Saturday, July 28, 2007

More On Dresden 3

Grave Peril is turning out to be a really, really good book. As I said before, the first two books were interesting and everyone was saying the third was much better. I found out today just how much better. While waiting around at Son Number One's swim meet I got to read several chapters through the middle. The Christian character, Michael, is rock solid and brought tears to my eyes on two occasions. Once when he was talking to Harry in the hospital with his prematurely born son clinging to life, and a second time when he was overwhelmed by a horde of ravenous vampires. He screamed out the name of Jesus (in Latin, which just made it all the more cool) and blasted the lot of them with a Holy power that continues to bring Dresden closer to God.

Despite the swearing and oversexualized nature of the vampires, this is turning out to be a pretty good Christian book. Harry Dresden has said in other books that he doesn't believe in God. Then he corrects himself, it's not that he doesn't believe, it's that God and him just don't see eye to eye. That relationship is now explored in greater detail. What is most impressive about Butcher's writing here is that he doesn't go for the stereotypical, TV evangelist, cardboard Christian caricature. Michael is played straight and sincere, as close to scriptural as can be, given the urban fantasy setting. Even though I'm still not finished with Grave Peril, I can give it an enthusiastic 3 1/2 stars.

BTW, Son Number One got a first place ribbon in the 50 meter freestyle.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

50/50

I'm up to 28 proposals sent out to agents regarding 1000 Things About Me. Half of them have responded and gently dashed my hopes against the rocks of despair. OK, well maybe not rocks but definitely course sand. And I wouldn't quite say 'dashed' but maybe something like, I don't know, 'mooshed.' Come to think of it, despair is a bit of an overstatement. But, well... whatever.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More on Robin Parrish

Robin is also the creator of Infuze Magazine. This is an interesting e-zine that deals with all things creative and how they work through a faith in God. There's a lot of stuff to browse through on the site, from blogs to general news, and it is well worth your time.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Fearless Tour

This month's CSFF tour is Fearless by Robin Parrish.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Birthday Month

Son Number Three turned 1 year old. I've noticed that the birthday parties have become less grand for each kid as the years go by. Number One got a party in Vegas for his first, Number Three got some carrot cake at Old Country Buffet.

By the way, I turn 39 tomorrow and will celebrate by watching my saved Daily Show episodes.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Easy Bake Butchery

According to this article, Easy Bake ovens are being recalled because hundreds of children are harmed by them. They are getting their fingers caught and getting seriously burned. One even required a partial amputation.

OK, I have to say this. Who are these moron children and how come they don't possess enough common sense to avoid getting hurt by a stupid toy? Is it really that difficult to understand that sticking your fingers into hot metal things might be inherently dangerous? Next thing they'll be doing is shooting plastic torpedoes down their throats and wondering why they suddenly can't breathe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dresden 2 v. Dresden 3

I've finished the second book in The Dresden Files, Fool Moon. It had several good things going for it. Harry Dresden comes along as a great character, lots of good magic explanations, and a truly vicious werewolf thing that was one part Rin Tin Tin and seventeen parts Terminator. It was a basically solid and enjoyable book. The one thing that annoyed me as a writer and a reader was Butcher's timing. Characters simply say and think too many things while the werewolves are charging at them from a few feet away. Not only does the timing issue arise in close quarters combat, it happens on a larger scale as well. Too many things are going on in what seems to me as too short a time frame.

Now for a word on Book 3, Grave Peril. It is very good right out of the gate. Butcher employs one of my favorite tricks as a writer. He starts with the second chapter instead of the first. The story opens with him and some other character racing across town to stop something awful from happening. You have no idea what is going on but it is exciting nonetheless. Then you have a very eerie scene between the good guys and a ghost that is in a ward full of newborns, sweetly singing them to death.

Looks like Book 3 is the breakout book of the series.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Changes At The Sword Review

Interesting things are happening with the good people over at Double Edged Publishing. According to this article they will soon be launching a new magazine called MindFlights that will be a combination of their two strongest brands. I think this is a good move for them and I'm looking forward to the new site.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Hits Keep On Coming

Got a rejection email from Relief over the weekend. That's probably a good thing because they were not a paying market and I have a couple of possibilities for further submissions. First up is Paradox magazine which I think is a strong fit for "Such Great Faith" since it is largely an historical story. They also pay 3-5 cents per word which is starting to reach professional levels.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

SpongeBob Time

This weekend we went camping up near Bellingham, WA, at a place called Silver Lake and did the normal camping things. One interesting bit of family lore that has developed in our household is the use of SpongeBob Time. The kids have a tendency to constantly ask how long until we get somewhere. When we answer them, they still don't have a good concept of how long two and a half hours are. So we've gotten into the habit of converting time estimates into the number of SpongeBob episode equivalents it will take. That's something they can relate to a little easier.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I Am War

This did not surprise me at all.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Your Result: War

When the second seal is opened, you will ride forth on a red horse carrying a sword, unleashing war and destruction. Your mission is to take peace from the earth, so that man will kill one another. The color of your horse represents the blood spilled on the battlefield.

Death
Famine
Pestilence
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Monday, July 09, 2007

More Rejection

This weekend I received a rejection note from Image Journal regarding my story "Such Great Faith." I suspected they were not exactly right for it. A little while back I got an email from the editors at Relief saying they were still considering it so I continue to wait. In the mean time, I have started writing more on "The Battle of Raven Kill" so I can get another story into the submission cycle.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sixteen and Six

So far I've managed to send out 16 queries to agents regarding 1000 Things About Me. Six have rejected it already, some getting back to me within hours. The process is not what I expected. When I seriously started working towards publication a few years ago I did my research on how to do it. Back then the primary method was mailing proposals and query letters through the mail. Very few agents accepted email queries. Oh what a difference a few years makes. Now the are very few agents who don't accept email and most of them prefer it. This makes things easier. Now it only takes a few minutes of cutting and pasting to send the email off. Also, they can respond much quicker and don't have a load of paper piling up on their desks. Ain't technology grand?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Writing Lessons From Failed Writing

Here's a bit of a lesson that I posted elsewhere so I'll plagiarize myself and repeat it here. It describes the failure of my novel attempt a few years ago when the thing fell apart after about 100K words.

The novel I nearly finished while in New Orleans was doomed from the start by serious structural flaws in the plot. A plot must be thought out and must survive a series of questions that mostly start with 'why.' Why must that be that way? Why do the characters do that? Why would the villain do that and not just shoot them? Why is anybody bothering to do anything at all?

I had an implausible premise from the beginning and didn't realize it until too late. The further I got along the more difficult it became. I couldn't think of any solid reason that could recover it. Also, I had the hero separate from the rest of the pack and head back to get revenge on the villain. Soon after that I lost the structure I needed and couldn't recover.

Stories are presented in three acts with the hero going through four phases: orphan, wanderer, warrior, and martyr. He or she goes from reactive to proactive at the midpoint of the story. The timing and spacing of these phases need to be hit at the right times because that's what readers expect after years of training with other books as well as movies. You miss these marks at your peril and I missed them terribly. Combine that with the implausible plot and the thing fell apart, becoming nothing more than a series of scenes with no arc and no compelling reason to root for the hero.

That, by the way, is a textbook way to kill your novel.

And learn something all at the same time.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fourth Stop on the Fantasy Fiction Tour

The Fantasy Fiction Tour is about to kick off and the next author to discuss is Sharon Hinck. I've got some previous posts regarding her book The Restorer so let's talk about the sequel, The Restorer's Son.

This looks like an interesting follow up based on the promo copy:

While studying the Book of Judges, housewife and mom Susan longs to be a prophet like Deborah. And she gets her wish when she stumbles into an alternate universe! But now Susan's successor---the next restorer---is rebelling against his destiny. Can Kieran be persuaded to make the sacrifices necessary to save his people?

Sounds like a good prodigal son story and it should be well received.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Third Stop on the Fantasy Fiction Tour

Today let's do Bryan Davis. His series is called Dragons in Our Midst. Here is some of the copy from his website regarding the first book, Raising Dragons.

Raising Dragons is a contemporary fantasy novel that inspires young people to dig deep within to find their God-given strengths and use them to overcome any obstacle. It is both a hair-raising, modern-day adventure and a glimpse into another world—a world of knights, dragons, and fair maidens.

These kids find out that they are born of former dragons and have a heritage that may prove difficult. Great stuff!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Let Me Count the Ways

Here is an example of my sick sense of humor and how it is rubbing off on my children. The other day at dinner Son Number Two is talking about something and uses the old saying that we've all heard before: There's more than one way to skin a cat. Son Number One says, "Yeah, like an industrial shredder." I of course corrected him because skinning a cat suggests that the rest of the body is left intact. Then we started coming up with methods and tools one could use to implement a cat skinning policy. That got me to thinking. Just how many ways are there to skin a cat?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Second Stop on the Fantasy Fiction Tour

Next we'll do Christopher Hopper's Rise of the Dibor. Here's part of the book's description from the author's website:

A World untouched by evil and ignorant of temptation is quietly awakened to a wicked influence in its kingdom that threatens to destroy all life. At first any signs of change are subtle, but slowly even Creation itself heralds the impending doom that awaits.

Visit Christopher's blog to find out more.

Monday, July 02, 2007

First Stop on the Fantasy Fiction Tour

I'll go through the books on the tour in no particular order. First up is The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson. This book looks really cool and I plan on buying the series for my son when we finally finish Eragon. (Which can't be soon enough, boy that book is awful.) This book is the first of a series and looks very impressive. It's about a boy from our world who is transported to a fantasy realm where adventure abounds. It's just the sort of stuff my 10 year old loves.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Fantasy Fiction Tour

I cooperation with the other bloggers of the CSFF, I'm promoting the Fantasy Fiction Tour with Wayne Thomas Batson, Sharon Hinck, Bryan Davis, and Christopher Hopper. Visit all these sites to see what's going on and whether or not the tour will be in your area. As always, more info to follow.