Showing posts from 2015

A Long-Expected Announcement

I have a short story in an anthology! My short story, "The Debt-Keeper," was published in the Crossover Alliance Anthology Vol. 2 this month. That's me on the top right of the list. :D I've been keeping this announcement under wraps until our family Christmas celebrations were past, though, because part of our gifts to our parents were copies of the anthology (which you can purchase directly from The Crossover Alliance in your ebook format of choice  here  or in Kindle and paperback formats here *). This is a big deal for me, and I've had the hardest time not spoiling the surprise. You can also check out this awesome group interview  that Peter Younghusband (who also wrote the foreword to the anthology) conducted with all the authors in the book. I wrote a little about the origins of the story and the world of John Valley where it and my two stories in When the House Whispers are set. If you'd like to get a book of stories to entertain a

Writing Lessons from Dr. Seuss, or What the Grinch Teaches Us about Storytelling

As we commenced our annual viewing of the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas , I discovered that this simple little special (and the book upon which it's based) offer some impressive little tips on writing, and I thought I would share those with you (as much for my own edification as for yours). 1. Introduce the conflict ASAP. "All the Whos down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot, but the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not." Seuss just lays down the central conflict in a sentence. Granted, he's writing a children's book so he has less room to wiggle, but no matter whether you side with the Whos or the Grinch at first, your attention is caught. 2. Don't overexplain your antagonist. There's something to be said for mystery and ambiguity. No one quite knows the reason, but here's a working theory. 3. Keep your characters true to themselves, and the story will follow. You can't have the Grinch hate Chri

Hard Lessons for Christmastime

Hello, everyone! I'm sorry I all but disappeared last month. NaNoWriMo took up a lot of my spare time. To sum up: I won NaNo with about 52,000 words, but didn't finish There's No Place Like Home? by about 10,000-15,000 words. So December's goal is to finish that up and maybe get a couple other small writing projects off the ground. While working on NaNo, I've also been preparing for Christmas dramas at church. Really, I've been preparing for them since some time in August or September (I've slept since then, so the exact details are a bit fuzzy), but we are now in crunch time, with the next two Sundays taken up with adult drama (written by yours truly) and a children's musical (which I will only be participating in as a character). Not THAT character, but the show does have a Whoville-type setting. And in the last few months of preparation for these productions, along with an Advent-starting service this past Sunday, God has been teaching

Beautiful Books Part 2, The Writing Process

It's time for another Beautiful Books post. This blog link-up is hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In . This month, the questions are focused on the writing process. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations? I would say it's turning out mostly as expected, but with fun twists and layers I hadn't expected (which is in itself something I'd hoped for/expected). What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)? "A grey existence can hardly be called living, no matter the busyness it may use as a mask." Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out? I'm a bit of both. I tend to focus heavily on discovery writing (in first drafts especially), but I love a good outline, and almost any future drafts will be outlined several times as a tool to organize, edit, and revise what's already there

A Publishing Announcement

Two of my stories set in John Valley have been included in a Halloween-themed anthology put out by Oloris Publishing, When the House Whispers . This is basically my face right now. You can purchase the anthology here  in EPUB or MOBI format.

Do not Go Gentle into that Good Book

I've talked before about stories being more than "just" fiction. The topic came up again recently in a couple of conversations with some friends of mine, and I thought of another angle for the Christian who enjoys stories in all their forms. There's a spectrum of responses to the idea that stories have the power to affect us. On one extreme lie the folks who say that stories are dangerous and should be avoided at all costs unless they are safe and uplifting, free of all the bits that might make us uncomfortable or indicate anything beyond surface-level sin. On the other end sit the folks who say stories don't affect us in any way, so let's all just enjoy the show, you bunch of kill-joys. (Incidentally, there's a third group which occupies a place at either end of this; this group acknowledges the power of stories, but believes stories can only affect us positively and therefore should be enjoyed without thought or worry.)* The best stance, from my expe

Beautiful Books (A Blog Link-Up with Further Up and Further In)

Currently Writing: Albion book 2                                NaNoWriMo prep Currently Reading: A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny                                 Blood Thirst: 100 Years of Vampire Fiction by Leonard Wolf                                 Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb                                 Monster by Mirriam Neal My friend Sky at Further Up and Further In does a blog link-up for writers called Beautiful People every so often that allows writers to delve into their characters and share those insights with each other on their blogs. This month, in anticipation of NaNoWriMo, she's changing it up and making it Beautiful Books instead, so we can all introduce our novels to each other. Since I'm doing a NaNo novel this year that I'm pretty excited about, I decided to participate. 1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea? The germ of this novel came from listening to RED's a

Top 10 Fantasy Books

Once again, it's time to see what my Top 10 favorites in a category are. This time it's (big surprise) fantasy novels! As usual, these are in no particular order and may be subject to change at any given moment. (Favorites are rarely forever, and change as we do.) The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis I'm going to do my best to limit myself to one book per series.  The Horse and His Boy  has been my favorite book in the Narnia series since I first read them in middle school. For some reason, I have always felt drawn to Shasta's story, his journey and adventures, and especially his encounter with Aslan. I think that Aslan's words in this book, more than any other, have been the ones that resonate with my soul. While my favorite Narnia books may change order from time to time, this one always rises to the top. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien I'd put all of Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium on here, but as I said I'm trying

Subversion in Fiction

Currently Reading: Ladyhawke by Joan D. Vinge                               The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (reread)                               Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb Currently Writing: Merlin Book 2                              Wizard of Oz retelling (outlining and prewriting) When I was in grad school, one of the major topics we discussed in any given writing class was the idea of transgression or subversion -- working against or around the status quo. The discussion always made authors who transgressed against the commonly held ideas of society seem like the cool, rebellious kids at school that everyone wants to be acknowledged by. Except I never did. Maybe I'm the odd man out on this one, but I never saw the appeal in what appeared to me to be stirring up controversy for the sake of controversy (or sales, in  some cases). It's just not how I think or operate. Oftentimes "transgressive" literature wasn't written for that reason, b

The Power of Stories -- Not "Just" Entertainment

"But that's not the way of it in the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually -- their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten." -- Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings , Book IV Chapter 8 In The Two Towers , Sam ponders on the sort of tale he and Frodo have fallen into, comparing it to the ones "that really mattered." For Sam, the stories that really mattered are the ones in which characters press on to the end regardless of their circumstances, and some of them had really horrible circumstances; he mentions Beren facing Morgoth (the first Dark Lord of Middle-earth) and taking one of the Silmarils from Morgoth's crown in a time when no one -- I mean no one -- could be expected to survive such an attempt, much less

Villains Revisited

What I'm Writing:  Merlin Book 2 (first draft; planned to be finished by November)                                 Oz retelling (pre-writing and outlining; planned for NaNoWriMo 2015) What I'm Reading: The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)                                 The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater                                 Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb (Kindle)                                 Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography                                 They Have Not Seen the Stars: The Collected Poetry of Ray Bradbury                                 Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper (audiobook; reread) A while back I talked about villains with shallow motivation making for weak characters -- and by extension, weak stories and conflict. I finished Dune a few days ago, and it has got one of the best-written villains I've come across in a while. He's truly villainous, and odious to boot. I'm talking about

My Favorite Songs Inspired by Narnia

Currently Writing:   Merlin Book 2 Currently Reading:   Dune  by Frank Herbert                                  The Silmarillion  by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)                                  The Woodcutter  by Kate Danley (Kindle)                                 The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket (audio) For the purposes of this post, I'm not considering any instrumental tracks, but I will mention some of my favorites. "Heart of Courage" by Two Steps from Hell was the trailer music for the Walden version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe , and it still gets me excited for Narnia. There are various tracks from the LWW and PC soundtracks that evoke the longing for Narnia, such as "Narnian Lullaby," and the themes "One Day" and "Reepicheep's Theme." The Narnian Lullaby from the BBC Narnia films is also a favorite of mine. Now, without further ado, here are some of my favorite Narnian songs: " In Like a L

Top Ten Books to Reread

Currently Writing:  Merlin Book 2 Currently Reading: Dune by Frank Herbert                                 The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)                                 The Woodcutter by Kate Danley (Kindle) I've been wanting to do another Top 10 post since the first one. I can't do a Top 10 Books general post because there are just too many I love, so I decided that Top 10 rereads was the best way to go. So here, in no particular order, are my Top 10 Books to Reread: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis I'm counting this whole series as one book, not only because I have an omnibus edition, but because I love to read all of them again and again. All told, I've probably read the whole series five or six times, and individual books anywhere from that number to ten or so. I never come out of reading these books without something new occurring to me. I never get tired of reading Aslan's words to the various protagonists and living throug