Thursday, December 20, 2012

Some Thoughts, and an Excerpt from TVOG

I haven't been avoiding this blog on purpose.  But when life has you by the neck, it's usually best to get out of the noose before browsing the internet.

That being said, I have almost zero to say; no updates, no pithy posts concerning writing, (alas) no extraordinarily eloquent exhortations.  Right now we're renovating the house in preparation for our move, and that pushes out pretty much everything else—including writing and blogging.

That doesn't include reading, thankfully.  A fellow missionary kid loaned me a omnibus of The Chronicles of Narnia a while ago, and I finished devouring it yesterday.  Ah!  Such goodness!

Aside from those random notes, I figured I'd give you something to chew on over Christmas break.  (More likely than not, this is the last time you'll hear from me in a while!)


An excerpt from the Voice of God!

This scene takes place at the highest point of Myrkvar, at a building called the Seat of God.  Edon, the main character, is coming before the High Presbytery of Myrk for the first time.  (The Presbytery pretty much governs everyone in Myrk and rules from the Seat of God.)

And again, this is woefully unedited and rather choppy.  The description is a bit much and needs to be refined. ^_^  Thoughts on the whole would be appreciated!


A massive arch without doors guarded the front entrance, and into it were carved many symbols that Edon didn't recognize.  The tall walls of the hall fanned out from both sides, pocketed with designs and reliefs, so many of which that Edon didn't see half of them before they had reached the arch. 

On either side of the arch—which was wide enough for three men to pass without touching each other—stood two men. They wore simple white tunics and trousers, and wore a white cap on their heads. They both held smooth, bone-white staffs.

 “Welcome,” one said. “Sentinel Iorkus?”

The Sentinel knelt and touched his forehead to the stone floor before the arch. “I come in the name of God.”

The man inclined his head slightly, and enunciated his words carefully. “Welcome in the most holy Name of God. The Presbytery expects thee, and thy companions.”

“Thank ye.”

The man bowed and gestured inside. Sentinel Iorkus rose and unwound his shoes, motioning for the rest to do likewise. Edon pulled off the straps holding his shoe in place and kicked them off, following Iorkus, who walked reverently beneath the arch.

Edon found himself in what felt like an ancient temple built by supernatural hands. Massive, serrated columns of stone held up the straight curve of the ceiling, which didn't quite come to a point; three quarters of the way, the roof cut off and twilight shone through, a path of silver leading to the end of the hall.

The large stones of the floor were in a checkerboard pattern, alternating a glowing white and an obsidian black, and the pillars likewise alternated between black and white.

When Edon reached the end of this trail of silver, the hall billowed out into a perfect circle with no roof at all. The floor was completely white, with a solitary black star in the center, edged with gold. Around this massive circle there were walls painted with frescoes of the ages; battles and famines and centuries of peace. Some paintings were chipped in age, and some glowed as if they had been painted the day before. Directly in front of Edon, held up on a pedestal of white stone, was a larger-than-life replica of the Sacred Sword, plated in gold and beaten until it gleamed. Beneath it there was an empty throne of white stone draped in purple. The arms of the throne were carved as two roaring lions, and the pedestal holding the Sacred Sword composed the back.

On either side of the throne, smaller seats of a similar make curved symmetrically around the silver-lit circle of the hall. Counting the throne, there were forty-nine seats, seven sevens: twenty-four on either side of the great throne. Upon those seats sat forty-eight men robed in white.

And the eyes of every single man were fixed upon the newcomers.


Yeah, sometimes I go to town on the descriptions, at the cost of writing quality.  But hopefully the image of the silver-lit Seat of God is now as vivid in your mind as it was in mine.

What about you?  Have any awe-inspiring locations in your writings?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Long-Overdue Post

All right, I'm an awful blogger.

I'll be the first to admit it.

I mean, I left you guys out in the cold for almost a month. 

But I swear, I have good reasons.  Life is crazy, particularly when it is in Africa.  Before you roll your eyes at this rote excuse, let me expand.

Not only was I swamped with NaNoWriMo, but we lost our internet for two weeks, are preparing to renovate a house that looks like this, have been hosting a good friend from America for a month, AND I've been repeatedly beaten up by pre-calculus, and everyone but me came down with typhoid.  

My younger sister didn't stop there, however, and got a case of 3+ malaria, which is extremely severe.  Her fever shot up to 105.7 and we had to take her to the hospital.  

Liberian hospitals are a nightmare :P at one point they refused to discharge her even though she was back in good health.

And THAT'S the condensed version of the last 30 days.  It was, unfortunately, a lot worse than this sounds.

But now that my excuses are finished, let's get down to business!  First things first, wrapping up loose ends.  

I finished NaNoWriMo a day early! ^_^

I was overshadowed by my extraordinarily word-count-happy sister, however, who wrote 100,000 words (two novels) in the month of November.  Can you all give her a chorus of YOU'RE COMPLETELY INSANE for me?


The Voice of God still isn't finished, however.  Because my life went even crazier shortly after NaNoWriMo, it's still unfinished and at about 56,000 words.  If I can find the time to write two more chapters, however, the book will be finished.

That being said, I've been hit by 6+ new story ideas in the past month, and I doubt any of them will see the light of day for quite a while.  I still have quite a few things on my plate, though.  Will Vullerman and Tornado C are priorities after the Voice of God is finished, although I plan to take Tornado C at a leisurely pace.

If it sounds hectic, it is.  Hopefully things will settle down soon.

Tomorrow starts my early Christmas break, which is largely due to the fact that I'll be helping with renovations.  We're supposed to move into a new place by the New Year, and it needs a lot of work.  (Prayer would be coveted!)

What about you all?  Finish NaNoWriMo?  If not, never fear!  You've written more than you might have if you hadn't done NaNoWriMo.

All you non-NaNoers, what are you writing now?  Ready for Christmas break?

Fill me in.  I haven't been around for awhile!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Give Thanks": What Does That Actually Mean?

Today is the American Thanksgiving.

For most of you, this means that you're spending time with family and extended family, making turkey and chicken and other Thanksgiving goodies, and preparing to stuff yourself silly (if you haven't already).

For us in Liberia, it means we have a chance to relax and enjoy the company of some other Americans (and their American food).  And yes, I fully plan on stuffing myself silly.

Besides the food, though, Thanksgiving is known for (what else?) "giving thanks".  But what does this look like?  We've heard "give thanks" so often; what does it actually mean?

The sheer number of references to thanksgiving in Scripture is overwhelming.  Here's just a sampling:


Psalms 7:17: "I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High."

Psalms 35:18: "I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you."

Psalms 69:30: "I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving."

Psalms 105:1: "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."

1 Corinthians 1:4: "I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus."

2 Corinthians 9:11: "You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."

Ephesians 5:4: "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving."

Ephesians 5:19-20: "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Philippians 4:6: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Colossians 3:17: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."


They even had entire psalms devoted for one purpose: to give thanks.  To praise God for what He has given us.

Obviously it's important, and obviously we're supposed to do it.

How do we do it?

Recently I've been reading a book by Francis A. Schaeffer called "True Spirituality".  Listen to his notes on giving thanks:


Then we find in Colossians 3:15: "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to that which ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful."  And verse 17: "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."  And again in Colossians 4:2: "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving."

These words about thanksgiving are in one sense hard words.  They are beautiful, but they do not give us any room to move—the "all things" includes all things.

We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."  And this is linked to the next verse, verse 19: "Quench not the Spirit."  Surely one thing is clear.  God says to us: in everything give thanks.

I think we can see all this in its proper perspective if we go back to Romans 1:21: "Because that, when they knew God, the glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasoning, and their foolish heart was darkened."  This is the central point: they were not thankful.  Instead of giving thanks they "became vain in their reasoning and their foolish heart was darkened."  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.  The beginning of mens' rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart.  They did not have proper, thankful hearts—seeing themselves as creatures before the Creator and being bowed not only in their knees, but in their stubborn hearts.  The rebellion is a deliberate refusal to be the creature before the Creator, to the extent of being thankful.

Love must carry with it a "Thank you," not in a superficial or "official" way, but in being thankful and saying in the mind or with the voice, "Thank you" to God.

—"True Spirituality" by Francis A. Schaeffer, pgs. 11-12


Thankgiving, then, is humbling ourselves before the Creator of all and praising Him for what He has been gracious to give us.  And when we're giving thanks, we must be giving thanks in everything.

Why do we give thanks?  Because God deserves the glory.

We are creatures before an almighty God—and yet He has seen fit to give us so many things, even the death of His own Son.  How can we not be grateful?  And that's what Thanksgiving is, and must be—gratefulness and praise flowing from our mouths to the God who has graciously given us all things!

Glorify to God for what He has done this Thanksgiving: for the food, for the company, for the blessings of the past year, and yes, even for the trials of the past year.  We are strong in His presence—but we must enter His presence with a thankful heart.

In everything, give thanks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's the little things in life that often make us happy.

In this case, it's getting your word count after being behind-ish for a week. 

How's it going for you all?  Behind yet?  Usually by this time you're either pretty far behind, pretty far ahead, or cruising right on track.  Which one are you?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Overachievers, Part 2

Hello again.

Evidently my dear sister didn't read my post about how to encourage persons that aren't immortal and overachieving like themselves.  Take a look at these stats.  (And yes, I'm behind; I mean to make up for it this week, since I'm off school.)

Not terrible, right?  Yeah, just wait till you see what's next.

She finished her novel on the fifteenth.  Even worse, she's writing a SECOND NaNoWriMo novel with the same goal of 50k before December 1!

She's crazy.

Sheesh, I'll be happy if I can even make my goal tonight...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In Which Overachievers Are Rebuked (Nicely)

This is my word count.  (It actually isn't that bad.)

This is my sister's word count.

Anyone see the problem?

Yeah.  Seriously, overachievers, the worst way to encourage another NaNoWriMoer is to get wildly ahead. ;)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Night of the Living Writer

No, really, that's the story of my life right now.

Night of the living writer. The “living” part is kind of surprising, seeing as I often feel dead after writing. The majority of my writing is done at night, after all, and while it's fairly quiet and gives me lots of time, it does tend to wear on my energy.

Also, today is national Whale Explosion Day. Search Oregon's Whale Explosion on Google and watch the 1970 video. It kind of helps you when you're brain-dead. (:

And besides this, I really don't have much else to post about, other than I'm still on track with my word count. I hit the big 20k today: my current count is 21,130. Not bad! The story is on track. It's a bit slow right now, but it'll pick up in the next five thousand words or so and then hurtle to the finish line.

To those of you who are behind, take courage! You can do it! If you're really in need of motivation, shoot me an email for a word war. I'm usually available from 10:00 PM GMT to anytime after that. (I'm six hours ahead of CST, and five ahead of EST, if you need a conversion chart. ^_^) My email's on the Contact Me page.

Speaking of word counts, how is yours? Those of you who are doing NaNoWriMo, are you ahead or behind? Those of you who aren't doing NaNoWriMo, what's your current project and how's it coming along?

I think Tornado C's lack of brevity is rubbing off on The Voice of God. My MC is about to be launched into the plot head-first, but I'm already eighty pages into the novel! I'm hoping to wrap it up at 50k or so, but who knows?

One thing's for sure...I won't make last year's mistake. If The Voice of God does get long, I'm going to finish it before moving on to other projects. (:

May the Ninja go with you! Or to quote the Myrkian goodbye, “Fare ye well and God ye bless!” Write like the wind, and may your keyboard burn with speed!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ho, ho, to NaNo I go!

Popping in again, folks, this time with an excerpt. I wrote this bit of dialogue and then laughed myself silly over it. Not because it was funny, but because it was so fun to write.

I was experimenting with new cultures and accents. I borrowed from some British sources for inspiration (not lingo), but for the most part this is original. The names are mostly anything I can think of that sounds different than the rather “Western” fantasy culture I set up in the previous two books.


“I've guests,” Iorkus called back. “If ye go that way, tell the Lieu that I'll be there presently. These ones have been on their feet all this past day and I must get them settled in the quarterhouse.”

“Larky, Ior! Call him that again and he'll string ye entrails from one end of the 'Worg to the other!”

The man spoke so fast and with such animation that Edon had trouble following the conversation. The Myrkians might have spoken a civilized tongue, but their speech was queer.

“Ye take my word to him, or no?”

“I'll take it, Ior, but only if ye join me for a cup of coff and a game of cards later on. I know a corner of the 'Worg that even the Ecclesian can't sposh.”

“I'll take the coff if ye leave the cards,” Iorkus replied.

“I was playing fun with ye, Ior. No cards, then, and I'll get the Lieutenant that message prompt, eh?”

“Many thanks.”

(Note: Iorkus is pronounced “your-kiss” or “your-kuss”. Ior is pronounced “your”.)

How's it going for you all? Holding steady, I hope? Forth the words and count the bluffs!

Or something like that. [insert war cry here]  

What about you lot not doing NaNoWriMo?  Doing any writing, or is school currently digesting you?

Geronimo! Er, I mean, NaNoWriMo!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Energy? What's that?

Isn't this so beautiful and relaxing?

It's our beach.  We're lucky to have a beach, I suppose, and a five minute's walk from our house.  Unfortunately, I didn't take this picture, for two reasons.  

First, because I take awful pictures.

Second, because I was holed up in the house either writing, thinking about writing, procrastinating about writing, or listening to music (in order to brainstorm for writing).


Life resembles my mom's tea bag more than my beach paradise, however.


I need to write 1,500 words tonight in order to squeak by and achieve my goal, much less work ahead.

And I just now remembered that I had a word war scheduled two minutes ago.

Gotta go.

Go and write, people.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

So It Begins

That's it. I've finally started NaNoWriMo. Book Three of the Prophecies is officially underway. After midnight last night, I wrote a flurry of words; my current word count is 1,748, or it was at the time of this writing.  (That's the problem with scheduled posts...)

How's your writing coming, folks? Reached that 1,667 word goal yet? It seems easy, doesn't it? Too easy, in fact. And it is. Believe me, just two hundred words will seem like a million a couple weeks from now. Enjoy the easy going while it lasts. ;)

Oh, and my apologies for not getting it up sooner, but I have written up a rough (and rather long) synopsis for The Voice of God. Feast your eyes upon this, mates!

Everything you know, everything you thought you's all wrong.”

Far beneath the ground, the realm of Myrk stirs for the first time in eras. They've tunneled deep and confined themselves from the rest of the world, but the coming of five strangers is going to change everything.

Edon Silversword is one of those five strangers. Once called the Champion, he discovers in Myrk that Arowdae has been lied to for generations. Combined with the news of his parents' deaths, he struggles to keep his faith. He's found the Prophecy of Einarr, but wracked with a strange illness and grappling with this news, he has to set out on a quest he's barely prepared for. Accompanied only by a Myrkian guide who won't stop talking, and his faithful friend Knerath, Edon must go far to the north, to the fabled Icedelves...and into the unnatural darkness created by the Daske.

In Myrk, his companions—Sirius, Ryni, and Rozan—have to stay behind to convince the pacifist High Presbytery of Myrk to defeat their subterranean enemies and rise up one last time to defend a country they thought they had abandoned. For a new Dreadman has arrived in Arowdae, and with new devices of war from his master, he begins to set in motion a plan to destroy all resistance against him.

At least, that's what they had planned. But when Sirius learns that the Dreadman is not the only new arrival in Arowdae, he faces a terrible decision: to disobey the strict orders of the High Presbytery and risk losing their support, or to set out on a desperate attempt to rescue the man he once called his father.

Meanwhile, in Kr'ark, the disappearance of the Silverswords leaves a gap in leadership. Farion steps in to fill the hole, but the people are growing complacent and he needs an army to fight off the encroaching darkness. With the false king Reine making moves to obtain control over the city, Farion struggles both with the burden of leadership and desperate loneliness.

The darkness is growing, and the faith of all followers of the High Lord is being tested. But there is one last promise held out in the Prophecy of Einarr, and it is the only way Edon Silversword may be able to make sense of the mess and regroup the scattered forces of good.

He holds on to the hope that he is promised: that he is the Witness, and will hear the voice of God.

Thoughts? Synposes of your own? Share away; but don't go reading my blog when you should be writing. Drop down and gimme 2k! ;)

To Start Off NaNoWriMo....Some Writing Advice From Snoopy

Hail and well met, NaNoers!  November has started at last.  I'd give you my word count, but alas, this post is pre-written and scheduled to post at 12:01 A.M. CST on November 1st.  By the time this posts, however, I'll have been in November for five hours already!

To start off NaNoWriMo well, I figured I'd give you something to lift your hearts and bolster your first writing surge of the month.  Presenting...writing advice from Snoopy!

How do you start a novel?  Drag in your heavy, romantic briefcase and get out your typewriters.  Snoopy lets us know how real page-turners start: with the mystery of a fantastic beginning sentence.

Next, he lets us know that real writing is hard work.  And to get to 50,000 words by the end of the month, it's going to take a LOT of hard work.  But we can get through it!

Also, Snoopy says, when presenting the beginning of your incredible work-in-progress to editors, make sure and be open to advice.  An open mind is always a good thing, so take the advice and make your story better.

In this one, Snoopy shows us how to write brilliant description: the strength is in the little details!

We all need editing, and Snoopy is no exception.  Edit as you go, but don't get so caught up in the editing that you stop writing the story!

Snoopy also lets us in on the secret to emotional scenes.  Dialogue is key!

In the next few sections, Snoopy tells us how to react to critique after the story is finished, and what to do when you send in your story to the publishers.

Well, there you have it...the complete guide to writing your NaNoWriMo novel.  (Many thanks to Snoopy for offering to make a guest appearance on my blog.) 

Happy writing, and may the best dwarf win!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pre-NaNoWriMo Rush/Important News

Hey, folks, gonna make this quick. Two things.
1) NaNoWriMo is in four days. I'm just now working on my plot for The Voice of God. *headdesk*
2) I FINISHED THE PROPHECY OF EINARR. In case you didn't know, Book Two of The Prophecies was left unfinished from last year's NaNo; I finished it at midnight last night. It's 61,554 words long, making it my longest novel to-date, and my sixth finished "novel" (although three of those were novellas).
And yeah, that's about it. Is anyone else freaking out over NaNoWriMo?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fighting for Christ-Centered Christian Fiction

(A note to the reader, whether a writer or no: this post is something that's been on my heart for a long time, so I'd appreciate if you read it, and I'd love hearing your thoughts. I may be repeating myself in many ways, but I think it's a message worth repeating.)

I have been struggling with something for a quite a while. For a long time, I've been resolved to present Christian fiction that is clean, and leaves you feeling clean. In many ways, I feel that this resolution is contrary to other Christian fiction books out there. Ted Dekker comes to mind, and Travis Thrasher. As I've said many times (and I'm likely to say it many times more), fiction that is too dark leaves the reader feeling as if they've waded through muck, and it'll take a long scrubbing to get them clean again. Thus, I want to write something that cleans the reader instead of dirtying them.

I've resolved that for myself, yes. But the question is, where is the uncrossable line for any Christian writer? I believe there is one, a line that Christian writers sometimes cross in portraying depravity as too depraved, and failing to equally portray goodness. But many Christian fiction writers seem to think that there is a relativism in reading novels; if a book is “too much” for you it simply means that it's your own tastes that's the problem. Some people can handle more than the others; it's the “weaker faith” thing. What was clean and unclean food in New Testament times is the equivalent of clean and unclean books in modern day....right?

Some time ago I read a book called Avalon Falls by L. B. Graham, who wrote the excellent Christian fantasy saga The Binding of the Blade. I had read the sample (which was compelling) and convinced my sister to buy the Kindle edition, which was only $2.99.

That book once more brought these questions to my mind, not because of how good it was, but because I was surprised at how bad it was. Not in plot or character or anything, no. Stylistically it was fine, even great in spots, and certainly the first ten percent was good enough to get us to buy it.

But the content in the book, and the way it was portrayed, was almost shocking, especially after reading Graham's squeaky-clean Binding of the Blade series. There was cursing, sexual content (albeit addressed from afar, not in POV, and tactfully brief), and the scenes of two gruesome murders that could have used a lot less description. The main character was a non-Christian and the Christian themes of the book were kept at an arm's length.

In short, Graham did what I earlier described as “portraying depravity as too depraved”. In doing this, he also failed to balance it out. The rather poetic theme of the book (Avalon Falls; that is, even holy isles like the mythical Avalon have fallen) was far overshadowed by the grim mountain of human sin that had been built before it.

As I finished the book, I felt that I had wasted my time and sullied my mind. Such content from non-Christians I might have expected; but from a Christian author?

There are many times where I feel like giving up, but what carries me through is the fact that, even though mankind seems hopelessly fallen and that sometimes there doesn't seem to be a single honest person in this entire country, Christ can break through the darkness. Our depravity is expected, because mankind has fallen. But when I find this darkness in a Christian book, what am I supposed to think?

Doubtless it will be said that Avalon Falls, and books like it, are meant for non-Christian audiences. I'm sure the theme of the book may be somewhat evangelistic in that sense. But nevertheless, you do not feed a poisoned man poison. How will someone want the light if all you keep giving them is the assurance of their own darkness?

The weight of Avalon Falls has been weighing on my mind all night long. I deeply respect L. B. Graham for his dedication to his craft and to Christ, and I hope that the two-dollar royalty that he gained from our purchase of his book goes to a good purpose. But nevertheless, I feel that Avalon Falls, and books like it, have missed the mark. Christ has called us to something more.

Like I've said, after reading Avalon Falls, I felt down, almost depressed. As I'm wont to do when I have something on my mind, I wandered around and did nothing in particular for some time. Eventually my wandering led me to my Bible, and as soon as I started reading I felt as if a cloud had lifted from my mind. Here's what I read:

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16)

Even if the Bible never outright says not to write fiction that is too “dark”, and even seems to support the fiction relativists at times, I believe that the more we read the Bible, the brighter the light will shine in our writing. How can we think such thoughts, after all, if we believe that Christ himself will encourage our hearts and strengthen us in every good deed and even in our writing – our words?

Is there to be only light in fiction, then? By no means! Darkness can make the light brighter; but our job is to use that darkness only to enhance the light, not to let it “overwhelm” the light. My own novel deals with difficult subjects, but the difference is that the darkness only exists to glorify the light, just as it does in real life. In books like Avalon Falls, the author made the mistake of letting their own light go dim.

So what are we to do? We need to fight for Christ-centered Christian fiction – and better yet, write it.

The path of the New Testament is not to expose all of the bad deeds of humanity so that we all know how depraved we really are, but to let the light shine so blindingly bright that it not only burns out the bad deeds but allows the good deeds to grow. Christ has given us a righteousness from God, and He has paid with His blood; let us not waste it! May our light shine before men, so that their evil deeds look like straw before the everlasting glory of Christ!

Let it be an example to us, then. We cannot fight fire with fire. Fire consumes, but water may put out the fire, and feed the green things that grow. Words are powerful and precious; we cannot waste them!

Will we allow our words to describe the things that tarnish the mind and weigh down the heart, or will we use them to spur other Christians on toward love and good deeds? Will we not use them to put forth the gift of God – a righteousness apart from the law – to those who desperately need it?

As Christians, we are called to think about all of the things that are good – to hate what is evil, cling to what is good! We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our minds have been renewed in Christ; our spirits are alive in Him – so why would we even think for a moment to write something that lets the darkness be greater than the light?

I charge you, Christian writer: do not waste your words. We have only a short time on this earth, and then we will give an account before God on what we have done on this earth. May we answer well on that day! May we say that we were not ashamed of the Gospel – and that we have done what He has called us to: to glorify His name. Whatever we do, we do it in the name of Christ: let us not dishonor that name above all names!

May glory be to God alone, and may Christ encourage your hearts and strengthen you as you act and as you write!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review: The New Recruit

"Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club.

These guys mean business.
Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration."  (From

Author of the award-winning Blood of Kings trilogy, Jill Williamson returns with a new Marcher Lord Press book: The New Recruit, set in modern day America and Russia.

Marcher Lord Press is a “speculative fiction” publisher, and the speculations of The New Recruit follow two main paths: first, the existence of a “Christian spy” organization, and second, the existence (and, in some cases, fictionalization/dramatization) of the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament.

Both of them together, in one book, made the book sound very intriguing, and I love Jill Williamson's excellent writing style. Still, I was wary after reading her other modern-day novel, Replication, which was so-so and not half as good as the Blood of Kings trilogy.

My fear proved groundless. Just like all Marcher Lord Press books, The New Recruit showed fantastic style, layout, and editing. Allow me to splurge a bit:

By far, my favorite part of the book was the voice of the main character, Spencer, combined with Williamson's incredible writing style. Her style is one of the best I've read – a combination of wry voice, a balance of action and internal monologue, and modern references and comparisons that make the style colorful.

Character-wise, Williamson brings the book to life. Even though Spencer is something of a loose cannon, you learn to like him, and, at least, care for him. He's human, and the way he approaches Christianity was fresh and original. I have rarely read a book that writes a skeptic so well. It's extremely easy to make such characters cheesy, but Williamson pulls it off.

The combination of Williamson's compelling style and plot makes this book a page-turner. I finished it in a day, which is something I rarely do as I get older. Williamson gives us teasing hints about Spencer's background and past – some of which are left unresolved – and gives us mysterious clues about where the plot is headed. The result is that you can hardly put this book down.

Williamson did a good job on theme as well. Like I've said, Spencer the skeptic is written very well, and likewise the “Christian spies” are presented in a way that makes them seem real. Each of these have their own problems, and Arianna especially comes across as a preachy sort of girl, which may be the intent of the author. In the end, though, the thoughts presented were thought-provoking and well worth thinking about.

I had very few problems with this book, although I'm not entirely certain how Biblical some of the contents are. The author herself mentions that the abilities of the characters are “fictional”, which resolves some of those questions, but the author also gives some very helpful verses to look into and compare to the themes addressed in the novel. This provokes the reader to read the Bible for themselves, and that's always a good thing!

The one big issue I had with the book was the way the adolescents interact. I've encountered this problem in all of Williamson's books, particularly in Replication, which soured my taste for the novel.

While Spencer is a non-Christian, Williamson seems to assume that whenever there is a remotely pretty girl in the same room as a remotely handsome male, there will be romantic flirtation. Over the course of the book, Spencer seems to lean toward one girl, and then another, and so on. Again, Spencer is a non-Christian, so I don't expect him to act like one. But even the Christian characters (i.e. Gabe, Nick, Ryan, etc.) have their “eye” on one girl or another. As an adolescent myself, I can say that I don't melt whenever a girl is in the room, like these characters do – and I certainly don't think about them all the time.

The book finished well, however, and left plenty of loose ends open for book two in the Mission League series. I can't wait!

On the whole, The New Recruit is an excellent, original beginning to a new series, combining an absorbing plot with equally interesting characters to create a novel you can't put down.

Rated 9 out of 10. Five stars!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blood on Paper

One writer famously said, “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

While this is not terribly practical advice, it is right in one respect: when you write a book – I mean, when you truly write a book, not when you're typing out escapist fiction – you are writing with your own blood.

In the Old Testament, blood is regarded as something sacred. Blood is, in some ways, the essence of who somebody is. Thus, when sin is paid for, it is paid for in blood; first by the sacrifice of a perfect lamb, and finally by the sacrifice of a perfect God.

And when we write novels, we pour ourselves into these characters. We pour our essence into them; we give our blood. Our blood is written on paper in the form of words. It is only when this happens that our stories really and truly come to life.

Before I started the Prophecies – or even after – I had the vague idea that I would write “something awesome”. Even as late as NaNo 2010 the goal of my writing was, in some ways, to glorify God; but my other objectives was just to make the story as cool as it could be.

It wasn't until I revised The War Horn and started work on Tornado C that I solidified my “writer's creed”: that my first and primary objective was to glorify God, and second to create something that would nourish the reader. In The War Horn, I glimpsed something of what a novel would be like when I had that “creed” as my primary purpose. The story was, and still is, the strongest of my tales in terms of theme. (Tornado C will challenge that position once I get to the climax, but that's a long way off.)

When I started outlining Tornado C, I was at a period of growth. I was learning how to further live with God at the center of my life, and how this plays out in another culture – and in my writing.

I discovered something incredible at that time: that all of my work was as straw if I didn't pour myself (and my beliefs) into them. “Writing what you know” doesn't just mean doing lots of research. It also means that the characters themselves won't have life unless you truly know them. And how will you know them?

I found out that if I put parts of myself into my characters, they took to the page in a way that none of my characters have ever done before.

Into the main character of Tornado C I poured the guilt I had before I had become a Christian, before I had discovered the wondrous theme of justification; into his companion, I put bitterness (which everyone knows to some extent), and the struggle with sin we all have; in another character, I put loneliness and, in some ways, embodied my adaption to a new culture and the differences I have with my own; in all of these, the frustration we have when God doesn't seem to hear when we speak to Him; in The Prophecy of Einarr, I have a character who realizes how dangerous surrender to God may be and the pride that holds them back, which I have taken from my own conversion; and in The Voice of God my main character will struggle with the ever-present question of why God does what He does, and why innocents often suffer more than the wicked.

As a result of this, my writing has come alive in new ways. I have often taken something that I wrestle with in my own life and embody it in the written word. If I write about struggles I have never had, will I help those who have them? Yet if I write about the things of life I know, won't the reader understand it better?

If I read a book about a missionary kid adapting in a new culture, I would deeply emphasize with them and their story. In America, I read about missionaries and their trials; now I understand them so much better. In the same way, if the characters of a novel have the same struggles that other people do, they will come alive to your reader.

Thus, writing what you know becomes pouring yourself into your novel. Bits and pieces of myself are found in all of my characters. Why? Because that is the only way I will truly know them, and know how to write them. My stories become my way of articulating my life and my faith.

So my advice to you is this: don't shirk back from becoming your characters and their stories. Pour yourself into them: your struggles, your faith, your experiences, your life, and your blood. Once your readers see your blood on paper, they'll recognize that the same blood flows in their own veins. And regardless of the number of sales you have or the amount of people that read your book, your readers will connect with your story in a way that they can't with the average penny-dreadful.

And that's a very good thing.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Return to Arowdae: NaNoWriMo and Writing Styles

Now that I've temporarily wrapped up Tornado C and Will Vullerman, I'm finally freed up to focus on The Prophecies again.

The Prophecies is what I would now describe as a prose-ugly saga that will require so much revision that it's not even funny. (That being said, it has some good points, among them being cool names and really fun dialogue.) It is a wild tale, which may be one reason why it's an almost exclusively NaNoWriMo-written series.

After working on the heavily descriptive prose of Tornado C, however, the style of The Prophecies is radically different. Like Tornado C, I tend to focus on dialogue; however, the prose is very sparse and describes just enough to move the story along, a result of my 2k-a-day writing rushes. Thus, the focus of the novel is not on character or theme (although there is some of both in this novel, especially theme) but plot. It's my dabble in plot-first writing, so to speak.

In some ways, this is refreshing. Writing in one style can be boring, in the same way that reading the same style for a number of different books can become tedious. (For instance, Bryan Davis's prose is almost the same in every single one of his fantasy books, his first two novels excluded. It gets old after a while.)

Right now, however, I have to finish last year's NaNoNovel, The Prophecy of Einarr, before I can continue brainstorming for Book Three in the series, The Voice of God. (Unfortunately, once I reached 50k last year, I completely dropped the the middle of a scene.) A couple days back I finished that scene. It was somewhat difficult, since I had to switch my “style glasses”. Imagine what it would be like if I suddenly switched styles mid-book! Yagh! No, sir! So I'm getting used to brief prose and little description again.

Right now, I'm not quite focusing on excellence, like I did with Tornado C – I have to finish the book in less than two weeks, and I have at least four to five sizable chapters left to write. (Don't worry, they're not Tornado C-sized chapters. The Prophecies, also unlike Tornado C, is characterized by fairly short chapters.) Then, I brainstorm!

How are you preparing for NaNoWriMo? Is anyone else trying to tie up loose ends before starting? (Is anyone else starting to panic because they have zero ideas for their NaNoNovel? :P)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Read "The Reality Ring" for FREE!

Today, I at last finished my revisions for “The Reality Ring”, the short story sequel to “In Stasis”. It continues the adventures of Will Vullerman, the elite ASP agent.

And guess what? For those of you who have already finished “In Stasis” (or even those who haven't), I'm repeating the pattern: you blog-followers get to read it...for free!

Here are your mission instructions:

First, you must be a follower or “chronic reader” of this blog at the time of this post to be eligible for a free copy of “The Reality Ring”. That just means that you have to be one of the current 130+ Google followers, or that you're someone who has been reading this blog for a while. (If you're someone who followed my blog after I posted about “In Stasis” but before I published this post, email me and I'll see what I can do to get you both stories.)

Second, I need to receive an email from you in order for you to get your free copy. Send me an email at jtbdude [at] gmail [dot] com requesting a copy of “The Reality Ring”, letting me know for verification purposes that you're a follower or a reader of this blog.

Lastly, make sure and tell me the format in which you'd like to read the story. I can supply three versions: .odt, PDF, and .doc. Since I haven't formatted the story for Kindle, I won't be able to give out .prc files. If you don't specify what file type you want, I'll send it in .doc.

Once I get an email from you, please be patient. It may take up to a week or longer for me to reply. African internet is less than stellar when it comes to uploads.

There are no strings attached. While I'd value your opinions and critiques, they are not required for you to receive the story.

Remember, folks, this isn't an indefinite offer. This is only available to blog followers from now up until the time the story is published. After the story is published, this post no longer valid. So make sure and hurry if you want to read the story!

(A note: as of right now, there are two more Will Vullerman stories waiting to be revised. However, those two stories require a lot more work than the others did. Combine that with the upcoming contest of NaNoWriMo, it means I probably won't get around to revising them until December at the soonest. My apologies!)

Well? What are you waiting for? Email away.

And happy reading. :)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

In Which The Theme Is At Last Introduced

Just wrote a scene in which my theme is fleshed out. While I put seeds of the theme in the previous five chapters, Chapter Six finally confronts it head-on. I figured you'd enjoy a sneak-peek, so here's a snippet from Chapter Six.

Ne'ram paused. “Now listen to me. I said I didn't have much time. I can feel a coldness climbing over my bones...but ah, I think I'm ready for it. It twists in my stomach, but I shall embrace it. To speak with my God at last!” For a moment, he lapsed into silence. Then he blinked. “Death puts me off track, lad. As I was saying, I don't have much time. In order for this quest to work, you need to remember two things.”

“Which are?”

“First, let me ask you a question. How much are you willing to give up to see the curse destroyed?”

Elijah's stomach lurched. How much would he give up? To find forgiveness...everything, maybe. If God were truly real, then he would give up anything. But instead, he found himself saying, “Why do I have to give up anything at all?”

“I tell you the truth, lad...this quest, if you accept it, will cost you dear. Good things always do. But I didn't ask what you would give up, but what you were willing to give up. There's a difference, lad.”

“I—” Elijah halted. Then he forced it out: “I'd give up anything.”

“Even your life?”

“To destroy the curse?” Elijah swallowed. “Yes.”

“That's what I needed to know, lad.” Ne'ram smiled, as if he had just confirmed something he had suspected. “The willingness is there; faith is what you must discover now. But what you have just said is the key to getting Daren's participation.”

“But how—”

“Tut, lad! I don't give out free advice. Figure it out for yourself. Wisdom isn't given, but earned. Now, for the second thing...what was it?” Ne'ram screwed up his face for a moment, and then he lit up. “Aha! When the time comes, remember this: that even though you think it may cost you your life, take the risk and do what no Elaraster has ever done before. Give up everything that makes you an Elath in order to gain what you can never lose. Don't bother trying to find out what it means, lad; you'll understand it when you need to.”

The words burrowed in Elijah's chest, like a bittersweet ache. “I—I don't understand, Ne'ram.”

“Goodness, lad! Daren isn't the only one who doesn't have ears to hear. I just told you that you wouldn't understand.” Ne'ram blew a half-raspberry. “Now, lad, go convince Daren to go on this fool quest of yours.”

I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. And again, like my other excerpts, this is freshly written and very, very rough. (I also edited for spoilers. Heh heh.) Still, I hope you get the main gist of things.

On other news, I've finally finished Chapter Six after a flurry of writing activity. Tornado C's word count is 31,058 – Chapter Six is nearly ten thousand words long. (There's no doubt about it now: it'll be broken up into at least two chapters during revisions.) Insane, but it's one of the finest things I've ever written. Worldbuilding, character, and theme all reach a peak here as the drive of the plot is at last revealed.

And I'm beginning to hope that the long chapter trend won't continue. My projected word count is climbing past 115,000 words. *headdesk* This book will be impossible to write if it keeps getting longer.

Since I've reached one of the two main turning points (chapter six and chapter eighteen) I'm putting aside Tornado C until December. The rest of October will be devoted to three things: finishing The Prophecy of Einarr (last year's NaNoNovel), continuing my Will Vullerman revisions, and storyboarding for The Voice of God, this year's NaNoNovel.

Then, on to NaNoWriMo! [insert battle cry here.]

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tornado C is way too long.

While Tornado C has been going slowly, I prefer to think that it's marinating, like a good steak. The longer it marinates (within reason) the better it will be when completely cooked.

Yesterday I cooked 25,000 words worth of steak. (The current count is actually somewhere past 26,000 now.) Yes, sir, Tornado C finally (after an arduous struggle) hit the big 100 pages mark! Unfortunately, the length problem has continued...I'm still not finished with Chapter Six. In fact, that (and Chapter Five) are ending up so long that I'll probably split them in half during my revisions and lengthen my novel by two chapters.

This also means that, if my other chapters follow the same pattern, the projected word count of Tornado C has increased to 100,000 words. (My longest novel to date is a little more than half that much.) That's four hundred pages. Insane. Especially since I'm only writing the novel from two point-of-views, and I haven't even introduced the second POV yet.

My sister keeps telling me that she “respects long novels” (and long chapters) but they sure take an awful long time to write.

On the flip side though, I'm enjoying the novel, and especially the characters. For instance:


“Daren, you blasted Celamarian, I'll kill you if you don't talk to me!”

A hoarse voice drifted up from the dark, gaping hole in the floor. “That's a sorry excuse for murdering [me].”

Elijah breathed a sigh of relief. “At least you're alive, you breadhead.”

“Breadhead? Where did you get that one?” Daren coughed, somewhere in the darkness. “And where are you?”

“I'm still where I was standing before. Is it possible to climb up?”

“Why don't you find out?” Though hoarse, Elijah reflected, Daren's voice hadn't lost any of its sardonic tone. “I can't move. I've got a big mirg blegn plank on my bremmed leg, mishkar helbrein ven negi—”

“I can speak Celamarian,” Elijah said dryly. “Your mother wouldn't be impressed with what you just said.”

^That above example was just written five minutes ago, so, like many of my excerpts, it needs quite a bit of editing. I did edit one thing though: a spoiler. Thus, the brackets. ;)

What about you all? Are you any of you doing some writing? Or are you feverishly preparing for NaNoWriMo and/or being eaten alive by carnivorous schoolwork?

I'm doing all three. ^_^

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reviewing Christian Fiction: How Far Is Too Far?

How would you feel if someone gave your book a negative review – in the sight of every potential buyer?

Yesterday I reviewed The Tide of Unmaking. While writing that review, I struggled to both give an even-handed opinion on the book and keep my critique in check. (While The Tide of Unmaking had many, many good points, and had a good rating from me, I'm able to articulate critique much better than praise.) I actually cut three or four paragraphs that imbalanced the review by focusing too much on the negatives. And while writing that review, I kept thinking, “How fair is this to a hard-working Christian author?”

These thoughts aren't new. I thought them, in a different way, while reviewing a book called Behemoth for BookSneeze. I wrote a 2.5 star review, which I posted both to Amazon and my blog. What made it worse is that I had gotten the book for free, and I felt obligated to help out the author in some way. The review, however, was one of the most negative I had written. My opinion was, in summary, that it was a creationist tract that was dressed up like a novel. I know of several people that decided against buying the novel as a result of my review.

Another example would be a book (which I'll leave nameless) that I reviewed for a fellow young Christian writer. It was a negative review, and I felt bad that I couldn't give it a better rating, but there were elements in the book that I simply couldn't tolerate.

After each of these instances, I found myself thinking, “How far is too far?”

How far will you go to write a critical review of a Christian book? Or, as I said earlier, how would you feel if a fellow believer gave your hard work – Christian work, at that – a negative review?

It's a hard question, and there's no easy answers. Most of the reviews I write are of Christian books. Each of those authors had a dream to get their baby, their novel, published for the world to see. Those authors are supported financially by their work, have invested years of sweat and blood into their work. They've sought to glorify God how best they can. Can I justify giving them a bad rating?

Some people would probably say no. And there are people who do that – who, out of respect for the author, keep to the maxim, “If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.”

Still, if I followed this principle in my reviews, I feel that I would be dishonest.

So what's the balance?

I think it's different for different people. Some of us may be feel led to not speak; some of us may feel duty-bound to let loose their opinion, negative or no.

Here's what I do. In every review, especially if they're negative, I keep three rules in mind.

1) Always balance the negative with the positive.

Writing an entirely negative review is just as offensive to me as it is to the author receiving the review. It shows lack of taste and decency. Balancing the negative with the positive “sweetens the pill” and also makes a review even-handed. Pointing out only positives or only negatives is simply dishonest. There are good elements to almost every novel. (I'm not in the business of reading novels that have no good elements, so I don't have to worry about finding elements to compliment.)

2) Keep a respectful tone of voice.

Reviews that have biting sarcasm and a mocking tone of voice never go down well. When a person uses words like “trash” and “stupid” and “junk” to describe a book, they're neglecting the fact that they are called to speak the truth – in love. And even if a person uses nice words, if they're being sardonic, their nice words are worthless.

I've read far too many reviews like this. There's a difference between critique and “bashing”. (Bashing is reserved for Twilight, so goes the joke.)

Instead, I use turns of phrase that are softer and less offensive to communicate what I mean.

3) Tell the truth.

As much as I want to support Christian authors, I don't support sugarcoating my thoughts. I am charged to use my words well: but while speaking in love I must not neglect the fact that I am supposed to be speaking truth.

If the writer needs to work on their prose, then that's what I'm going to say. If the author had his or her characters saying cheesy things throughout the book, then I'm need to let the potential reader know. Honesty is the best attribute for a reviewer to have.

What about you? What are your thoughts about writing negative reviews, especially if the negative review is of a Christian book? Have you ever written any negative reviews? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: The Tide of Unmaking

The adventure reaches new heights with the highly anticipated third and final installment of Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper's award winning series, The Berinfell Prophecies: The Tide of Unmaking - Book 3.

Seven years have passed since the Lords of Berinfell - Tommy, Kat, Jimmy, Johnny, Autumn and Kiri Lee - watched the horror of Vesper Crag wash away, as well as their fallen kinsman, Jett Green. But with Grimwarden in exile, the realm of Berinfell finds itself ill-equipped to weather the coming storms.

Kiri Lee begins to whisper of ghostly visitations. Taeva, Princess of the Taladrim, desperately seeks out the Elves of Berinfell to rescue her kingdom. And the genocidal Drefid Lord Asp launches his campaign to conquer Allyra. And Earth. But far worse still is a consuming terror on the horizon: an unstoppable force that threatens to devour all creation and all hope.
Nations will crumble, loyalties will be tested, and even the might of Berinfell’s Lords may not be enough to stem The Tide of Unmaking. (From

Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper return at last with the final installment of The Berinfell Prophecies: The Tide of Unmaking.

I was privileged to have the opportunity to proof-read this book for the authors, so I got to read it a month or so before everyone else. (Huzzah!) As this was a self-published book, I was curious to see how the quality of the book measured up with the other two books of the series, Curse of the Spider King and Venom and Song.

As it turned out, mechanically speaking, The Tide of Unmaking was excellent. Balancing dialogue, description, action, and plot, the prose of this book was as good or better than the first two in the series, especially in the first hundred pages. While I felt that the quality of the rest of the book wasn't quite as good, as a whole The Tide of Unmaking was very well-edited.

The authors have said on multiple occasions that this book was going to be blow-your-pants-off epic. If the goal of the book was to be epic in scope, then the authors have certainly achieved their goal. Plotwise, The Tide of Unmaking was fantastic. It was fast-moving, causing the pages to speed by – even for someone like me, who was reading the book in order to give feedback – and had a wider scope than the previous two books, which had been mostly focused on the Elves. This book was much broader, introducing all of the races that inhabited Allyra, with their own unique cultures, wars, and characters.

In the tradition of the first two books, The Tide of Unmaking sends the Six Lords gallivanting around the entire known world, and then some, to defeat truly despicable villains and save two worlds: Allyra and Earth. We revisit places we know well and discover new locales. Allyra especially was vivid in detail and rich in history. In world-building, plot, and prose, then, the authors did very well.

In the character department, however, I felt that The Tide of Unmaking fell short. As a character-first novelist myself (a title that I've only recently accepted) perhaps I felt this absence more than others. Characters were minimally developed – enough to be “adequate” but never more so. Many of the characters felt shallow to me. (There is one notable exception, however: Taeva surprised me on many occasions. She was, by far, the most developed and rounded character in the book, and one of my favorites.)

The problem is that this occurs for each of the characters. They have their personality differences, but seldom more than that. They were developed enough for them to be realistic and somewhat three-dimensional, but not enough for us to really love them on a deeper level. Even scenes that should have revealed more character felt rushed in order to get to the “big events” of the plot.

That was the one downside of The Tide of Unmaking: that the plot overshadowed the character far too much. In the end, however, it is the characters that are remembered. Fantastic plots can only be lived through once; but the characters that are in those tales can be relished forever.

Theme is inevitably tied to character. Where character is, there is the theme as well. And meaningful theme (which is what I expected, from reading Batson's Dark Sea Annals and Hopper's White Lion Chronicles) was conspicuously absent from this tale.

In The Tide of Unmaking, Tommy almost starts eating Mumthers' delicious food before thanking Ellos (God) for the meal. Sheepishly, he tacks on a prayer and then lets everybody eat. I felt like The Tide of Unmaking was similar; that the authors, in their haste to deliver “a good meal” to the readers, didn't take as much time as I would have liked to nourish the reader in spirit as well as in their thirst for a good story.

This wasn't to say that there was no theme, however; there were smaller themes here and there. And these are well and good. But as a whole, The Tide of Unmaking just didn't deliver all the sections of the “story pyramid” to create a fully nourishing tale.

However, don't take this to mean that this book isn't great. The Tide of Unmaking is worth every penny, and at a fantastic eBook price, what are you waiting for? Buy the book and judge for yourself. I definitely recommend it, especially to fans of the previous Berinfell Prophecies books. You'll find here a war cry for the valiant soul.

Rated 8.5 out of 10.  (Four stars.)  Recommended for any Christian fantasy lover!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Infamous Month of October

So what makes October special? I feel a list coming on.

1) It marks the golden dawn of autumn, which means, in the States, that trees “go out with a bang” and lose their leaves in a most spectacular manner.

October isn't quite so spectacular in Liberia, unfortunately. It does mark, however, the end of the rainy season. Several days ago we had a storm that came from the inland, the first such storm since June. During the rainy season the storms come in from the sea, so this particular storm signified that the beginning of the end had finally come. The hot African dry season is coming!

2) Most importantly (at least in my eyes) it is my month of birth. That makes it the most awesome month of the year. Falltime is just an added bonus.

3) Almost as importantly, October is the month of preparation for NaNoWriMo.

Yes, sir. NaNoWriMo is on its way – the month that is generally characterized by massive turkey genocides and similar character genocides by thousands of sadistic writers everywhere.

October is the month where you chew your fingernails down to nubs in preparation for losing your fingernails altogether during NaNoWriMo. It is where those of us that plan our novels (myself not included) write outlines and rewrite outlines and write more outlines and delete outlines to foreshadow thirty incredible days of literary abandon.

And yes, I'm going to be doing it. In Africa. I successfully completed NaNoWriMo 2010 and 2011, and I aim to add NaNo 2012 to my list of accomplishments...or bust!

October is also going to be the month that I finish last year's NaNo, The Prophecy of Einarr, and start brainstorming for The Prophecies: Book Three, The Voice of God. (It's been in the back of my mind for six months, but because of my current projects, I've pushed it away until now.) I'm pretty excited about it, but I'm trying to focus on Tornado C until NaNo plans force me to take a break.

Oh, and I'm still working on Will Vullerman. (Coming slowly, sorry. I've got way too much on my plate right now.) That makes, oh, four projects to work on in the month of October. Eurgh. We'll see how much I'll actually get done. I'm not going to be able to finish Tornado C before NaNoWriMo, but I hope to resume my work after November and finish it by January 2013.

So, October. That's just my two cents. Or three cents, rather. But what about you? Do you have any particular thoughts on what makes October, October?

And who out there is doing NaNoWriMo? (Highfive do those who are! We shall conquer! Mwahahahaha!)