Monday, January 18, 2010

Back in Business...

Well, I've finally gotten officially back into my writing work. Today I sent two more agent letters to the agencies that I sent the epic tome to last year. I have a much better feeling about it this time. Now that the novel is a manageable length, I think that I'll at least get a few more hits and hopefully this time some form of feedback. Wish me luck.

I'm also feeling like writing again after what feels like months of having writer's block. I've picked up one of my old novels and am in the process of finishing it. Oddly, this novel is older than "Eternity Game," but takes place in the future time line of my novel series set in Cimmerian City. It's a story about a group of teenagers with psychic powers (pyrokinesis, telekinesis, aura reading, etc.) who are tricked into becoming runners for a corporation. While they're training they come across some of the corporation's dirty secrets and are forced to choose between loyalty to the company or the desire to bring it to justice. It concludes with a fight between the entity the corporation accidentally unleashed, the crazed teachers that were training the children, and the children themselves. I'm pleased with my progress so far and I think I should be done within three months at the longest.

As far as new years resolutions go, I think I'm off to a pretty good start. I'm back to exercising nearly an hour each day again and eating healthier foods, I've only missed one Sunday of church (totally by accident), and I'm working on completing this novel and sending agent letters. I did sleep in this morning, but that wasn't entirely my fault, and for the most part I'm sticking to the "staying up in the morning" resolution very well.

Well, I'm off to send more agent letters and to write a time-line of the final scene of "Extraordinary" (the mind power story). Wish me luck and please be praying for me!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ted Dekker

Well, as promised, I'm going to write a review of Ted Dekker's work. This review won't be as detailed as some of my others, mostly because it's been a few months since I read the first books of his series so it isn't all fresh in my mind, and also I don't want to spoil too much.

Let me first say, that Ted Dekker is a Christian writer. Still, as far as I'm concerned, he could be a modern day C. S. Lewis. His work manages to be entertaining and interesting while exploring the Christian themes of good verses evil, and love and sacrifice. I know some Christian writers lose the story in making a point, but Dekker manages to make you feel the point through the art of the story. One of the things I like most about Ted Dekker's work is that it all weaves together flawlessly, like a tapestry of prose that isn't complete without each book. Some of the books can stand alone, but this is one series that I think gets better as you read more of the books.

The first series that I read by Ted Dekker was the Circle series. The books in this series are "Black", "Red", and "White", but he just added another called "Green" that I'm reading now, turning the trilogy into four books instead of three. This series is also the one I recommend reading first. The Circle series is basically about a man named Thomas Hunter who finds that when he sleeps he awakens in a totally different world. The world is a place filled with innocence and wonder, contrasted only by a very visible corruption, in essence, it consists of a green forest filled with the human residents and gentle bat-like creatures and a black forest filled with evil black bats. In this world Thomas marries, learns to fight, and becomes a leader, but it isn't to last since the forest becomes corrupted by the evil surrounding it, from the choice of one man. The forest then becomes mostly desert. Meanwhile, in the world that Thomas is originally from (our world about a few decades into the future), a deadly virus threatens to kill off the human race. Only the knowledge that Thomas obtained in the Books of History from his dream world holds the key to the world's salvation.

The next series takes place in the "dream world" in between events. This is "The Lost Books" series, containing four books, "Chosen," "Infidel", "Renegade," and "Chaos." In this series, a group of young warriors from Thomas' village must go to our world to find the seven lost Books of History before they can be used by evil forces to cause havoc on both worlds. The Books of History are crucial to all of the stories. The Books are magical and can control the fate of the world. They possess forbidden knowledge, and anything written within them can become reality if someone believes it can.

Which, brings me to the series I read most recently, "The Books of History Chronicles." This series takes place in our world, following the tragic undoing of the little town of "Paradise" in Nevada.

In "Showdown," There's a secret project called, "Project Showdown" that took thirty seven orphans to be cared for in a monastery, trying to produce a child that was a "noble savage." The project goes horribly wrong, and one of the children, Billy, finds the Books of History, managing to cause a LOT of damage. He and his friends gained tremendous power from the books, but eventually his enemies, "Johnny" and "Samuel" gain tremendous power too. The book's climax is a battle for the town of Paradise between Billy, his girlfriend Darcy, the character Billy created, "Marsuvee's Black" and Johnny and Samuel.

The book "Saint" follows the story of the one child who did do the right thing for Paradise, Johnny. His life takes a strange course where he becomes a powerful assassin. In the end, he must make a choice between right and wrong that could be his undoing, and could change the fate of the world. He also must regain his memories of "Project Showdown" and the other events of his past.

Later in "Sinner," the powers that Billy and Darcy gained from the books would give them government influence. Billy has the ability to read minds, and Darcy has the ability to persuade almost anyone to her opinion. They convince lawmakers to start a new rule that could be the undoing of organized religion in the world, called "The Tolerance Act." And, once again, Johnny and Samuel must make a stand for what they believe in. The book ends in a second showdown between Billy and Darcy, and Johnny and Samuel, and they all are forced to face off with a nightmare from their pasts when Marsuvees Black returns.

There has been a great deal of discussion about which novels of "The Books of History Chronicles" to read first. Dekker recommends to read them out of order, but I found that to be slightly confusing. I suggest reading them in the order listed, "Showdown", "Saint", and then "Sinner." Or, "Showdown," "Sinner," then "Saint." "Saint" is the only one that doesn't really affect the order since it's basically what happens to the child "Johnny" while he's growing up and doesn't have as much bearing on the events of "Showdown" and "Saint."

I just like reading things in order so that my questions about the past are already answered, but that is my personal opinion. Also, of the three, "Showdown" was my favorite since it had the magical feeling that the Circle series gave me, where anything seemed possible but the main character had to still overcome nearly impossible odds. This series is also a bit more preachy than the others, but it does have a good message that is important, about how the government could effect free speech when it comes to religion and the ways in which it already has.

I recommend this series to anyone who even remotely enjoys Christian fiction. It's very good and you'll be hooked right away. The books tie into each other so intricately, it would take me much too long to explain on this blog, but trust me, you'll be impressed. I hope you liked this review, sorry it was so long, but there are eleven books in this series so far, and I wanted to give you at least a feel for all of them.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I went to see the movie Daybreakers with my friends tonight. I was interested in this movie because it depicts vampires in a cyberpunk setting, granted not really late future only about ten years from now, but late enough to have corporations holding a great deal of sway and for there to be futuristic cars, etc. Since this is a very similar setting to my novels, I had high hopes for this movie.

The technology and setting was believable, with believable advances in technology for a time period not too distantly away from our own. The premise is that vampires have overpopulated the earth and now are running out of blood. There was a great deal of gratuitous blood and violence (this is a plus, since it is a vampire movie). There was also a good bit of emo subplots, where the main character doesn't drink human blood because of sympathy for the humans. There was also some subtle humor, and interesting topics explored, such as vampire animals, and liberal and conservative vampire parties trying to figure out the fate of the remaining humans. I thought the concept was interesting and it was definitely worth watching, but there were about four major problems I had with the movie.

Problem number one, when the vampire virus began people were changing into vampires because of the desire for immortality, by accident, etc., and anyone could be changed. Yes, many people would desire the change, but not all people. It just seems to me, if the population was becoming more vampire than human, someone would've regulated the spread of the disease by making laws so that people not to spread it anymore, possibly even killing off those that would continue to spread the disease. Vampires at this point are running everything and, knowing that they need a food supply, they would probably stop allowing people to spread the disease to just anyone. (Hence games like "Vampire the Masquerade" and other books that say that vampires that have their own societies are very elitist when it comes to who they change.) Vampires, being human-like, would know better than to hunt their only food source to the point of extinction. This would also be foolish since vampires can't breed.

Problem number two, the human farming in the movie wasn't very believable. The people are comatose in this matrix-like setting and it looks like they're being practically drained dry. This is bad science because the people wouldn't survive having that much blood drained away from them. It also looked like a pretty expensive set up, and if anything, corporations don't waste money. For some reason, they also haven't been able to come up with a blood substitute that they can drink. This makes no sense since we can clone blood now. Cloned blood is no different from regular blood, so by using bone marrow, vampires could technically clone blood to drink (but for whatever reason, in this movie they couldn't.) Also, it doesn't make sense for them to farm blood in this fashion. It doesn't allow the humans to mate and produce more humans for them to feed on. It also makes them into useless lumps of flesh. It seems to me, if humans were second class citizens in a vampire society, they would probably be treated sort of like immigrants to this country in the nineteen twenties (before unions), forced to work for a company as grunts, or literally farm, use a company store, and donate blood once a week. This would be more efficient, more cost effective, and better common sense. (This would also be bad for the humans, but at least they wouldn't be vegetative blood banks...)

Problem number three, in this movie, a group of humans and rogue vampires find a cure for vampirism. Instead of embracing this idea, the company doesn't seem to want it. For a city facing starvation because of a lack of HUMAN blood, it seems to me that it would be a good idea to create more HUMANS by changing vampires who no longer desire the disease back into humans. These new humans, once being vampires, would also probably be more willing to give blood for their starving brethren. Also, there's another problem going on, where starving vampires are turning into strange bat-like creatures. Their brains are basically rotting away. It also seems the company could use the cure on these creatures and use them for food as well, since instead they were destroying them outright. It's just a waste of resources, something a corporation would understand.

Problem number four, this movie did have an agenda. I hate it when a movie is just a mask for a political agenda, and this movie was definitely against big corporations. I think that's one of the reasons why the corporation acted so foolishly and decided to hunt the humans rather than using them, along with the other points I discussed above. The movie was becoming preachy by the end of it, showing how illogical and evil the corporation was, and how it was corrupted by it's own power. ::sigh:: Anyway, it seems to me that the corporation would've used the cure to further it's grip over the vampire society.

Other than these problems, the movie was good. I didn't like the ending because it leaves a lot of unanswered questions along with a few plot holes, but that isn't really a problem in and of itself, just kind of a letdown. The effects were very good, the action was exciting, and you do feel for most of the characters. I'd say, if you like vampire films, go and see Daybreakers, if nothing more for the cheap thrills of seeing it on the big screen. (They also have a couple of scenes where they use bats to scare you, and it won't quite be the same without the large screen and surround sound.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year's Resolutions...

Happy New Year, everyone!

Sorry I haven't posted in nearly a month, but I decided to take a few weeks off of everything. The second week of December I got sick with a very bad sinus infection that turned into bronchitis, so I slept and didn't do much at all that week (including blogging). And, the last two weeks I decided to make into a true vacation. I didn't write or do much work at all (or any work for that matter). It's just as well, though. I've had writer's block for the last few weeks anyway, so it was kind of nice not thinking about it and playing the video games I got for Christmas.

Still, it's time to get back to the swing of things. I should be blogging once a week as usual. I've already taken down the Christmas decorations and cleaned up the house, and now I'm getting ready to attempt to write again--wish me luck.

Still no word from that agent, so it appears I'll be sending out the next wave of agent letters later in the week, or early next week. I'm going to go ahead and send new letters to the original agents I sent my work to last year. Since I was just getting started, I made the mistake of querying an epic tome of almost two hundred thousand words, not realizing that they would pretty much stop reading the letter after finding out how many words the novel was. Now that I'm sending them the first in a trilogy of much shorter novels, I think I'll have better luck. (And, hopefully, since it's been a year they won't recognize my name.)

I haven't really gotten around to making any New Year's resolutions, so I guess I'll make some right now. By publicly announcing them on this blog, that kind of makes me accountable...

1. I'm going to try to go to church every Sunday (unless I'm sick, or we're out of town, or emergencies, etc.) and to try to pray at least once a day. This is my most important goal, and I need to strive to reach it. I think doing this will help me achieve all of my other goals. "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and all of your plans will succeed." Prov. 16:3 (I know this to be very true, because without His help, I would've have even gotten this far.)

2. I'm going to get at least one agent to read the entire novel before rejecting me (I think this goal is realistic. I have no control over what agent finally decides to represent me or when, but I want at least to have one agency decide to read my work before the year is out. I think if I send enough letters to enough agents, at least one will.)

3. I'm going to get at least halfway finished with a new novel or finish one of the others I was working on before the break. (I have a novel that's almost finished, a spin-off from the vampire trilogy that I've completed, but I just got to the spot where I'm not sure where to go with it, so I might start something fresh to change gears a little while.)

4. I'm going to keep the weight I lost off, and attempt to lose even more this year. I'm also going to start lifting weights to firm up my arms and doing sit ups for my stomach. (What I do now is mostly cardiovascular, and working my legs, I mostly exercise on my exercise bike for nearly an hour each day.)

5. I'm not going to sleep in unless I'm sick. I'm going to get up and stay up when my husband leaves for work everyday so I can make use of the full day ahead of me. (So far I'm doing well on this one.)

I think that's enough for now. Sure, I could add more like, "I'll learn at least one new recipe," or "I'll start painting again," or "I'll start practicing contact juggling again" or "I'll learn to play the piano," but, I like to make goals that I know I can achieve. I never know what the new year will bring so I try not to make lofty goals, and then if I do have spare time, I do whatever I feel like. One day, I do plan to do all of the examples listed, but I think I'm satisfied with my five resolutions for this year.

(I kid you not, this is the kind of strange stuff I do in my spare time--I'll pick up a new skill just to learn it. I can already make balloon animals, I know how to juggle--but contact juggling would be way more impressive and would require a great deal more skill, and I love expanding my cooking recipes.)

Anyway, I'll try to stick to it. Next week, I'll probably write my review of Ted Dekker and his novels as promised. I'm on the last book of "The Books of History Chronicles," so I should have a lot to write about. Talk to you then.