Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor

Two friends face the Dark Knight’s deadliest scheme, but only one knight has the courage to overcome.

Sir Quinlan leaves his boyhood friend to serve the Prince, fighting a battle darker and more intense than any he’s ever known. The mysterious Sir Baylor recruits him into the ranks of an elite unit of knights known as the Swords of Valor, but when tragedy strikes and everyone blames Quinlan, the Swords of Valor disband, ending a legacy of heroic deeds.

Alone and despairing, Quinlan wanders the kingdom, fleeing his past. His providential encounter with Taras, a mysterious Silent Warrior and former trainer of Valor Knights, offers Quinlan a chance to redeem himself and learn the ways of the secret warriors.

The training is grueling, and just when Quinlan seems to have left his failures behind, he receives an impossible challenge from the Prince—one that will force him to face his past…and the mighty men who blame him for the tragedy that ruined them.

Can Quinlan reunite the Valor Knights in time to save the people from the Dark Knight’s evil plot to rule the Kingdom of Arrethtrae, or will the Valor Knights lose the most important battle of all? (description from

I came to Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor rather hesitant. I had read some of his novels before, the Kingdom series. While I had enjoyed them, the writing had always been dry and a little boring.

However, this book was different. Evidently Chuck Black's writing has improved, or some other factor had strengthened his novels. I was easily able to imagine the settings and places, and the tale was entertaining while it brought a great message as well. The characters were well developed and fleshed out--especially for such a short book. (Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor falls just short of two hundred pages.)

There were two things that impressed me about this novel. First, considering the length, this book was very complete. Usually when I read books like this, I feel like there could have been more plot. But the plot is wonderfully complete and circular. Second, the allegory was more veiled than it had been in the Kingdom series. The allegory itself entertained, while it had a hidden meaning behind it.

The overall message of the book was excellent. I can relate to feelings of complacency and apathy.

Unfortunately, there were several cons to this book as well.

While the first chapter kept my attention, the author dropped the backstory bomb in the first two pages of the second chapter. He explained at length the backstory of several different things, and completely jerked me out of the story. Not a good thing. Fortunately I kept reading, and the tale turned out to be quite good.

I also felt like the creature in the middle of the book (I won't name it and thus avoid a spoiler) was a bit overdone. When it turned out the way I did, I grimaced and thought to myself, "Wow...cliche." This doesn't really effect the entire plot of the book though.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone. The ending alone is worth the entire journey--it made me shiver. Great job, Mr. Black! Now, the question is--are you living your life to the fullest it can be for the real Prince?

Rated 8.9 out of 10. Highly recommended. :)

(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.)

EDIT: Wait, wait, don't go yet!  Could you please rank my review?  Pretty please?  With pie?  Thanks. ;)  Here's the link: My Review.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Years' Resolutions?

I'm not much of a guy for New Years' Resolutions. You know--that time of year when all of America resolve themselves to do something and end up never doing? The time of year when everyone resolves to go to the YMCA more often? (What's with that, anyway?) The wintry season when everyone promises themselves they will reform or expand on one thing or another--and fail?

Well, New Years' resolutions never really appealed to me. Resolving things gets you nowhere, after all--you have to actually do something about the resolution. But perhaps, this year, I'd thought I'd set some goals for 2011. Aye, resolutions--don't look at me like that. Despite my previous paragraph of dry comments regarding the failure of most resolutions, this is something I am fairly sure I can do. Really. Hear me out.

I'll lay it out in points. If you've followed me long enough, you might have discovered my deep affection for lists. Bullet points, more or less. It makes me feel more organized. ;) But it isn't a bad way to go.

1) I am going to finish revising the Book of Shaldu

No brainer. I've already tried to 'resolve' myself to finish it before 2011, but it didn't work out. But this is actually a harder goal to achieve than you might have thought. You see, I recieved a mysterious package in the mail the other day. Twas 'The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction', one of the greatest books on writing ever written. And I've read almost half of it. It has absolutely blown me away with superb writing advice...and my own vices. The Book of Shaldu needs a lot more revision than I thought, particularly in the Character Development department. Like one endorsement said--"He's so full of good writing advice that you just want to beat him up." There! Resolution one is done. >_>

2) I am going to write the second book in The Prophecies of Shaldu series and lay out the rest of the series

Okay, a little harder goal. Let's be honest--tis a lot harder. (For those of you who are clueless, the Book of Shaldu is the first book in the Prophecies of Shaldu series, and is not affiliated with my Sadaar Trilogy.) Writing an entire book in a year--aye, it's doable. After all, there's a NaNoWriMo for 2011 as well. But laying out the entire series as well as revising the Book of Shaldu--it's going to be pretty tough, especially for me (being a SOP writer). I'm not much of an outliner--the entire reason for my outlining the series is because of the possibility of publishing. If I were to try and publish the Book of Shaldu, I would probably need the entire series planned out. So that is that--resolution two.

3) I am going to try and write a novel in a way I've never written before

No one but I knows about this little novel idea hiding in my documents. It all started when I read an interview with Jacob Parker on Noah's blog. Long story short, it inspired me to write in a way I have never written before. So I have a scene written out. I have no idea who the character is. Or where he is going. Or why. Or even where he is. But I'm going to try, sometime in the next year, to write a novel based on that scene and my goals for that novel. And it's going to be one novel, with no sequels. <_< So hopefully I shall write it out sometime in 2011.

4) is a secret

Sorry readers, but resolution four is a secret. Secretly sneaky secrets. <_< I cannot tell you what it is for fear of word getting out of--wait! Do ye hear anything? *glances around and puts his hand on the handle of his sword* There! *dives off of the page and buries himself in the archives, black cloak flying*

*peeks out* See you next time. I have to stay low for a while. ;) While you're waiting--what writerly-relating resolutions (what an interesting phrase!) are you planning for 2011?

Signed in secret....

Monday, December 20, 2010

Revision, Part II

Yesterday I reverently put on my silvery cape of revision (soft to the touch!) and began my revision of The Book of Shaldu.  (I am a firm believer in strange writing habits.)

I had revised two or three sections--small sections--and was feeling pretty good about myself and my revision when I came to chapter nine.

Dun dun dunnnn.

Take a look at the picture.  Chapter Nine has a particularly tricky scenario--my characters were in a blocked-up Refuge underground, and I rescued them by pushing the Easy Button.  Instant save.  My characters got out by someone digging them up.

Way too easy.  Hey, that's why its called the Easy Button!  I pushed it so I could get to the other side of this brick wall I had, to smooth sailing, sunny skies.  I didn't have time to think up a clever scenario--it was NaNoWriMo, and the heat was on.

So now revision is threatening me.  "You push that Easy button again and I'll feed you to Frank," it says.  Revision is urging me to revise the situation, to beat back the brick wall--while the easy button is sitting pretty smack in the middle.  Procrastination, as you can see, is chuckling evilly on the other side of the brick wall.  "I've got him this time!"

Anyone else want to smack Procrastination?

But procrastination is winning.  You can't just beat back a brick wall--I'm clueless for ideas on how to revise this situation.  Procrastination is knocking on one end, while Revision is threatening me from behind.  What do I do?

Well, first off, I have to be stubborn.  There's no way this thing is going to budge--and so, armed with the Sword of Stubbornness, I'm racking my brains for answers.  But none are coming.

Okay, so the whole purpose of that disturbing illustration and its accompanying post is this: do YOU have any ideas?  Any way you can help me out?  I promise to write a post about this once I'm done! ;)  Honest!

To quote the illustrious Aragorn (aye, LOTR seems to pop up all of the time these days),

"What say you?"

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Revision.  The very word strikes fear into the hearts of men and Elves alike.

What with NaNoWriMo finished, all the writers seem to be staring at their finished novel and asking themselves, "How in the world am I going to turn this piece of junk I've written into a novel?"  And then...procrastination sets in, and they shut down their computer and go to grab some egg nog.

As much as I'd like to be, I'm just like the other writers. I have a deadly fear of the ferocious thing known as revision, that thing that slays creativity in its tracks and promotes procrastination.  But is the deadly sword of revision really all that bad?  Or can it be turned against procrastination?

Another problem is this: I have actually never fully revised one of my novels.  This is because of two reasons.  1) I tend to go and start other projects.  Sorry folks.  Simple as that. ;)  Sure, I have four novels to my name, but none of them are fully revised.  2) And second, there is so much to revise.  The sheer number of mistakes and plot problems that needed correcting on my first novel overwhelmed me.  And permanent procrastination killed further effort.

I'm determined that things will be different with The Book of Shaldu, though.  I am not going to fail--not this time.  This novel's going to be published--or bust.  No egg nog!  Grab the pen.  Let's go.

Now, there are several things that I focus on when revising my novels.  Things that work. :)  I usually do them in the order I array them.

1) Read!

Read read read.  I read my novel so many times I practically memorize it.  I could probably quote the first paragraph of my prologue in Quest for the Kingdom from memory, I've read it so many times.  With The Book of Shaldu, I've converted it to Kindle format and downloaded it onto my Kindle.  More on that later--I have pictures. ;)  But right now--rather ironic, isn't it?--I'm reading my own novel on my Kindle and putting notes wherever I notice mistakes or places that need to be revised.

But you'll find that revision comes easily when you read your novel.  You'll see a mistake as you read and fix it.  An unnatural conversation.  A lacking description.  And then you edit, you revise.  It's easy to spot mistakes when you read your novel.

2) Individual Revision

I like to focus on individual places where I need to seriously revise, places I found when reading.  Sometimes the plot needs to be fixed.  This helps narrow down your focus and help you write a bit better--because, honestly, would you rather revise a chapter or an entire novel?  Focusing one chapter at a time helps keep procrastination at bay.  And sometimes you find sections where the wording just isn't 'right'.  Sure, it might be grammatically correct, but sometimes you just have to revise because you need to fix the wording of things.  I do this all of the time, and it makes the piece flow better as a whole.

3) Expansion

Sometimes I just need to expand.  A piece written in a hurry may not have the necessary description or I haven't spend enough time on it for it to flow well and long enough.  I especially focus on journeys--they are extremely hard to write when doing NaNoWriMo, but I try to take the time and majorly expand on them in the later stages of the novel.  After all, not all journeys are composed of teleports, and while teleporting from place to place when writing a novel is useful, it is sometimes necessary to give a feeling of time.

4) The Last Gloss-over

This is one stage that I have never quite gotten to, but one that I know will happen eventually.  Basically, all major editing is done.  I'm satisfied with the plot.  Contradictions are taken care of--and the story flows well.  But there's still those little things that give the story a raw feel.  So, when I get to that stage ;) I'm going to repeat the first step and read read read my novel until I am satisfied it is ready to be sent to a publisher. :)

What Jake has learned of revision in a nutshell, readers.  But I still need more help!  I have enlisted the assistance of a certain book on writing Christian fiction, but I have yet to recieve it, so, in the meantime, would you mind sharing your wisdom? :)

Over and away,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review: The Charlatan's Boy

(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.)

The first thing I thought of when I received this book with trembling fingers was this: the feechies are back.

The Wilderking Trilogy, Rogers' first trilogy set in Corenwald was delightful. And the feechies were pure genius--so naturally I wondered if the Charlatan's Boy would measure up.

The Charlatan's Boy is the tale of Grady. He's been paraded as a feechie, the world's ugliest boy, a phrenologist, and more. But in his heart, he wonders who he really is. Is he a charlatan like Floyd? A villager? Or is he just an ugly boy whose mother threw him away?

This book had an unmistakable southern twang to it, something I really liked. I'm a fan of Mark Twain, and I have to admit this book sounds a lot like a fantastical version of one of Twain's novel. It was a little more apparent in this novel than in Rogers' first novel, The Bark of the Bog Owl.

However, I felt like this story could have--perhaps should have--been longer. I liked Grady, but the adventure, wild side of the story--which was always so apparent in Rogers' other books--was more hidden, and didn't emerge completely until the end of the book.

Altogether, though, I really enjoyed this book. I almost wish I could put the ending on this review--it was a marvelous message, and the ending alone would bump a star up to four. I will definitely read the next book in this series.

Can you hear the bark of the bog owl through the pages of this book? I can. Bravo.

Rated 8.2 out of 10.

Please do me a favor and rank my review, will you?  Thanks!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Socks of NaNoWriMo! The New Tradition for Epic Elves

Well, it's that time of the year where a new tradition has been birthed among the fires of triumphant victory--and, being a fire, it has spread accordingly.

For those of ye who either cannot understand or do not bother understanding (or know what I am speaking of already) there is a new tradition in the blogosphere regarding NaNoWriMo.

It started with Millard.  He, stepping beyond the bonds of humanity and taking upon himself the role of true epicness, wrote the bold words 'NaNoWriMo'...upon his socks. Putting a picture on his blog, he unknowningly started a chain of events that would spread far and wide...sort of.

Whisper did likewise, having finished NaNoWriMo as well, and wrote NaNoWriMo on her socks.  She was inspired and encouraged by Millard.  But she did something different--she videoed it.

The Director, stepping into the role as an Elf of the Underground, wrote NaNoWriMo on her/his (suddenly I am confused in matter of gender...deja vu, tis Storyteller all over again) socks...multicolored.  Aye.  :|

And now I am following in their footsteps.  I have written NaNoWriMo on my socks--it's the new tradition.  Epic.

I am never going to wear those socks ever again. ;)  Observe--I sealed them in a bag and labeled it accordingly.

(Aye, that is my shadow ye percieve)

I was going to upload a video--I have it here on my computer--but the blasted Blogger program is prohibiting me from doing this.  "An error has occurred" blah blah blah... ;)  I'll try to get it to ye, one way or another... *stubborn gleam in eye*  Ah, this is going to be a long struggle between Computer and Man.  *gives the Blogger program a smack on the head with a random hard object*

*Bwahahaha*  Ah, that was epic. :)  Now ye know what my hand looks like...and my feet and socks. :O  Hope ye enjoyed this little post of mine!  I plan to do this next year. :D

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Word War III Winner ;) At Last

*sheepish smile*  Okay, I admit it...I forgot.  No excuses. ;)   So, to remedy my dis..un...something, I shall do the post now. :)

Now, do you know who the winner is?  DO YOU?!  (actually, all the participants in the Word War already know who the winner is ;)  Perhaps it should be phrased as this...Do you, reader-who-has-not-participated-in-the-word-war, know who the winner is?! ;)

I might as well tell you, but ye have to build up suspense, aye?

So the winner is...



is he?..... [hint one ;)]


he wrote 5582 words!... [hint two!]




Uh, TAK (theallebianknight) won! ;)  Congrats TAK!  Feel free to grab this image (\|/ down there) to put on your blog. :)

As before, I have edited the picture accordingly--so it says beneath is 'Teenage Writer Word War III Winner'.  Congrats!  :D  And the rest of swiping the picture.  Tis intended for TAK only. ;)