The Dark Crystal Author Quest e-book is finally available through amazon. :-)
If you're a fan of The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson, or Penguin Books, please pick up a copy. There are five very good stories within it that are worth your time and money. This might sound like a shameless plug for my own work, but it isn't because all of the stories were very fun to read and fit very well in the Dark Crystal universe. If you like the Dark Crystal, you'll like this e-book.
I picked up the book the first day it was available, June 24th, and I'm very honored to be included with so many good authors. I must admit, though, I'm not as confident about potentially winning the contest after reading the other stories. I think I have as good a chance as anyone, but I think the Jim Henson company has their work judging cut out for them. I'm still praying to win it. Every one of the featured authors, myself included, has something different to offer in their interpretation of the universe, and all of us have different strengths and weaknesses as writers. I think what it really comes down to is what type of story the Jim Henson company wants, and it isn't a bad reflection on any of us as writers if we lose.
When I first became one of the five finalists, that I was looking at the other four finalists as competition, and I didn't like myself for it. I try not to be the type of person to be jealous or bitter. I can be a sore loser on small things, like video games, but on bigger things I don't tend to be that way. For some reason, this time I started to feel really competitive, and I didn't like the feeling.
Long story short, I decided that wasn't who I was, and I started looking at the other finalists as people, and colleagues. We're all in this book together, and we all want the same thing, so why not make this a friendly competition? We all have at least one thing in common, other than this book as well--we're all writers. I've already reached out to one of the finalists and I think we've become pretty good pen pal type friends. I'll probably reach out to the others as well at some point in the very near future. If they don't want to be "friend friends" that's fine, but I feel like wishing everyone "good luck." I still want to win, but I am hoping that whoever is chosen is the best person for the job. Depending on what Jim Henson's would want, I may or may not be that person. I think that I can be.
Anyway, I rambled on about this for too long. Time to review the book. (To those who have seen the movie "The Dark Crystal" there are no spoilers in this review...if you haven't perhaps you should wait and watch the movie or read the book first.)
Vinni Chiappini "The Gelfling Guardian" - This story features a Gelfling of the Spriton Clan who works as a guard of the Castle of the Crystal. He looks to the Skeksis with respect and admiration until he finds out that they might be responsible for the disappearances of Gelfling and Podlings all over Thra. He has to decide between his loyalty to them, or his loyalty to his people and search for the truth. I think the strongest element of this story is that the Podlings were portrayed as a very sympathetic, intelligent race, which is important since they are the first victims of the crystal. It makes the sacrifice of the Podlings a very real problem.
Greg Coles "Rebels of the Dark Crystal" - The main character of this story is a Harath (Woodland) Clan Gelfling who is crippled and working as a blacksmith in the woods. His friend, a soldier of the Crystal Castle, stumbles into his forge one evening in shambles, and accidentally dreamfasts with him. Through the dreamfasting, he learns that the soldier discovered a terrible secret kept by the Skeksis that puts him in terrible danger as well. One of the strengths of Coles' story is that it's written in first person, so it pulls the reader in and makes the main character very sympathetic. Also, since the main character is disabled, it makes his struggle particularly poignant.
Nancy Gray "Chosen" - Sorry, I'm not reviewing my own story, that would be silly. Please, read it and tell me what you think. It's about a Gelfling of the Sifa Clan that is chased by a waterspout onto a deserted island. While there, he and his friend find an abandoned cabin containing a journal with information about the Skeksis that puts them and their families in danger.
J. M. Lee "Shadows of the Dark Crystal" - This story is about a Gelfling girl from the Drenchen Clan who goes to find her cousin, a guard at the Castle of Crystal, and finds more than she expected. She and her Father are attacked by a huge nebrie that has been driven mad by the crystal's darkened light. She must travel alone to find Aughra to tell her what happened and for advice. Lee's descriptions of setting are eloquent and beautiful, painting the images into the mind's eye. His characters are also likable and the creatures are interesting, especially the Gelfling girl's pet.
Esther Palmer "Music of the Shards" - A young Gelfling girl from the Vapra Clan is playing just outside of her village when the child she's playing with is killed by a Skeksis, "The Hunter." She finds out that her Grandmother is the keeper of a journal from a soldier from the Castle of Crystal. She tells Esther to go to Aughra with the journal to find out what to do, but it seems her journey is far from over. Palmer has a way with words and some very vivid imagery, especially in darker scenes.
That's about it for the review. As I've said, I don't envy the judges for having to choose between so many good stories. I hope that I win, but right now I just feel honored to be among this very talented group of finalists. Please, consider buying this book. You won't regret it.
Keep reading and writing, and never give up.