Monday, May 30, 2011

On Vacation...

For this week and the next to visit the family down in Missouri. Come visit on June 13 for my review of Mitchell Bonds' Hero In Hiding. And don't forget to visit The Lost Scribes blog on Wednesday, June 1st, for the second chapter of Falls the Shadow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New Short Story

My short story, Anchor to the World, is up at Avenir Eclectia today. Please check it out and comment!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Good things come to those who...edit?

I've probably said this before, but it bears saying again...

I don't like editing.

I'm all the creative side of writing. There's nothing that thrills me more than when my brain gets going so fast that my fingers can barely keep up, or when I reread something and say, "Yeah--nailed it!" If I've put in a good day of writing, I don't mind the achy back so much. *Note to self: save up for a nice desk chair with a built in massager...oh yeah...*

But I know that, in today's world, no self-respecting author can get anywhere without editing. And I guess it's not all a bad thing--it just serves as a reminder that writing does take time and patience. Patience. As I used to tell my mom, "Patience is a virtue that I do not possess."

I think that since last November, God has been teaching me about patience. About taking the time to get to know the story, to make sure I fully understand where it's going to take me. I obviously didn't understand with Nightsword. And now with Half Blood...well, let's just say I'm starting the 4th rewrite of the beginning of the third draft. It's taken me a while to understand the beginning I need for Half Blood, and now that I'm rewriting, I'm very glad I was patient and didn't forge ahead with the old beginning. The new beginning is so much better. Lots of tie-ins to the Christian life there, eh?

And I find that if I'm patient, I'm more content. That applies to everything in my life. Don't rush, just be patient and content. I thought I'd learned this lesson right before Justin & I started courting. Obviously, God thought I needed a refresher course. ;) Live and learn.

Back to editing--it's not that I don't like making something as good as I possibly can. It's just getting there can be so darn frustrating.

I can see my writer friends rolling their eyes and saying, "Stop whining! Get back in there and edit so we can actually read Half Blood at some point in the near future!"

OK, OK, going. But be warned--this isn't my last post on editing! :)

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No blog post next Monday.

Monday, May 16, 2011

3 Heads--better than one or even two

Well, everyone, Falls the Shadow is officially live with chapter one being posted yesterday! If you didn't get a chance to read it yet, please hop on over to The Lost Scribes and tell us what you think!

A friend on the Christian Writers forum I'm on asked about the collaboration process that went on for Falls the Shadow. I'm not sure what people will think of our model of "collaboration". The model I'm most familiar with is where one expert provides the story or the research, and an author does the actual writing. Think the Left Behind series. Another fantasy series I enjoy, The Berinfell Chronicles, was co-written by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper, but I don't know how they did it.

I wasn't really sure how to explain our process until I watched a documentary on Pixar. As they evolved into a large company, they had several different teams working on different projects. Those teams will get together every morning, bring their previous day's work, and brainstorm about the story.

That's similar to what Mary, Elynn, and I did, though most of it was over the phone or email. (Justin put up with several months of long Saturday conversations--although I won't say "poor Justin", because he enjoyed tormenting all of us way too much.) I emailed them with a vague, "Hey, what if we got together, created a story world, and detailed a quest from three different character povs, with each of writing a character?"

LoriAnn came back with, "YES! Could we do something in the steampunk genre?"

And I thought, "Hmm. Steampunk. Victorian era producing space-flight? Sounds cool. I need to check this out."

Then Mary came back with, "You guys have been thinking about steampunk too? Let's do it!"

And it was decided. We never really got to the "quest" part, but over the next few months, we were emailing almost every day as we brainstormed together. Probably the hardest thing about it was having an idea, but not being able to run with it until checking with my partners. We all worked really well together as we thought of plot, setting, and--the funnest one--characters. I honestly think the characters will end up being the strongest point in the book, because we forced each other to really dig deep into their attitudes and personalities. Many times, we'd deviate from a plot point to discuss whether Maricossa really would do that, or if Skylar should react that way, or how Libby would handle that kind of comment. Having two others getting to know my own character was really neat, because then they would bring up questions about her personality that would really make me think--and pulled out a few little quirks and surprises that I didn't know were there!

Every discussion we had, I'd come away invigorated and excited, not only about our collaborative novel, but my writing as a whole. Even when we're done with the collaborative novel, I hope to keep brainstorming. It's so nice to have several others thinking too!

So, are we crazy? Yep. Do we have big dreams for this novel? You bet! Would we do it again? I would--and we might. ;P

Have you ever collaborated with anyone to write? How about brainstorming--do you do best on your own, or do you like to talk about writing with others?

Mary's thoughts on the process (and how she and I came up with the system) can be read here.

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Next week's post contains a few random thoughts about editing--hope to see you there!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sneak Peak: Falls the Shadow

Falls the Shadow: Prologue

I was too young to remember this city before the wars started. The ones who do remember say it was the greatest city in the world: high education, low crime, good economy. Part of the city—‘The Forgotten Sector’—had already been abandoned during the earlier Technology Boom, when new strides in development made the entire place obsolete. Only the poor, the fugitives, those with nowhere else to go, still lived there.

The rest of the city was a marvel, a crown jewel of human civilization. Imagination and architecture, technology and education, art and science, all came together in the great city: Shandor Rei, the capital of Antolic.

Even though I don’t remember it, that’s how the city was when I left it.

Even if I did remember it, I wouldn’t have recognized it when I came back. Within days of my mother taking me across the border into the neighboring country of Cimarrah, Antolic collapsed into chaos—leading to war.

A scientist experimenting with computer viruses as weapons of war had created a ‘bug’ designed to target Convey-Directs—the single most important source of information and education in the world. C-Ds were a product of the Technology Boom, and over time had come to replace textbooks as the mode of education in schools. By the time the scientist began his virus experiment, C-D technology had developed so far as to have replaced written text itself, transmitting information through a person’s eye and ear directly into their brain.

The theory behind the weapons experiment was that, without education of any kind, the targeted society would crumble, opening the way for complete takeover by an outside force.

It worked. Shandor Rei learned just how accurate the theory was when the virus was released—whether by mistake or design, no one knew—and destroyed every Convey-Direct on the continent.

Within days, riots broke out in the streets. The people stormed Shandor Rei’s municipal buildings, demanding retribution for what had happened. But the government was as helpless as anyone else to counteract the virus, and the scientist responsible for its development had disappeared.

With information relay hampered by the loss of the C-Ds, authorities quickly lost track of the death toll in the melee that followed, with murders, assassinations, and riots claiming dozens of lives every day. The general panic among citizens grew, feeding on itself as passing days brought no sign of the C-Ds being restored to working order. By the time two weeks had passed, scarcely anyone in the Antolican government remained alive, much less in office.

Though Cimarrah had suffered the same crippling loss of the C-Ds as Antolic, her government officials were apparently either more enterprising—or more prepared—than Antolic’s. Shortly after the Antolican government had been completely deposed, Cimarran officials arrived in Shandor Rei with promises of order restored and immediate research begun to reprogram the destroyed C-Ds, provided the riots and violence were stopped.

At first, the citizens complied, and the Cimarran officials established themselves in the place of the fallen Antolican government. But as months passed, no evident progress was made

in restoring the C-Ds. The stirrings of unrest began again among the citizens, finally resulting in another march on the capitol building.

Only this time, the people’s protests were met with government retaliation of unprecedented proportions. Aircraft hovering over the city dropped incendiary bombs on dozens of Shandor Rei’s largest and most essential structures. Buildings burned to skeletons and imploded, spreading flames to other buildings that had escaped the bomb strikes. Bridges collapsed, halting traffic. Transportation tunnels caved in, burying hundreds alive beneath the city streets.

Public outrage withered into embittered desolation following the bombings. The newly established government offered the people no assistance or relief in dealing with the destruction they had unleashed… but there were no more uprisings. They had broken the spirit of Shandor Rei’s people with a single, devastating strike.

Since those days, little has changed. The Cimarran officials who first brought the Antolicans to heel during the Bug Wars have now grown to become The White Tiger—a vast, but practically invisible network of control, espionage, and international political conspiracy.

Shandor Rei remains a shell, a bombed-out, haggard shadow of what she once was. The war’s destruction remains largely unrepaired. Poverty is the new normal in what was once one of the world’s wealthiest cities. And, needless to say, education is largely nonexistent, as no one has yet been able to successfully repair or redesign the C-Ds.

Some have tried—are still trying—to bring back books and written text in education. But books are a rare find any more; what few remained after the Technology Boom were undoubtedly destroyed during the Bug War. Even if a book does surface, it rarely does any good, since people who can actually read them are as rare as the books themselves.

***

This is the Shandor Rei I came back to, three years ago. This is the Shandor Rei I live and work in.

This is the Shandor Rei where I hope to find answers… though by now I’ve been seeking answers for so long that I sometimes wonder… if I’ve forgotten the original questions.

Book Review: The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathon Rogers


"I only know one man who might be able to tell me where I come from, and that man is a liar and a fraud."

The only life orphan Grady has known is a dangerous one, tramping from village to village with a huckster named Floyd. Grady and Floyd specialize in a show called The Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp--because everyone wants to see a real live, in the flesh feechie, right?

Not necessarily.

When Floyd and Grady get down on their luck, they try out some other schemes, to no avail. Seems like the only thing they were ever good at was the feechie scam. So they dream up an idea guaranteed to make them money--they're going to create a big feechie scare that will have folks flocking to see their act!

The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathon Rogers is a fun read in an unusual world. Corenwald is populated with coal miners, farmers, buckskin-clad hunters, hucksters, and of course the infamous feechie, a creature with a propensity for bad grammer, worse manners, fisticuffs, and gator-grabblin'. Readers were first introduced to Corenwald with Rogers' The Way of the Wilderking Trilogy: The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, andThe Way of the Wilderking, an allegory of King David.

The Charlatan's Boy continues the fun as Rogers chronicles the escapades of Grady and Floyd. I can't count the number of times I giggled while I was reading this book. Floyd is a ridiculous old shyster, always scheming up the next big thing, and sometimes it made me want to give him a big kick. Grady was a sweet character, loyal, funny, and even honest, despite his trade. And all the supporting characters had quirks that added a lot to the general fun of the book.

Reading this book was like curling up in a camping chair to listen to a storyteller by the campfire. This isn't an action-filled book, so the plot tends to take it's own sweet time getting to the conclusion, but that's not a bad thing at all. In fact, the book wouldn't be half so fun if it had focused just on the action and conclusion.

In my mind, The Charlatan's Boy makes a perfect family read-aloud story. It gets five stars!

~*~I received this book for free from WaterBrook Press's Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review~*~

Monday, May 2, 2011

Falls The Shadow: Steampunk as You've Never Seen It Before!

Do you remember this post from Janurary?

I've also started a project with LoriAnn and Mary. For now, it's called The Lost Scribes, but we'll see how long that sticks.

*drum roll please*

The Lost Scribes blog is now live! On May 15th, we will begin posting Christian speculative fiction's first multi-authored steampunk novel!

Steampunk is a relatively new speculative fiction genre, at least to the Christian world. I've heard people talk about writing steampunk novels on forums, but I don't know of a single Christian steampunk novel that's been published (if I'm wrong, let me know! I want to read it!). It' a genre that I've fallen in love with--imagine the Victorian era with spaceflight, lots of metal and gears, segues, and laptops. Disney's Treasure Island and Atlantis have steampunk flavors as well as Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In fact, I think Jules Verne has been called the first author of steampunk.

I absolutely love it. It's such a fun, imaginative genre to play in. What's better is that Mary & LoriAnn were willing to join me. Writing a novel with three different people, from three different characters' points of view, was quite a challenge--but it also made for lots of fun brainstorming phone calls.

I hope that you'll take time to check out The Lost Scribes blog. Right now, there's just a welcome post, but Falls the Shadow will start on May 15th and continue being posted the 1st and 15th of every month. I hope you enjoy reading Falls the Shadow as much as we enjoyed writing it!

Falls the Shadow

Libby Con Brio is the curator of a secret library that has been abandoned before the war.

Galvin Maricossa is an agent in a government's secret society, the White Tiger, who want to destroy all the books they can find.

Skylar Bench is a member of an underground organization, the College, dedicated to restoring education.

In a world devastated by war, where books are used as fuel for fires, these three are drawn together by their love of books and reading. All three face live-changing choices to keep the books, their last chance of bringing their country out from under the White Tiger's thumb, safe.

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