the majestic in the ordinary. She loves writing. She loves reading. The two arts often collide in a struggle for supremacy that neither one ever loses. Victory comes in the form a good read in a brand new novel.

Okay, folks …that should be all of it. I hope you’ve enjoyed that little bit of hopping. I’m sure you all needed the exercise. Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment – but make sure they’re pithy and make absolutely no sense. I’ve a low tolerance for sensible comments.

Till next time,

~T.L Gray

Categories: Author Appearance, Blog Hop, Blog Post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Five Best Fantasy Authors You Should Read and Why

by T.L. Gray

by T.L. Gray

As an author I’ve had the honor and privilege of not only getting my hands on a some of the best literature this world has to offer, but I’ve been very blessed to get to know many of the authors behind those great works of art.

Writers are a strange and peculiar brand of people.  They see the world with wide, yet narrowed eyes.  What I mean by that is that they can see beyond boundaries, borders and boxes to view bigger pictures and brighter scenes.  That broad vision comes with an acute precision, able to pinpoint what others can easily pass over or pretend doesn’t exist.  We see the beauty and the ugliness, the gift of hope and the curse of doubt.

There are a few people and books that haven’t simply touched my imagination, but reached deep into my soul and stirred my very being.  I’ve laughed and wept with their stories.  Some have fueled my desire to write, others intimidated me and pushed me to reevaluate everything.  Some have made me so jealous of their gift, I literally weep with appreciation just to be able to call them my friend.  Some have become my true friends, inspiring and pushing me in personal ways.

There are many, yet simple but complex, reasons for these five particular novels/authors.  I hope you will give them a chance and allow them to touch you as they’ve touched me. They’re in no particular order:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – I’ve never had a book move me through every emotion more than this one. I’ve cried, laughed, been excited, angry and outraged while reading this fabulous tale.  Rothfuss is one of the few authors who intimidates me as a writer.  I know when I meet a good, talented writer, but Rothfuss’ skill makes me feel inadequate.  Then he goes and reproduces that same feeling of awe in the sequel – The Wise Man’s Fear. I don’t particularly like feeling inadequate, and everything in me wants to fight against it, but I admire his skill, imagination and genius so much – I’m truly in awe. I’m truly a fan – not just a colleague.

That leads me right into The Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.  Actually, you should start with book one, The Prince of Thorns and read through The King of Thorns to finish with The Emperor of Thorns.  What impressed me most from this writer wasn’t necessarily the plot, but the wisdom, personal reflections, platitudes and proverbs he planted in these books.  I’d sincerely consider this a philosophical series more than an epic fantasy.  Some readers only read for adventure the plot offers, but to me, I find myself meditating on certain phrases, often forgetting the plot for a time as I grasp for deeper meanings and pearls of wisdom.  Lawrence blows me away as much as Kerouac or Bukowski do.

My third selection is from writer Jeff Suwak, author of the novella Beyond the Tempest Gate.  While Tempest Gate is a beautiful heroic tale that stretches the imagination and fuels the warrior spirit within me, it is an unpublished short story called “Rusted, Busted, Beautiful Things” that moves me most.  There was sadness, need, a crying out from a thirsty soul in that piece that has stayed with me for many, many nights.  I’ve cried often because this story came to me at a time when I felt my lowest, when I felt Rusted, Busted, but also Beautiful, deserving to not be forgotten and discarded as many of those pieces and buildings listed in that story.  I’m getting emotional thinking about it.  His words touch my soul.  There have been many other short stories I’ve read from this particular author that also moved me: one about a man on the edge of a crisis of doubt taking a walk in the middle of the night and finding a friendly cup of coffee, polite conversation, and the meaning to life, another about boy coming of age and stepping into his destiny under the mysterious music of a guitarista,   Exceptional talent.  He’s destined to be one of the greats.

My fourth selection is The Riyria Series by Michael J. Sullivan.  To know a man is to know his heart, and I absolutely fell in love with Sullivan’s characters Hadrian and Royce.  Their chemistry, their connection, their stark sense of humor pours off the page.  I love these two characters.  I’d want to know them in real life, and I’m sure they come from various parts of Sullivan’s own personality.  He’s one of the nicest and helpful people I’ve met in this business.  But, these two protagonists stole my heart and I find myself often thinking about them and wanting to know more, revisit their adventures, and read them all over again. Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, Heir of Novron,

My last selection was really hard to narrow, to define, to highlight, because there are so many great authors out there right now, so many whose works I’ve fell in love with, whose craft and artistry I admire.  But I have to stick with the ones that totally move me in a very deep, almost spiritual, way.  So, rising to the top amongst a sea of favorites is Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. Valen al Sorna snatched my attention, stole my heart, and didn’t let go until I turned the last page, and then left me wanting more. Even now I feel a bit overwhelmed.  You’ll have to check out my review on my blog to see how I really felt about the story.

Well, folks… those are my top five.  They may change in the coming years or months, but for 2013 those would be my favorite picks.  My advice would be to read these books and form your own opinion. Some of you will agree and some will not, but that’s not really my problem.

Thank you for reading.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: Blog Post, Book Review, Inspirational, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence Review



I can’t truly express how thankful I am this series ended on a high note, a sad note, but an extraordinary note nonetheless.


So much wisdom, so much pain; so much to learn, yet nothing to gain.


The wheel of life turns and our sins rise to meet us; our own thorny scars stretch across the planes to greet us.


Yet who’s to say what truth we’ll meet on that day?  Will it be a heaven or hell we’ll find as we make our own way?


Which is the dream and which is the echo?


Till next time,

~T.L. Gray


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Passion vs. Indifference

Passion vs Indifference

Photo by T.L. Gray


“Some men are too dull to feel what might happen. Others torture themselves with maybes and populate their dreams with horrors more terrible than their worst enemy could inflict upon them.”
― Mark LawrencePrince of Thorns

This is one of the reasons why I’m a Mark Lawrence fan.  There are baubles of wisdom such as this all through the Broken Empire series.  While I zip through his books on a first read to discover what happens plot-wise and character-wise, I then slow down, take my time and meditate on many of the passages, such as the one listed above, and really sit back in awe at his wisdom.

This phrase has been rolling around in my brain for a few days because I find myself once again at another crossroad, with another huge decision to make, and teeter back and forth concerning my choices.

I’m guilty of doing everything described above.  At times, not because I’m dull, but perhaps because I’m numb, I can’t even form the words in my mind or heart of what might happen, so I feel and think nothing, pushing all thoughts away.  Then other times, many times really, I lose sleep worried over all the possibilities of what could be successful, and terrified by all the fears of what could be disastrous.   Welcome to humanity.

However, if I had to choose between the two, I’d choose the latter, because I’d rather feel fear and uncertainty than nothing at all.  Indifference, in my opinion, is the worse state to exist.  Anger, hate, fear, hope, love and anticipation are all varying degrees of passion.  I’d rather be passionate, even if it’s passionately wrong, than be passion-less, indifferent, or dull.  I might as well be dead.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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