Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A New Story Published!

Hey all,

I have a new short story published here. Check it out, comment, and if you can, read the other stories on the site. It's pretty cool!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meet the Author: Becky Minor

Becky Minor is the author of The Windrider Serial, currently hosted on her blog, Call of the Creator. The serial sweeps readers into the adventures of a grouchy military elf, Vinyanel, his dragon-mount, Majestrin, and an annoyingly tenacious prophetess, Veranna. You'll want to check this out--Becky has done an excellent job with her world-building and her writing is a great read! When she publishes a novel, count me in as first in line to buy one.

Heather: When did you start writing? When did you first realize that God might want you to pursue it as a career, and how did you feel?

Becky: I have been jotting down stories, at least snippets of them, since I could hold a pencil. I have distinct childhood memories of asking my mother to spell every single word I wanted to put in speech bubbles at the mouths of the millions of little animals I drew talking to one another. I spent my teen years beginning and abandoning stories. Once I got into college, I developed a deep-seated fear of writing my own material, so the screenplays and storyboards I needed to write for my animation classes were always adaptations. I vehemently told myself I was no writer, and I should leave such lofty things to my betters.

About three years ago, though, a character formulated in my head, and she refused to stay quiet until I started to draft her story. Well, ironically, she only got louder from there, and from the foundation of that character came my first novel, The Sword of the Patron. I recall being very excited to discover there really was something called “Christian Speculative Fiction,” and upon learning that, the idea that the Lord might have a place for my story in the marketplace became more real. I was daunted by the steep odds of ever actually seeing a book in print, but I’ve also remained driven to get my message and the nuances of my world into the hands of readers.

Heather: Why did you begin writing fantasy?

Becky: Fantasy has always been at the core of my being. Knights, castles, swordfights, and other geeky stuff like that continually monopolize my imagination. As a teenager, the works of C.S. Lewis, Madeleine, L’Engle, Lloyd Alexander, Terry Brooks, and a host of others swept into my life. So began the romance. Then I picked up The Lord of the Rings for the first time and my love of all things fantasy was sealed like wax under a signet. (See? I am impossibly geeky.) (Me too! :0)

So when I began to write seriously, the only natural choice for me was fantasy. I love the epic conflict, the larger-than-life situations, and the worlds beyond imagination.

Heather: So, how do you get ideas for stories?

Becky: I am, first and foremost, a character-driven writer. The personality of the character always comes first. Then I take that character and drop him into my world and wait to see what conflicts arise.

“My world” is a setting I’ve been piecing together for an embarrassingly long time…probably about seventeen years or so now, though only remnants of those first jots about it remain in what I currently call the setting for my work. But at times, the world is as much a character as are the people who populate it. The political intricacies between nations, the history, even the landscape help create conflicts and goals for my characters.

Heather: What's your favorite fantasy creature?

Becky: Well, anybody who knows me will shake their heads at me if I don’t first say “Elves and dragons.” It’s true, I find the two of them to be at the core of much of what happens in my writing. But at present, the creature I’m having the most fun hashing out is the griffon. Two griffons play a significant role in the book that follows The Sword of the Patron, so I want to be sure to have their history, society, and behavior all in place so I can employ them properly.

Heather: How do you get over writer's block?

Becky: This is going to sound odd, but by writing. On those days where I know I’ve got to get a blog post out or a chapter cleaned up for my critique group, and my mind is an idea-free wasteland, I find the only cure is the old “butt in chair” time. I type—anything, no matter how awful— and eventually, the juices start flowing again. I may have to scrap thousands of words of horribleness, but I do get back on track, typically.

If all else fails, I go take a shower. It seems that’s where the majority of my ideas hang out, waiting for the moment I have a head full of shampoo and no computer in sight to bombard me. If they ever make a shower-proof laptop, I may be in the market.

Heather: :0) . Do you have a favorite funny quote about writing?

Becky: This isn’t necessarily funny in the knee-slapper sense, but it does make me smile. Ernest Hemingway once said, “For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.”

Every now and then, I go back and read something I’ve read, and I say “I wrote that? I wrote that!” And that’s what keeps me crafting the words…the hope of another chance to surprise myself. Or more likely, the chance for the Lord to reach down into my story and make something more than my vocabulary and (really pathetic) typing skills can do on their own.

Heather: Is there a piece of writing advice that you wished you'd discovered earlier?

Becky: Oh, my goodness, just one? I’m one of those people who wrote a whole book before I knew any of the “rules.” (Makes for lots of revisions.) But I think one of the best things I’ve read for the sake of long-term sanity is Jeff Gerke’s adage: “Be teachable. [Then] stop being teachable.” What a mess we can make of our work (and especially our voices) if we latch onto every suggestion thrown at us as writers. I pray every day for the discernment to know what critique makes my work better, and what only makes it different.

Heather: Thank you Becky, for sharing the workings of your geeky writer's brain! :0) Now, go check out Becky's blog, catch up on past Windrider episodes, and sign up to get them in your email. You won't regret it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Eternity Falls By Kirk Outerbridge

Eternity Falls stars Rick Macey, a private detective who excels in using the neural technology of the day. When Macey is called to investigate the cause of a movie star's death, he finds the woman had been receiving GenTec's Miracle Treatment, designed to reverse the aging process and enable someone to live forever. Only, GenTec's marketing guru Sheila Dunn is afraid that the Miracle Treatment might be construed as the cause of death, and she wants Macey to prove that there was a different killer.

Several obscure clues lead Macey to the underpinnings of a deadly plot. What's worse (besides falling in love with Sheila, no matter how hard he tries not to) is that he's sure he knows the mastermind. Macey is forced to confront his past and his faith as he fights to stop the plotters.

The book is written in sharp, biting way that matches PI Macey's personality. Author Kirk Outerbridge does an excellent job pacing the plot, sprinkling a few slower scenes in between chases, explosions, and shootouts--you know, all the stuff of a good hard-boiled cyber-thriller. There were times I felt as if I'd barely caught my breath before Macey and Sheila took off again. The technology is believable and easy to understand without long explanations.

The characters were well-developed with understandable motivations, and the plot was familiar enough to make me comfortable, but new enough to keep me interested. Some of the theology interplay and thought processes of the characters really intrigued me, and one of the biggest questions in the book--would God approve of treatments that allowed someone to live forever--gave me food for thought for several days afterward.

That said, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone under 16. My reasoning for this lies in the blatant references to questionable lifestyles, homosexuality and hard-core partying being just a couple. I understand that the author did this to show the depravity of a largely anti-Christian, bored culture (I say bored because everyone who has been given the Miracle Treatment lives pretty much forever, so they quickly begin indulging themselves in whatever they want), but I would have preferred less information than what he gave.

Eternity Falls by Kirk Outerbridge is a worthwhile, thought-provoking, exciting read nonetheless. Four stars.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Continuing the Adventure

Yesterday, March 6th, was the first anniversary of my wedding!!!!

Wow. A year with a wonderful husband, in a wonderful place, making amazing new friends and learning cool new things--you can't beat it! God has truly blessed my first year of marriage to Justin. I'm still learning what makes my handsome hubby tick, and each day is another adventure. I have to say that I'm truly happy, truly content, and that I LOVE MY LIFE! :0)

As you read this, Justin and I are probably making our way to the Keeweenaw Peninsula for an anniversary getaway...a nice room in an old lighthouse-turned-bed-and-breakfast and, tomorrow, our first attempt at snowmobiling! YEAH! This, my friends, is the epitome of marriage: compromise. ;0) OK, I'll admit, I want to try snowmobiling as much as Justin does.

Here's to more adventures with Justin!

(And I promise to post pictures...I've been lax on showing you our winter adventures lately.)

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