Sunday, August 31, 2008

Last Political Post (For A While)

Couldn't resist linking to this post on Sarah Palin. This election's gonna be fun.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

John McCain: The American President Americans Have Been Waiting For

I do not normally highlight my political beliefs in this blog for two reasons:

1. It's a writing blog, not a political one.
2. As soon as you take a stance on politics, half of everyone you previously knew hates you.

But what I find amazing (and I don't often amaze myself) is how stirred I am by this current Presidential race. McCain wasn't even my first pick in the primaries. Come to think of it, he wasn't my second, third, or fourth. That's all changed now and I find myself really charged up about the possibility of a McCain victory. It's more than just my natural leaning towards the Republican party as the current vehicle of conservatism in America. It's more than just the scary prospect of an Obama administration and how they will increase taxes and government control. I'm finding there's something about McCain, something about his life story, something about his drive and integrity and plain talk that are causing an emotional connection like I never had with either of the Bushes or even Reagan. (Of course, I was in High School when Reagan was President and while I was conservative, I was, ummm, less refined.)

I think the POW/military angle is primarily responsible for this but there is also the real chance that somebody is finally going to take the reins in this country and actually do something to cut back on the encroachment of government. Palin was an excellent choice for VP. They both have that maverick reputation and I hope they get in office and start reforming things that have long festered.

McCain & Palin: Faith in the hope for change that we can believe in.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

CSFF August Tour

I've been neglectful of this month's CSFF tour but the book is Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer. It is the type of Christian fiction that seems to be gaining a foothold in today's market. Long has Christian fiction been synonymous with plains romances but that is changing. Blackstock and Dekker are creating a good catalog of, let's be frank, 'guy fiction.' It's the type of stuff that competes with Clancy and Koontz and gives male readers a way to get more depth from their fiction. I say we need more of it.

Which might lead a casual blog reader to look at my last post about carnage and blood and wonder what the heck I'm doing. You would be right to ponder that; I do myself at times. Sword & Sorcery has plenty of un-Godly stuff in it but that is not much different than the world around us. My contributions to the genre attempt to follow a line that is not contradictory to a Christian world view. To the extent that I can, I try to provide something that a believer can read and not be disgusted at. Hopefully, over time, more pointed appeals to the sufficiency of Christ and His saving grace can be made. It's all part of the ongoing spiritual warfare that we all participate in. But in a cloak and dagger sort of way.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rejection Machine

Like the Doomsday Machine in Star Trek, I am continuing through the submissions to Rage of the Behemoth. This morning's rejection started out with great potential. (Hint for all submitters: Blood in the first line is a winner!) There was death and carnage quickly. There was a sympathetic protagonist with a clear goal of survival ahead of him. But then things veered off track and it became apparent that the author did not have the experience necessary to craft the tale, i.e. the writing felt shallow and undeveloped. Maybe I'm saying this because I turned 40 last month but an author needs to have some worldly experience to be a successful writer. Take this Paolini kid who wrote Eragon. It is clear from the writing that he didn't know much about how real people think and interact with each other. I understand that the other books are better but his debut read exactly like what it was, a big novel written by a fifteen year old. This is why I say that there must be some emotional connection with the protagonist. Unless it's there you have nothing more than a collection of happenings strung together. You might follow all the conventional structures of storytelling but you'd still end up with something unsatisfying. So while this morning's story showed some promise and I'm sure the author will improve over time, it just wasn't there yet.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Some Other Things About Freedom Fest

Two other great performances were put on by Sherwood and KJ-52. All bands have a list of things they'd like to have provided to them by the concert promoters and this festival is no different. Most bands ask for things like a case of bottled water, a favorite snack, and various things like that. Sherwood asked for a live goat to be on stage during their introduction. They have a quirky sense of humor and they know that no concert staff is ever going to fulfill that request. Oh, but they've never been to rural Western Washington before. Sure enough, the MC brought a goat up on stage and told the story of how the band didn't think they'd get it. But, 1) the Freedom Fest staff is the best in the world and 2) the festival is held in one of the fields of Stocker Farms in Snohomish. Shoot, there were goats just a couple of pastures over. Now, with a very different kind of music, KJ-52 (Kay Jay Five Two) put on a tremendous show. He is energetic and funny and really gets the crowd involved. He does a trip through the decades starting with the 70's and encourages all parents, usually sitting further back in lawn chairs, to get up and dance to a disco beat in order to embarrass their children. I did not dance. Luckily for me, I was ten when disco was popular and that fad passed right by me. (I did have a Members Only jacket in the 80's but that's not relevant right now.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Freedom Fest

This weekend was a relaxing and satisfying one. The family and I attended Freedom Fest in Snohomish, Washington, and camped there all starting Thursday night. It was a bit too hot in the afternoons (darn global warming) but things evened out and became too cold on Sunday night. The crowd was a bit lighter than in previous years but we had a great time and got to see one of my favorite bands, Esterlyn. These guys continue to impress me and they are producing some incredible music. Luke Caldwell, their founder and front man, is a worship driven man of Christ and is solidly grounded in the Word. Their message is clear and unpretentious; we all exist to glorify the Lord. So do I, so do you. I strongly recommend their latest CD, Lamps, (which they autographed for me) and anyone who is into contemporary Christian music will enjoy it. You can also get their previous CD from when they were a band called Grand Prize for dirt cheap off amazon. You will not be sorry.

Monday, August 11, 2008

High Drama on the World Stage

So I'm watching the Olympics last night, which is something I try to do for a few hours every couple of years or so. (Hey, what's up with the four years between each Olympic Games? If Americans ran the show they would be a weekly series with taunting sessions like WWE Smackdown.) Two things were very impressive. 1) The American men's swimming team coming from behind to win the 400m relay. 2) The Chinese women's synchronized diving team absolutely crushing their opponents (even the announcer said 'all they have to do is hit the water on this last dive to win the gold) and showing their countrymen that individual achievement is a great thing.

But the really interesting thing was that we were watching on a Canadian channel. After a while I noticed that the Canadian angle to the Games was a little different. The daily round-up of events and qualification trials showed every Canadian who didn't qualify, came in 29th in some such event, or otherwise failed to make a good showing. The highlight of the day was the men's swim team coming in 6th in the finals. After noticing this I came up with a new tag line for the Canadian athletes: Canadian Olympics, A Study in Mediocrity.

But anyone who knows Canadians knows that this is not really much of an insult. They tend to like their sedate, non-Superpower status. I think their national motto is something like "Don't bother us and we won't bother you." (I could be misquoting that.) Don't get me wrong, I love Canada. I still remember they rescued some of our hostages from Iran thirty years ago. But it's the kind of love a jockhead big brother feels for his toddler little brother who keeps getting stuck climbing the tree in the backyard. Maybe one day that will be an Olympic sport.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Writing Lessons From the Soulless

This afternoon I read an interesting submission to Rage of the Behemoth. I recommended rejection because, in short, the story lacked soul. This is an odd thing to try and capture but you know it when it's not there. The words were all correct and they formed proper sentences which were strung together in perfectly grammatical paragraphs but the overall effect was... blah. Blah is not what you're shooting for in fiction (unless you're writing chick lit) and it especially has no place in heroic fantasy. I read the whole story and kept wondering when something was going to happen in a way that made me say 'wow.' Wow is what you're shooting for in heroic fantasy. In my comments to the editor I said the story was 'correct, but not good.' It was a strange thing that I don't think I've really seen like this before. Usually if a story lacks excitement and emotional connection with the characters there is almost always several other things wrong with it as well. This story had correct structure and proper pacing with an interesting setting and plot... but no soul.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Unstoppable Triond Cash Generation Machine

My series on Life Lessons From the Marines keeps racking up the earnings. In just thirteen short months I have generated over four dollars in pure profit. Everyone should read and re-read these pearls of wisdom that can be found on the sidebar to the right. Please. My kids need braces and college and such.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Week in Review

Ever have one of those weeks where absolutely nothing of importance happens to you? I just did.