Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Coming together

Now the new first chapter is completed, three scenes each of about a thousand words. These incorporate bits of what used to be chapters three and four with a lot of new material--and lots of the former first chapter got tossed--so I'm reading through (again) making the changes to keep the story flowing through this section. Don't need the characters having the same conversation twice!

I'm currently through chapter eight with this continuity check, and I expect to discover a hiccup or two in the ending chapters anyway that will require real editing. And then there's the spell-check round.

I have a specific goal date and agent in mind for a proposal package, so I'm working through the synopsis one more time, plus the query letter and all that good stuff. I'm getting nervous. This is where the rubber meets the road.

Meanwhile, the main character from my newest idea keeps drifting through my mind, wondering if I'm ready to play yet.

Not yet, Sebastian. A little more patience. Another week, perhaps.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Marks opening scene # 83

Or something.

But I think I've found it! I really really think I've found the right spot to enter this story. The right setting, the right confrontation, the right characters in place. I'm LOVING it. It has a HOOK!!!!

What I'm not loving is the fact that the second scene doesn't follow the first scene. And I could have nightmares about trying to find the right place for the story to rejoin the path of its being. Tomorrow may be soon enough for that.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Book Tour - Illuminated by Matt Bronleewe

When the blog tour book list for October came out way back a few months ago, I said to my husband, "Here, this sounds like your kind of book." So I read him the little blurb thingy and he agreed. I told him I'd get it for him if he promised to read it and review it for the tour this week.

What's the book about? Well, Illuminated sounds like some sort of cross between National Treasure, the Da Vinci Code, Indiana Jones, the Knights Templar...and a bunch of stuff out of Matt Bronleewe's head.

From the back cover:
August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depends on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-pained illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.

It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.

If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.

The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself

So we've had the novel for about a week now, but hubby (DH) has been working out of town quite a bit of that time. I've noticed him reading it though, so it's time to interview him for this report.

VRC: How far into the novel are you?

DH: Three quarters or so...and I read the last chapter!

VRC: Are you going to read the pages in between?

DH: Yep.

VRC: What do you think of it so far?

DH: I enjoyed it; it's a tight book with lots of twists and turns.

VRC: What have you liked best?

DH: The characters and the initial premise, how he gets trapped and figures out what is going on, with two opposing sides working against each other. And he's caught in the middle.

VRC: What would you say is the book's weakness?

DH: Nothing, I've enjoyed the book so far.

VRC: Who would you recommend this novel to?

DH: Anyone who likes thinking books with a twist, action adventure books, suspense.


November is almost upon us and with that comes NaNoWriMo, more commonly known as Nano and actually short for National Novel Writing Month. Never mind that it's international, not national, and that the actual goal is to write 50,000 words of a brand-new novel in the month of November. Which doesn't usually complete a novel unless it is Young Adult or an unfleshed-out draft.

Nano is great fun. Zillions of people sign up and egg each other on. Lots of people don't make it to 50K. But then again, a lot of them do. I have, three times. In 2004 I got 50K into the first draft of a fantasy spoof, Quest to be Queen, which I completed in March of '05. That's the next novel I'm planning to revise because I'm needing lots of good laughs, and Quest will provide those.

In 2005 I decided to try my hand at writing an inspirational romance, which is still unnamed though I did make it through 54K. It has a few really good scenes in it and, I suppose, some potential. If I ever decide to seriously aim for a career in writing romance I'll certainly dust this one off. However, in the meanwhile, I'm not feelin' it calling to me.

In 2006 I wrote a 57K YA fantasy dubbed The Girl Who Cried Squid. I had a great time with this novel, also, and it's on the list for revision right behind Quest.

So, 2007...and I'm not doing Nano this year. Why not? Three of my seven first drafts were written during Nano! It seems as though the process works! Well, it does and it doesn't. I was going stir crazy this summer and wrote a bunch of words on a contemporary women's novel, Connect the Dot. I totally did this just for fun and because I really really needed to be creating something. The revision of Marks of Repentance was taking waaaaay too long.

So what have I learned? I think I need to have a writing project on the go: something I can work on a little at a time and that it's okay if it takes a year to finish a draft instead of a month. Because every novel I write needs at least two more full passes, maybe more. So truly, my first drafting should be taking up (approximately) a quarter to a third of my writing time. Jamming that into one month in the fall, with overflow, isn't cutting it for me. It makes it too long between creative times. If I could write one, revise one it would probably work, but then the first drafts would start building up and it would take forever to get something ready for market.

So this is my new plan. Not sure if it will work or not, but I need to try something new. I'm one of those people that, upon proving to myself that I can accomplish something difficult--and 50,000 words in a month is not a walk in the park--doesn't feel compelled to keep proving that I can do it.

Lots of my writing pals are signed up and raring to go: Mar, Jean, Bonnie, Erin...maybe others. I'm happy to cheer them on! But I'm sitting out this one.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Book Tour - The Bark of the Bog Owl -- Day 3

Besides the very popular Wilderking series for children, Jonathon Rogers is also the author of The World According to Narnia - Christian Meaning in C.S. Lewis' Beloved Chronicles. He is in a unique position to write such a book being as he holds a Ph.D. in seventeenth-century English literature from Vanderbilt University.

Some of the highlights of the tour include:
Brandon Barr talks about the way fantasy can help us look at Bible stories with a fresh eye. Grace Bridges has a great review; she also noticed the connection to the wildness aspect that I referred to in yesterday's post. Janey DeMeo, who accepts the fact that she is a LOTR fan, interviewed Jonathan Rogers to ask about the influences Tolkein may have had on his work.

Andrea Graham questions the validity of a fantasy story that borrow heavily for setting (Georgia), plot (the biblical story of David), and an old-fashioned story telling style. What can I say? It seems to work! Mike Lynch has a thoughtful review. Robert Treskillard complains that he had a hard time getting into the stories, but only because his teenagers made him wait in line for his opportunity to start. Eve Nielsen breaks down the stats for the story in a fun-filled way.

Deena Peterson is having a give-away...but you have to scroll waaaaaaaay down on her blog to find the post. And on the flip side of that coin, Cheryl Russel says she gives away lots of books, and this will NOT be one of them. It's a keeper!

Hanna Sandvig looks at the website with the eye of an artist. James Somers has reviews, not only of The Bark of the Bog Owl but the other stories in the trilogy. Steve Trower contemplates that so many fantasy novels are about a boy named Aidan (spellings variable, but still...)

Whew! Lots of interesting stuff for the Christian Science Fiction Fantasy Blog Tour this month! Did I miss anything unique?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Book Tour -- The Bark of the Bog Owl -- Day 2

Jonathan Rogers is the father of six kids. As such, he first of all wrote The Bark of the Bog Owl (and the remainder of the Wilderking Trilogy) for his children.

At DayStar E-store, Rogers' bio reads like this:

Rising author Jonathan Rogers' takes biblical fiction to a new level in imaginative fantasy.

Inspired by Tolkien and Lewis Georgia-born author Jonathan Rogers will thrill faith fiction readers of all ages. Desiring to teach his own boys about moral excellence, and encouraged by recent John Eldredge and James Dobson blockbusters, Rogers explains:

"Books like WILD AT HEART and BRINGING UP BOYS remind us that to raise a God-fearing boy is not to domesticate him, but rather to harness and direct his sense of adventure - his God-given wildness. But parents inspired by these books still face the challenge of finding books that will inspire their boys. The Bark of the Bog Owl grows out of my desire to write that kind of book."

Jonathan Rogers grew up in Georgia, where he spent many happy hours in the swamps and riverbottoms on which the wild places of The Wilderking are based. He received his undergraduate degree from Furman University in South Carolina and holds a Ph.D. in seventeenth-century English literature from Vanderbilt University. The Bark of the Bog Owl has already found a receptive audience among Jonathan’s own six children. The Rogers clan lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where Jonathan makes a living as a freelance writer. The Bark of the Bog Owl is his first novel.

Rogers' characters have as much in common with Huck Finn as they do with Frodo Baggins. The author himself says the swampy settings of the novel are rooted in his native Georgia, and those places lend a freshness to the story not found in many other modern fantasies.

What was it I noticed?

It's been less than a year since John Eldredge's book Wild at Heart has come to my attention. Honestly, it's something I wish had been around when we were raising our son (now an adult) because it resonated so deeply with both my husband and I when we read it. Eldredge examines what has happened to manhood in our society and what it really means to be masculine in today's world.

Now I am thinking back to Rogers' novels with a new understanding. He didn't write the *feechiefolk* and their rough and tumble lifestyle (complete with great insults and mocking poetry) just for the fun of having wild people in his novels. He wanted to show the wildness that is in a boy's heart, wanted to respond to it, wanted to nurture it.

If you have ever wondered how to raise a boy effectively, read Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. But if you want your son to RESONATE (that's today's word in case you missed it: resonate) with who his heart longs to be, give him The Bark of the Bog Owl to read.

Mind you, the feechies are a great invention any which way you look at them, even if they're not precisely role-models. And while the stories are admittedly aimed straight at boys, girls are not immune to the charms of the feechies either. Though they might not consider them charming.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Book Tour -- The Bark of the Bog Owl

I discovered Jonathan Rogers in the summer of 2006 and posted a review here of my delight in his first fantasy novel for children, The Bark of the Bog Owl.

Now as life sometimes goes, my copy for this blog tour didn't arrive so I'm especially thankful that I've had a chance to read the first two books previously, though I don't have them on hand. Really--if you have kids, especially boys ages 8-12 or so, pick up the Wilderking Trilogy.

Here's how Rogers describes The Bark of the Bog Owl:
"The trilogy tells the story of Aidan Errolson, a shepherd boy who finds out that it is his destiny to be the Wilderking, the long-prophesied wild man who will come from the forests and swamps to set things right in the island kingdom of Corenwald. Along the way he falls in with the feechiefolk, a tribe of semi-civilized swamp people who fight too much, cry too easily, laugh at jokes they’ve heard a hundred times, and smell terrible. I like to call the Wilderking Trilogy a “fantasy-adventure story told in an American accent.”

Ah, that's good but it doesn't give a FEEL for the story itself. I think we need the opening paragraphs to do that--you knew I couldn't resist, even though I apparently was already into copying the first paragraphs as long ago as that previous post:
His Majesty, King Darrow of Corenwald,
Protector of the People,
Defender of the Faith,
Keeper of the Island
Tambluff Castle
West Bank of the River Tam
Tambluff, Corenwald

My Dearest King--
You will be glad to learn that I am still available for any quest, adventure, or dangerous mission for which you might need a champion or knight-errant. I specialize in dragon-slaying, but would be happy to fight pirates or invading barbarians if circumstances require. I would even be willing to rescue a fair maiden imprisoned by evil relatives. That would not be my first choice, since I am not of marrying age. Still, in peaceful and prosperous times like these, an adventurer takes whatever work he can find. As always, I am at your service and eagerly await your reply.

Yours very sincerely,
Aidan Errolson of Longleaf Manor

P.S. I have not yet received an answer to my last letter - or to my fourteen letters before that. Mail service being what it is on the frontier, I assume your replies were lost. I hope you don’t mind that I have taken the liberty of writing again.

Holding the stiff palmetto paper between ink-stained fingers, Aidan admired his letter one more time before rolling it and putting it back in his side pouch. The mail wagon wouldn’t be by for another couple of days, and he thought it best to keep the letter on hand, in case another postscript came to him. Besides being an avid letter-writer, Aidan Errolson was a warrior and an adventurer. He lived to ride with King Darrow’s armies. He thrilled to hear the clank of plate armor, the bright ring of a sword unsheathed. He would rather sleep on a bedroll in a battle camp than in the finest bed in the finest castle in all of Corenwald.

At least, that’s who he was on the inside.

If you want to read the rest of the first chapter, go here.

One of the most unique bits about these books is the feechiefolk. In an interview here, the Q&A goes like this:
In Bark of the Bog Owl, we are introduced to Dobro and the Feechies. How did you come up with the idea for the Feechie people—their distinct culture?

Believe it or not, there's a person out there who inspired Dobro! I came back to my hometown for a couple of summers, while I was in the PhD program at Vanderbilt, to work for a remodeling crew. I worked with a fellow named Jake, who lived way out in the woods somewhere. Most nights he went out hunting wild boar in the riverbottom forests. He didn’t carry a gun. He had some dogs that would catch the hog, and he’d whirl in with a length of rope and tie it up. He and his buddies would carry the boar out of the woods on a pole, alive. He came to work crying one morning because an alligator had eaten his dog. I thought, "Wow, what a world this is; I'm living this suburban, academic life, but I'm working shoulder to shoulder with a guy who lives this way!"

That's the idea of the Feechiefolks—their wild existence is buzzing in the trees around the civilizers, and the civilizers don't quite realize it. I had thought, back when I worked with Jake, "If I ever write a book, I'd love to have Jake in it." And there he is! Dobro is a bit exaggerated—Jake wasn't quite that wild, but he was pretty wild. That notion of valuing physical courage that's so important to the Feechiefolks came from Jake and his crowd. I might value physical courage, but I'm not going go out in the woods and tie up a wild boar!

So I was wandering the internet for interesting tidbits to share and came across some references that I'm sure existed when I researched the first blog post but hadn't really observed. Sometimes we have to see things a few different places before they start to resonate. What did I notice about the reason Rogers writes about wild places and wild boys? Come back tomorrow and we'll talk about it.

Here are the other tour members who will have their own interesting take on The Bark of the Bog Owl:
Brandon Barr, Jim Black, Justin Boyer, Grace Bridges, Amy Browning, Jackie Castle, CSFF Blog Tour, D. G. D. Davidson, Chris Deanne, Janey DeMeo , Merrie Destefano, Alien Dream, Jeff Draper , April Erwin, Linda Gilmore, Marcus Goodyear, Andrea Graham, Jill Hart, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Christopher Hopper, Becca Johnson, Jason Joyner, Karen, Dawn King, Mike Lynch, Rachel Marks, Karen McSpadden, Melissa Meeks, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Eve Nielsen, John W. Otte, Lyn Perry , Deena Peterson , Rachelle, Cheryl Russel, Ashley Rutherford, Hanna Sandvig, Chawna Schroeder, James Somers, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Donna Swanson, Daniel I. Weaver, Laura Williams, Timothy Wise

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Laptop Love

Being as hubby's rotation had him away at work all weekend and I hadn't been feeling the greatest lately, I sweet-talked him into leaving the laptop home for me. I mean, I know I have two desktop computers (one at work and one at home) and of course the adorable Palm Tungsten E2 but none of those are a laptop. And I envisioned comfy hours in my recliner with heat on my back, surfing the internet and working away all weekend.

Still, all sitting is bad--even in the world's greatest recliner. So I brought the timer over and set it for 45 minutes...and began critting a novel for Mar. When the timer went off, I re-set it for 15 minutes and went off to do some housework.

The second set I spent working on my synopsis of Marks of Repentance. The first market I'm looking at wants a synopsis of 1-3 pages and mine is currently 2, so that at least is a help. What is hard for me to tell is if it is clear, so it's going out to a few folk who aren't familiar with the novel and then I'll see where I've confuzelated things. (Great word, huh?) And then 15 minutes of housework.

Third set I spent at the desk-top computer working on my family calendar that I take on every year. This is the ninth annual coming up! It's not at crunch point yet--still waiting for some photos to come in from family, but I was pleased with what I got done even so. And 15 minutes of housework.

Then I went back to the synopsis. And housework. And critting. And housework.

By then it was late afternoon and I decided I'd had enough productivity. So I went on to other things, like cooking up a LOT of dry beans and making a mega-pot of soup. Canned some of the beans and saved the rest for today, when I also canned up the soup. Yes, I'm crazy.

The beauty of the laptop came into play again, because with the wireless now set up on the broadband, I could leave the laptop open on the peninsula (well away from stove and sink) and work on things while the canner canned. So I worked through a few more chapters of crit. And now I'm blogging from the recliner again! Gotta love it.

When one of my desktop computers dies, I'll replace with a laptop and the remaining desktop will live at home. I think I still want to have at least one desktop though.

Spoiled? Perhaps. Three computers (and two Palms) might seem like over-kill for two people. The same two people have only two vehicles--one, if you count the fact that the truck has been out of commission for a couple of weeks. It's supposed to be home, (almost) as good as new tomorrow. I hope. I'm ready for my own wheels again too.

It's been a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins

Even though Brandilyn Collins writes suspenseful books (and we all know how I feel about being scared!), I seem to have gotten into the habit of reading a lot of her books, at least her Kanner Lake series. So when book three Crimson Eve came out recently, I decided to get a copy to talk about here.

Let's talk about the opening paragraphs, shall we? (You knew that was coming!) Here's the excerpt:
"Really, is a heinous murder any reason to devalue such a glorious piece of real estate?"

The words rolled off the man's tongue in a luscious British accent and with a hint of tease, lending him a cocky James Bond air. He was dashingly handsome (a good British description, what?). Dark hair, rich brown eyes, a jaw cut just so--not too square, but firm. Carla Radling glanced at his left hand. No ring. But then he'd already intimated he was single. A real-estate developer, he'd said over the phone yesterday. And apparently rich, although no proper English gentleman would say so. He was "seeking a beautiful and private piece of property near water as a second home," and the half-page ad in Dream Homes had caught his eye. If he liked the place, he'd pay cash.

To think she'd complained about the high cost of the ad.

Behind them, the heavy wrought-iron gates of the estate that once belonged to the late actress Edna San closed with a muted clang. Carla steered her white Toyota Camry down the impressive driveway curving through the forest. Her client, David Thornby--although James Bond fit so much better--dignified her front seat. His legs, in impeccable beige trousers, were confidently apart, his left arm draped over the console, fingers casually drumming. His navy sport jacket boasted a thousand-dollar weave.

So what can we learn from these paragraphs? We figure out that Carla, the MC, is in real estate and that she is very hopeful of clinching a large deal today...and maybe more. We see a clear picture of the man--David--and a sense of the location. And knowing Brandilyn Collins, the hint that all is not as it seems is not far in coming.

Have a look at that very first line again, will you? Once you've read further, you get a feel for the irony of that statement, coming from David Thornby. Indeed. The twist is just ahead.

While many of the characters in this story have appeared in the earlier books in this series, Violet Dawn and Coral Moon, you really wouldn't have to have read them to enjoy Crimson Eve. You *do* have to be ready for a roller coaster ride, though. As Brandilyn Collins' tag line says: Don't forget to b r e a t h e...

(Oh, hey! I just heard about a special offer from Brandilyn herself: A giveaway of signed copies of Crimson Eve! To qualify, you must be able to state you've never read one of her books (tell me in comments, and leave your email addy in a format that a spam-bot can't pick up). The first FIFTY names she receives (from the continental USA) will receive a complimentary novel! I'll forward any comments in to her as soon as I see them, so don't delay! GOGOGO!)

Doin' the Happy Dance

My word count goal for Marks of Repentance all along has been 100K. Today I wrote THE END (for the third--or is it the fourth?--time) with 99,752 words.

Happy sigh.

The last 3000 words or so are pretty much brand new so I know I'll find plenty of little wording errors. Maybe even bigger errors. I may even have forgotten a thing or two I meant to include. And I have new plans for the opening scenes. I know I'm not REALLY done.

But for today, the file is DONE, saved, backed up and closed.

And I'm going to play with something else. No idea what yet. Maybe just customers...

Monday, October 15, 2007

97K and change

As you can see, Blogger decided to be nice to me this evening and allow me to change up the rest of the layout. Here we are till the snow flies.

Revising went well again today. Sometimes it is amazing to find out that I planted seeds for certain thread tie-offs way back in the story and didn't even notice that they were there. The power of the sub-conscious at work, I guess. Today I was mulling over that last sub-plot that I didn't really know how to end when I realized that the answers were already there in the text. They just needed a bit of tweaking. Back and forth I went over the past eight chapters or so seeking the right spots to change just one sentence here and there. So I'm pleased with that and feeling really positive with how the ending is pulling together. I'm smack in the midst of the climatic scene right now.

Thank God--truly--for good critiquers who aren't afraid to tell me when things aren't working.

I read somewhere again recently that the denouement--the wrap-up scene--needs to directly answer the questions that were set-up in the first scene. So as I'm within reach of that last scene, I'm thinking back to the beginning (and the comments from the contest judges) and believe I've found the best opening scene to deliver a bit more punch. So being *finished* won't mean finished at all. I think I'll have to flip the novel back to the beginning and start again at that end. Hopefully the stuff in the middle will be solid enough to ignore now though!

I really want to start revising a different story soon. Like Quest to be Queen. I'm in the mood for a light-hearted romp through spoofiness about now. But first I have to have Marks kicked out of the nest. Really. Must stay focused. It's soooo close.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Blogger hates me. What else is new? I had the whole new layout ready and it just refuses to load up. All but the pretty picture. That's it, I give up for tonight!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Autumn Joy!

We've had a fair bit of rain in the past few weeks, which we've needed. However, today is a lovely sunny autumn day and I went for a long walk (about 3.5 mile return) with the camera. Here is the mountain ash tree right in our yard.

This clump of trees was struck by lightning over 20 years ago. There are a few little copses like this one along our road. I'm heading west here, across the valley.

This irrigation channel is where I usually turn around and head back home. It's about a mile from our house, and from here west is private land with limited access through.

No one is living on that property right now, though. And this tree beckoned me in for a closer look!

Once past the empty house, it's a long walk across the field to the river. The pass you see in the mountains is the way the highway takes. It's the way we drive when we go *over the mountain* (as opposed to via ferry) to visit my mom or my daughter.

I spent twenty minutes or more sitting on the dike along the river, enjoying the breeze, the birds, and the sunlight. A great way to spend a Saturday morning!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Today's writing/ revising went really well. It's amazing how much clearer I can think without a headache! In re-reading notes from my various critiquers, I think I'm on track to address all of the issues. Some of them still need to be wrapped up, of course, but I've been laying the groundwork for them. One fairly major point I still don't quite know how to solve, but it's still coming up and doesn't need foreshadowing. I'm hoping something sensible will come to me! :P

I expanded two scenes by quite a lot today and did minor tweaks on a number of others to bring them in line with the vision and clean up grammar, minor continuity and wording issues. The original novel has 4K left--two chapters--in it that I haven't touched yet. I'm guessing I'll be adding at least 2000 additional words so will likely come in just over 100K.

There have been many times in the past months that I have been so bogged down in this novel I hated the whole thing. I'm starting to remember why I once liked it. It's been almost three years since I began worldbuilding, so it's been a long haul, though of course I've worked on other projects as well in that time period.

It's cool to be close to the end. Of this pass, anyway!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nobody by Creston Mapes

I'm trying to remember how I first met Creston Mapes. *Met* being one of those words we use for folks we kinda know on the internet. I know I've mentioned his books a time or two on this blog, and we've corresponded on and off via email.

Nobody is his third book, and the first one I've had in my hands and read. Yeah I know I just said I've known him for awhile. His other two books, Dark Star and Full Tilt are books about a rock star and are aimed at young male readers. And while I've wanted to support Creston's work, apparently that didn't go so far as to buy novels for young men (sorry to the young guys in my life...). When Nobody became available to me as part of the book tours, I jumped at the chance to read one of his books for myself.

The book arrived and I opened the package with delight. A great looking cover--too bad it doesn't match the story! The dead body isn't discovered out in the middle of the street at all. I flipped the book over to read the back:

When reporter Hudson Ambrose hears an early morning call on his police scanner about an injured person at a bus stop on Las Vegas Boulevard, he rushes to the scene to get the scoop.

His world is blown off its axis when he discovers a murdered homeless man with a bankbook in his pocket showing a balance of almost one million dollars. Should he wait for the police, knowing the case will get lost in reams of red tape, or swipe the bankbook and take the investigation--and perhaps a chunk of the money--into his own hands?

With sirens bearing down on the scene, Hudson makes an impulse decision that whisks him on a frantic search for answers, not only about the mysterious dead man, but about the lost soul lurking within himself.

Uncovering bizarre links between a plane crash, a Las Vegas pit boss, a dirty cop, and a widowed Atlanta business mogul, Hudson is forced to find out: who was Chester Holte, what was he doing on the streets, and why are his homeless friends convinced he was an angel in disguise?

Fantasy or science fiction this is not, but it sounds interesting nonetheless. Besides, Creston is an almost friend of mine. I settle in to read the first couple chapters. Here are the opening paragraphs, because I know you expect to see them by now:

I'd seen stiffs at crime scenes before, one flat on his back in the middle of his garage with a twelve-inch meat cleaver sticking straight up out of his rib cage like a Halloween prank; self-inflicted, to boot.

But this one beat all.

I got there before the cops. Saw the guy from my Mustang GT. It was 5:54 a.m.

He was positioned upright at one of the dozens of covered bus stops along the Strop. Beneath flickering fluorescents, it looked as if he was just sleeping, like a thousand other bums scattered like garbage across the sand-blown outskirts of "fabulous Las Vegas." I rolled down my passenger window and leaned closer. Blood, dark like burgundy wine, but thicker--a pool of it, absorbed into the seat of his pants and ran shiny down the concrete block he was perched on, forming another smaller puddle beneath his black Converse high tops.

Creston's got great voice, and it only gets better. Most of the novel is from the first-person viewpoint of the reporter, Hudson Ambrose. Quite a few chapters are from the first-person viewpoint of Holly Queens. And several chapters are from the first-person viewpoints of random other people in the story. Well I guess not random! What I found interesting about this technique is that there is no warning of whose head we're in now, and yet it only takes a few sentences to figure it out. So it's odd, but it definitely works.

Something else I found intriguing is that this novel is unabashedly Christian and it really works. I've read a few where the *Christian* part really felt tacked on. Not the case with Nobody. If you're interested in a novel that challenges you to think about homeless people in a new light, to see corruption and greed fight for supremacy, and are curious at all about the Christian faith, I'd highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Gathering threads

After a busy Thanksgiving weekend I'm back at work today with all the crazy people who want their floors replaced yesterday. Or by next week at the latest. Right.

I'm done the read-through of the 88K or so that Marks of Repentance is in this current draft and have begun making a list of the threads that need to be drawn tighter. Some of the scenes between here and the end will still work with minor modifications. Others will need to be totally rewritten. I'm beginning to get the feel for what needs doing, and I didn't drop any threads at all to this point, though I did weave one in a little tighter during this read-through. If the customers would now only give me a little more time to focus down on the story, I should be only a few days from the end. Which means that I hope to be done in October!

I've also got first drafts of query letter and synopsis completed and know I have a lot of work to do on those. A little scary to be contemplating that step.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Birthday to...

my baby girl. I gotta say, it doesn't seem THAT long since I brought the snugglebug home from the hospital. Go on over and wish her a happy day! She's working ten hours today at two different jobs, so it'll be a long one.

As for me, I'm reading through Marks of Repentance. It is a strange mix of being better than I thought and worse than I'd hoped. Sigh. Those first three chapters are over-worked, and yet...I've thought of what I hope will be a punchier arrangement of opening scenes. Again. But it has to wait til I get through the end. I'm watching my threads carefully on this read through to make sure I didn't drop any. So far so good.

Monday, October 01, 2007


You no longer need to call on me when you want a page checked out for loading speed on dial-up! FINALLY we have joined the twenty-first century and the great revolution called BroadBand internet. Most incredible. Makes the cable at work look slow. But I don't think I'll start complaining about that just yet.