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Richard Novak

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    R. Ellis Novak
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  1. Thanks for the recommendation Joojie.I've considered that myself and I've concluded Cole will keep his firearms, but the descriptions of the killing will be left to the imagination for the most part. I think if I word it right I think it'll be fine. One of the reasons I want to keep the guns in there is to draw a clear distinction between Taryn and Cole. She tries to avoid problems, Cole goes right through them. I'll keep the option open though, in case I get stuck.
  2. Thanks for the welcome. I admire various authors in different genres including Wally Lamb (I Know This Much is True), Donna Tartt (The Secret History), Stephen King (every other book on the planet, though I disagree wildly with his politics), Peter David (comics including Hulk and Spider-Man, and several novels), Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), Milton Friedman (Free to Choose), Ray Bradbury (Ferenheit 451), and lots of others. Nothing has ever held my attention like The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged did, but stylistically I probable have more of King in me; in fact, the project I'm outlining in the Productivity Forum is meant purposely as a kind of homage to his Dark Tower series, though I hated, HATED how it ended. I've never read any of Robert Heinlein's work, but I do enjoy science fiction. Maybe I'll get around to it one day. I did try some of Terry Goodkind's books and never really got into them.
  3. DonAthos, you absolutely hit it head on. My ideas are close enough to Objectivism that I call them Objectivist. But if Rand never existed, or never wrote the works she produced, I'd still have most of these same beliefs, and would incorporate them into my writing in much the same way. But it wouldn't be exactly the same. As I said, she helped me hone my ideas, sharpen some thoughts and clarify some points. She was like the finisher of a concrete pour. The foundation was there, but now it's closer to presentable.
  4. Jonathan, My point is so simple but I don't think you're grasping it. I held my own beliefs before ever hearing of Ayn Rand. Actually, I'd heard of Atlas Shrugged but knew nothing about it. My writing represents my views, and my views are almost entirely in line with Ayn Rand's philosophy. When I say my writing pushes the views of Ayn Rand, I'm giving her credit for coming first, for being the first person to really define that thought process. What I don't think you understand is this: because I had my beliefs before knowing Ayn Rand's work, I could easily say "I want to write a bedtime story for children expressing my own ideas" and it literally woldn't change one word in the writing. Not one. But anyone who's read any of Rand's work would look at what I'm doing and say, "Wow, that sounds like Objectivism to me." Now that I've read her, and now that her work has helped me sharpen my own beliefs, I have no problem giving her credit as my inspiration, giving her philosophy the recognition it deserves. I've said before, I'm not trying to mimic her work, but I'd like to live up to it. And you and I are coming from different viewpoints on art. Exactly whose viewpoint am I supposed to express through my own art, if not the Objectivist viewpoint I hold as my own and share with Mrs. Rand? Or is nobody allowed to use art to express themselves since she's already done so?
  5. Valley of the Stars – Setting and Premise Note 1: The literal setting of the story, to include the year and actual location, will be mostly invisible in the written aspect of the story; thus, the children who hear the story read to them will be able to imagine their own interpretation of the setting. In the art, however, there will be clues for the parents that aren’t spelled out in the prose. I intend for these clues to constitute a second story known only by the parents about what really happened before the beginning of the book. I present both versions of the setting below. Be advised, this is a bedtime story for children as well as a bedtime story for adults in some ways. Note 2: As I’ve said, my writing is character-based. However, I’ve always considered the setting to be a character in many ways, and in this story the setting is incredibly important, so I’m going to list it first. And since I’m talking about the setting, I’ve decided I may as well get into the premise and basic outline at the same time. Traditional characters will be posted soon. Note 3: This story is designed to be told over the course of 3 nights. Part 1 (Children): Taryn Snow lives in a small town nestled in the foothills of tall snowy mountains. Taryn has a friend who lives in the woods outside of town, a huge black wolf with green eyes; this is Odin. Each night, Taryn and Odin go to a meadow above town and wait for the stars to come out. With the nightly appearance of the stars coincides the blooming of beautiful flowers in the wilderness around the town. The flowers are luminescent; from a distance, it appears the valley is full of stars. On this particular night, Taryn and Odin notice a large square of the night sky is devoid of stars. As a result, most of the flowers don’t bloom, and the ones that do appear to be ill, wilted. The flowers are used for medicine, so the lack of stars has a direct impact on people. Taryn, however, wants the flowers back simply because she loves the valley, the forest, and everything in it. To her, the flowers are life. In her mind, taking the flowers is akin to a kind of murder. She brings an example of the wilting flower home, but the town council doesn’t want to take any action. Taryn hears the legend of the King of Stars, a person who, long ago, tried to steal the stars from the sky to literally gain power over people. Taryn naively believes she can simply find the King of Stars and ask him to return the stars so her flowers can bloom and the valley can live. Taking only the bare essentials and a silver knife her grandfather used to own, she and Odin set out to find the King of Stars. Early on in their journey, Taryn and Odin meet a strange gunslinger dressed in black; his name is Cole. He too is on his way to see the King of Stars. Unable to persuade the stubborn Taryn to turn around and go home, he decides he should travel with her and Odin to provide protection. Taryn learns the King of Stars is much further away than she thought. Taryn sees the King of Stars in the forest, but it appears to be a projection of some sort instead of his physical self. The three later come across a church group in a very small village; these people provide some food and shelter for our protagonists but decline to join their quest. They take the stance of non-intervention. Taryn, Odin, and Cole are also confronted by some of the King’s followers as they near the sea, which they must cross to find the King. The followers, wearing white masks under purple cloaks, are a type of collectivist cult, and not only want to stop Taryn, but they also have a strange, keen interest in her grandfather’s knife. The three of them get away from the King’s followers (Cole actually kills some of them, implied but not shown) and eventually make it to the ocean where they board a large airship, the Oceana. Part 1 (Adults): Taryn Snow lives somewhere near Placerville, California. Although it’s between the years 2070 and 2100, there are no obvious signs of technology anywhere. People travel by horse or on foot, houses are heated and lit by lanterns and fire. As Taryn leaves the town, certain visual clues will suggest a major event of some sort knocked out all technology many, many years earlier, and the world never recovered. Instead, the world reverted to a simpler time. They’re accustomed to it by now; it’s not a dystopia. It’s comfortable. People are not starving or being hunted by corporations. There are three groups aside from Taryn, Odin, and Cole: the first group, the town council, represents those people who won’t face reality and think things will get better by simply ignoring the situation or hoping for a good outcome. This group is lead by the mayor who wears a ring that indicates (later in the story) he was actually doing the bidding of the King of Stars. In other words, he was planted there to keep people from action. The second group is the religious village where people simply pray things will get better, once again deciding not to take any direct action. The third group, the cult, is much like the Occupy movement; they too are doing the direct bidding of the King of Stars by actively trying to prevent anyone from taking action against the King of Stars. They also wear the ring. The King of Stars, of course, represents a power-hungry maniac willing to subject everyone in the world to his whims for the sake of more power. His character is a real person we’ve all seen; more on that later. And no, it's not Obama. The King of Stars is the destroyer of freedom and of life for the sake of his own. Finally, Taryn, Odin and Cole represent action, the willingness to act and the belief they’ll succeed. Taryn and Cole have different motivations and different methods (Taryn will talk while Cole will kill), but their end goal is the same: returning the stars.
  6. I don't usually do introductions so if this is too brief, ask away. I'm willing to answer anything. My name is Richard Ellis Novak. I was born and raised in Nevada. I'm a writer and an illustrator; my illustrations run the spectrum from traditional fine art such as watercolor and oil paintings, to photomanipulation aided by software. I am married to Vivian, a Filipina (see my icon). Together we have two little girls and we are due to have a little boy in February 2013. I live in Guam, and I'm set to move in late 2013 or early 2014. Politically I'm a conservative libertarian hybrid; I think every law should be based on Constitutional authority. I'm also a capitalist, obviously. I'm writing a children's book (and you can find posts regarding that in the Productivity Forum) and hope to sell it when I'm done. I grew up agnostic based mainly on the idea that there was so much disagreement between the various religious factions out there, but they one thing most of them had in common was a belief in some higher power. As I got older the belief in some all-knowing, all-powerful creator seemed less and less logical to me. The only creators I can say I've seen are men creating the world we live in. Not the dirt or the trees or the animals, but the steel, the structures, and the things we use animals for. We are the creators, I thought. It was several years ago I picked up Atlas Shrugged for the first time, and what I read was shocking. It shocked me that there was someone else out there who thought the way I did. More shocking still was how fine a point she had honed into her beliefs. Ayn Rand spoke to me from the grave through her writing. I did not feel alone in my beliefs anymore. I am, in addition to being an author and illustrator, an avid shooter (pistol, rifle, shotgun, and archery) and I love cooking. I love much classical music, thrash metal, and the occasional old school rap. That's me. It's good to be here.
  7. Jonathan, I'll try this once more but then I need to move on. I am trying to write a children's book that embodies Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. That's because I am a believer in Objectivism, almost completely. My belief system is so close to Objectivism that it would be more of a slap in the face to Ayn Rand and real Objectivists to pretend otherwise, than to cite the philosophy as my influence. You assume Ayn Rand would disapprove of someone trying to spread the fundamental principles of her belief system, even if that person (me) believed in the same fundamental principles. How ironic that she would supposedly disapprove of the spreading of individualist values through writing, though that's exactly what she did through her novels. Please tell me more about your close personal relationship with Ayn Rand, as I would love to pick her brain using you as an intellectual proxy. Think about it Jonathan. The only true Objectivist was Ayn Rand. Even Leonard Peikoff allegedly disagreed with some of her ideas (I say allegedly because I don't have your personal relationship with either of them). Thus, anyone who subscribes to Objectivism the way I do, and the way many people here probably do, are intrinsically living their own version of Objectivism. If I, or anyone else, try to put these beliefs on paper or in music or in the paintings you cringe at, we're using our own values, in line with as much of Objectivism we understand and agree with, coupled with our talents. That's it. That's all there is. My writing of a children's book from an Objectivism standpoint is not me trying to copy Ayn Rand. It's me using my talent and a belief system Ayn Rand helped me realize to spread a message I believe is right. To answer your question, there are two reasons I say "almost." First, I don't agree with Ayn Rand's personal views of homosexuality. I'm not sure what the "official" Objectivist view of homosexuality is, but I don't find it immoral any more than I find heterosexuality moral. In my opinion, anything that happens between consenting adults without victimizing anyone is not open to moral judgment, unlike someone slipping drugs to a second person in their drink and then taking advantage of them when they're passed out. The second reason I say "almost" is because I don't know 100% about Objectivism. I cannot say I agree with the philosophy 100% because I don't know that percentage about it. Name the alternative. If I agree/understand, say, 95% of Objectivism, and the 5% may be something like homosexuality or something I'm not aware of (so maybe I agree or disagree, but how do I know without knowing?), then my alternatives are threefold: first, I can write about something I believe, and give credit to Ayn Rand for naming this thought process; second, I can write about the stuff I disagree with for the sake of pure originality, but a children's book about the morality of homosexuality just for the sake of appeasing your idea may not go over so well; or third, I can write about something I don't believe in - pure sarcasm on paper - and become the Banner. Did Ayn Rand ever, to your knowledge, write a children's book? If not, then what I'm doing is as original as I can make it. If she did, please show me because I'd love to read it. I say this because nothing I've read so far (and that doesn't include her whole collected works) outlines an Objectivist's view toward children. I'm blazing new territory for the sake of my story. You'll notice none of her characters in any of her mainstream fiction ever had children - no little Roarks, Taggerts, or Galts running around, spawned by the main characters. In Atlas Shrugged, we see some of the characters as children, but in those cases they're somehow magically Objectivists already with no real explanation of how they got that way. As far as I know, Ayn Rand never had children. I'm not sure an Objectivist children's book could be any more original than it is by its very existence.
  8. Jesse, I'm trying to view this on my phone but it's not working well over my poor data connection. What I have seen so far seems pretty cool. I'll give you a better critique once I get home if you don't mind.
  9. No problems, anyone. I appreciate the critical nature of this discussion, and I hope you'll be equally critical when I start laying out the characters and the plot that follows. I think the story is going to be at once entertaining and thought-provoking.
  10. "So I'm saying that Novak here might not have a goal "to create art for the purpose of promoting someone else's ideas," but perhaps he wishes to create art for the purpose of promoting his own ideas, which are yet-Objectivist." You nailed it DonAthos. Thanks! R. Ellis Novak
  11. Wow, I didn't expect this topic to explode overnight. Let me try to put some of these concerns to rest, and if you're still not satisfied with the answer, let me know. Eiuol and Jonathan, I'm wondering why you question my "respect for the craft" and then point me at video games? I can't help but get the feeling you yourselves don't understand the craft. If that's the case, here are some tips: first, everyone has their own individual process. Some people jump on the typewriter and just start banging out pages, only to come back later and try to clean everything up after the fact through a series of revisions. Other people hash out a basic plot, then try to break that down to individual scenes, and then develop characters to fit the story as an afterthought. Still others develop the characters first in extreme detail, then base the story on the characters. The thing is, each of these (and other) approaches work, but they don't all work for everyone. I'm in the third group I mentioned. I develop my characters in depth, including their appearance, attitude, behavior (to include how they'd react to various situations), and even their ethnicity (based on their parents' ethnicities). Everything I write is character-driven. Second, Jonathan said, "Can you see Howard Roark wanting to design buildings based on some other architect's ideas? Can you see him saying that Henry Cameron's architectural concepts were incredibly important, and that they need to be carried on and promoted, so that's what Roark is going to do -- he's going to build more Cameron-style buildings, and maybe some Cameron-style playgrounds and tree houses so that children can learn to appreciate the greatness of Cameron's ideas?" Let me expand upon this point, and see if you know what you've said and what you missed. Was it Roark who went to Cameron or was it Keating who went to him? And why for both? Roark didn't go to Cameron to instill something he didn't already have; he went there to hone his craft with the one person whose work he respected. We know this to be true becase Cameron told him his work was still wrong, and with guidance he helped Roark go from good to great. Had Keating tried for a job with Cameron, imagine how that would have turned out. My point is, you're taking this all out of order. You suspect I want to re-create Rand's work specifically for children. What you don't understand is that I'm not Keating going to see Cameron; I'm Roark going to see Cameron. I want to create things based on my own beliefs, but it's Rand whose writing helped me understand the details I had trouble naming in my own belief system. In other words, I'm writing for my own beliefs, many of which fall into line with strict Objectivism. Part of my writing is going to be for children though, and while my characters will hold certain values regardless who the audience is, the way I need to present those values has to differ based on the audience. Roark, Dagney, Kiera are all extremely complex characters. Had Rand written a children's book, how would she present those ideas and those values in a way children would grasp? Respect for the craft...
  12. Kevin, I appreciate your feedback. Please allow me to address your concerns. The story might seem like propaganda, but in relation to what? Al Gore's global warming propaganda? Dr. Seuss' leftist/socialist propaganda? How about the sexuality and horrible relationship messages we see in the Twilight series? Not all propaganda in children’s books is bad though; just look at the Harry Potter series, basically a commentary on racism. You're right about one thing: there's no way to instill an understanding within anyone. But like I said, I don't want to instill an understanding; rather, I want to present a concept in a way younger children will be able to understand. Understanding is their conscious effort to grasp the concept. Keeping it out of their mental reach is counterproductive. Philosophy is not an adult discipline. If it was, none of the things I mentioned in the paragraph above would be available to children. Instead, I consider philosophy as something children should absolutely be exposed to. But there's a difference between presenting something as fact or presenting it as one alternative. You said, "Whether you're writing a children's book or an adult novel, you need to focus first on creating an engaging story." Of course, that goes without saying. You also said, "Too many Objectivist writers think it's their duty to create a philosophic screed dressed up as a work of art." In fact, the story and the purpose should evolve together. This isn't a reality show like Jersey Shore. It's an oroborus. Speaking only of fiction, the story without a purpose is as pathetic as a purpose without a story. How can a work of fiction aimed at children survive without either? I like my writing to reflect reality; I like my reality to reflect Objectivist principles. That said, is it wrong for a character to exhibit traits we associate with Objectivism? You also said, "Ayn Rand didn't do that, and you shouldn't either." Of course she did it. Her philosophy was the primary reason she wrote; she dressed it up in fantastic, engaging works of fiction (various plays, Anthem, We the Living, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged) to make it easier to understand. Each book was like a long hypothetical discussion about how different personality types meshed with her beliefs, what became known as Objectivism. But my goals are not that grand. I'm not writing the next Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead. Instead, all I endeavor to accomplish is to lay the most basic framework of a belief system I respect in such a way that children will understand some of the fundamentals. And, I do this because I absolutely believe the church, radical environmentalism, and the entertainment industry in general have too much of an influence on our young. These influences are unopposed. I don't want my childrens' first experience with critical thinking to come at 17 years old when they stumble across Atlas Shrugged in their school library, if it hasn't been banned by then. Kevin, I understand your concerns. I'd ask only that you give this project a chance before you judge it. Presenting a character who has a desire to be the best she can be without these other influences certainly can't be that much of a threat, can it? R. Ellis Novak
  13. Thanks again for the replies everyone. I think wishing, even praying, is a behavior that has to be learned, then accepted. The main character is a little older, early teens or thereabouts. Her parents never taught her to wish upon stars because of their personal beliefs, and when she was younger she tried based on other people doing so only to be left with the feeling it was pointless. She's the kind of character who says "I will" instead of "I wish." I think this is important because it's also why she's the one character to confront the evil characters of the book while other characters just wish he'd go away. Thanks for the continued interest!
  14. Thanks for the interest everyone! I'll post a brief premise either tonight or tomorrow. What I'm hearing here gives me the feeling I may be on the right track so far. The main character here finds life very joyous, and I hope I can convey that. Look for info soon. R. Ellis Novak
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