Monthly Archives: December 2009

Merry Christmas and Other Stuff

Yesterday as I punched out a few paragraphs of “The Red Dagger” I hope to submit to Amazon’s Breakout Novel contest, I realized rewriting the entire thing may not be the best strategy.

The contest begins January 25, and that means I would have to punch out over 75,000 words in 30 days. With Christmas, a week’s vacation in Texas from December 29 – January 5, plus other obligations including an author interview with Becky Levine and putting together a Celebration of Life book for a dear friend that passed away five days ago, where will I find the time to write?

Instead I will edit the original document using notes I wrote on the hard copy. With a few added scenes I have planned, that means I will only have to type 10k-15k words. Much more doable in thirty days.

Whether you celebrate Christmas as a time to enjoy family and gift-giving, or celebrate the birth of our Savior, I pray it’s full of joy and laughter.

Stay safe and warm, and I’ll likely see you all after the New Year.

Seeing is Believing

Last night I watched “The Santa Clause II” with Tim Allen. Not the greatest movie of all time, but not a total waste, either.

There is one line in there, however, that says a lot about what having faith in the unseen really means.

“Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.”

For some, the idea of an unseen God seems so foreign. How can a God exist who allows evil to flourish all over the world? If this so called omnipotent God is so perfect and good, then why does he sit back and do nothing?

Easy words, and a difficult question I cannot answer even now. All I can say is once I took up Jesus’s invitation to salvation, I began to see less of evil’s triumph, and more of the good. He shows me, bit by bit that even though evil lurks and wins many a battle on this earth, God also wins a few, and will in the end win this war.

He never said life would be fair or easy, but that as long as we believe and trust in him, we will see and take part in his ultimate triumph.

In fact, Jesus won the war 2000 years ago when he came to this earth and willingly — out of pure love — accepted the sacrifice for all our evil deeds. All he asks for in return is our love.

I can’t think of a better gift, for Christmas or any other day of the year.

A Whiny Entry. Beware.

With a friend in the hospital and the chances of survival dropping with every hour, how can I think of whining about my petty difficulties?

Maybe it’s because we can only worry about things we can’t control — that it’s ultimately in God’s ever-capable (and incomprehensible) hands — for so long before the tiny inconveniences of life intrude once again.

I wrote a few entries back that my novella, “A Reason to Hope” was chosen among four others to be the possible book of the month in the ACFW group on Yahoo. With three days to go, “A Reason to Hope” is running dead last with one vote: mine. Hell, at this rate I may as well delete it. What’s zero votes compared to one?

But that would mean I no longer believe in the story, and that’s far from the case. It’s getting other people to believe in it that’s the difficult — and likely impossible — part.

Do the lack of votes say my book sucks, or that the competition is that much better?

At the risk of sounding full of self-pity, I’m accustomed to coming in last that started in grade school. I don’t like it, but I’m used to it. I doubt at these frustrating times I will ever make the top of anyone’s list, or contest.

But then I must ask myself: Who does my writing belong to?

God. Not me. Therefore what happens with it, after I’ve done all I can do is all up to him. If I come in last, it doesn’t necessarily mean my story is worthless, but that God wanted the winner to win.

Once again, God is merely asking me to be patient. At the same time, though, it’d be nice to have some affirmation that I’m on the right track.

Which I did get, before you start typing on how silly I am and that my writing is indeed worthy of a little praise!

Since the contest began, someone did purchase my book through Smashwords, an ebook publisher. My first sale through them, which brings my total book sales up to 25. It’s not much in comparison to many, but for me it’s 25 more copies than I expected to sell. Especially considering I don’t market as aggressively as I could.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to edit more of my other novel I plan on submitting to (and likely losing 😉 ) another contest.

Falling in Love

Part of what motivates me to write is love. Love of the written word. Love for the story, and love for the characters.

The book — entitled “The Red Dagger” — I want to submit to Amazon’s contest is a labor of love.

The impetus of the book was a character that appeared in the seventh (yes, seventh) draft of my first novel. He so intrigued me, I wanted to write his story. You could say I fell in love with him. The character, Titus Allegine, is overall a decent person. He, however, likes to fight, even kill, but his moral compass is strong enough he won’t kill in cold blood. He instead fuels that desire by protecting others as a bodyguard-for-hire. The book begins with him as a child when his entire family is murdered by an assassin’s bomb.

I tackled the story originally in 2005 during national novel writing month in November. I finished it I believe six months and about 75,000 words later.

Overall the story itself is solid. There are scenes that need working as well as the writing, but the ending requires the most modification. Without giving it away, the climax peters out instead of bangs. To leave the ending as is would result in many an upset reader.

The last thing I want is anyone to throw my book across the room (or in the garbage) in anger or frustration.

“The Red Dagger” could also fit as the beginning of a series. Whether or not it’ll get that far is anyone’s guess. I have yet to think up of a sequel, but I haven’t taken the time to brainstorm, either.

Plus Titus appears again in the second book of my first trilogy with a slightly larger role.

What amazes me is how I can keep all these characters, plots and subplots of multiple stories all straight in my head. I can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday!

Wahoo!

My novella “A Reason to Hope” was chosen as an AFCW Book Club of the month selection for March, 2010. Because I’m so excited, I’m offering my book at a 25% discount HERE.

If you’d rather read it now and save a few bucks, a Kindle addition is available as well as other formats through Smashwords. Links to both is included in the page linked above.

I hope you enjoy it enough you’ll vote for it, but I also recommend you give the others a try as well.

Thank you bunches.

What do I have to lose?

Every year Amazon holds a non-published/self-published contest called The Breakout Novel Award. The two grand prize winners will win a $15,000 publishing contract with Penguin USA.

My first nanonovel was a straight science fiction based on a minor character in my first novel. I loved the character so much I wanted to tell his story.

So far I have only the first draft done, and who knows if I could rewrite the thing in time for the February 7th deadline. It wouldn’t hurt to try either way. If I don’t make it, at least I’ll have the second draft somewhat completed.

Do I think I have the remotest chance? Not really. But that’s not the point. It’s in the attempt that we discover what we can — and can’t — do. At the very least I will see some exposure as a serious writer, perhaps gain a reader or two. At this time in my writing career, it’s enough.

If you’re curious on entering as well, check out https://www.createspace.com/abna

Have a great weekend!

Having more fun than a human being ought to have.

Any idea where I got the title of this entry?

I’m surprised to say it, but now that my book is out of the running, I’m having more fun on the forums. How strange is that?

Part of it is I no longer have to keep quiet as to which one is mine, and I could engage with those who liked my premise, and who didn’t. I learned quite a bit as to where my premise went wrong, and what I did right.

The third phase of the contest is in full gear, with a lot of people discussing what they liked or didn’t like about a particular entry. Plus I get to put in my own quarter (taking into consideration current inflation).

I still encourage everyone to continue reading the entries and voting whether the ones you liked are in the running or not. How often do we get to decide what book gets published? Plus as writers, it’s an excellent learning experience to discover what readers are looking for.

To find out more, click HERE and go to the Marcher Lord Select thread. You’ll be prompted for a username and password, so if you haven’t created one yet, it’s easy enough. In the main contest you have to vote for three, minimum and maximum. For the premise contest, the minimum is three and the maximum is eight.

Some of the discussions got a little heated, and it reminded me of something I read a few years ago. I wish I could remember who said it so I could give proper credit:

“When an editor tears apart your writing, your baby, you see a person grabbing hold of the little one and slashing it with a knife. Your first instinct is to grab it back and attack the person who tried to destroy what you created. That’s not it at all. An editor is merely taking your child in his or her arms to give it a bath, put on a clean diaper, and dress it up to make it more presentable.”

Bruised Ego, Not So Broken Bike

The voting for the Marcher Lord Select contest is now closed, and the results are in.

Out of 49 entries, mine ended up somewhere in the bottom 29. That means my manuscript will not be moving on to the next phase.

When I saw the final list sans mine, I admit to a few tears.

I shut down my computer, preferring to mope instead of wishing the winners Godspeed in the next round. I was not inclined to be gracious in losing. Yep, I wanted to be a poor sport, and sing to all within ear (eye) shot my “woe is me.”

And I did. For about thirty minutes as I watched my little boy — up and eager to play since 4am.

All the icky thoughts of how worthless my writing and stories are poked and prodded. Shouldn’t I just give up the entire writing thing — or at least publishing thing — and concentrate on more important things such as raising my child and making sure I work hard enough to keep food on the table? Perhaps I should write for my own pleasure and sanity, and forget about sharing my measly offerings to the world.

Nothing like a child with little care to put things in perspective. Here he played and giggled, thrilled with the single fact I allowed him out of his crib to run around the living room.

Really, what does it matter my story didn’t make the next round? It’s still possible MLP will pick up my book for publication; it just won’t be as soon as I’d like.

No longer desiring to wallow, but needing a spiritual “There, there,” I picked up my Bible and read the following passage:

“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.” ~ 1 John 5:14

No matter how hard I fight it at times (more often than I should), writing is my heart’s desire. But more than that, I want to share it; not to glorify me, but to glorify God.

It’s at times like these — when I appear to fail — that God reminds me it’s not about me, but about him and his will.

So I have to ask, am I following God’s will by presenting my work to publishers?

The answer invariably comes back as yes.

How do I know?

In this case, because God, through his Word, pushed the self-pity away and encouraged me to get back on those boards and express my congratulations. By the time I wrote the last word, I was sincere about it. I also started my own thread to ask everyone what worked and what didn’t.

Within minutes someone responded with why she liked it and how she was saddened it wouldn’t be going forward.

My little 100-word blurb effected at least one person.

Proof enough to me I shouldn’t give up. With time, work and continued patience, my book will end up on someone’s shelf.

God willing.