Monday, December 27, 2010
And so you know something of the story: Two linguists follow a trail of clues described in an 800-year old letter which purports to reveal the final resting place of Jesus’ cross, only to find themselves battling against time, hired mercenaries, and each other. They soon discover that the most important struggle of their lives is not around them, but from within, testing their beliefs, their ethics, and their growing love for one another.
The link to the site is: http://www.ellechorpublishing.com/purchase-books.cfm
Check it out and see if this is a book you'd enjoy reading.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Let me say at the outset that of all the novels I have read in my life, When the Sky Fell is not my favorite Christian speculative fiction story. There have been others I have enjoyed more. Why then would I share with all of you this particular book as one worthy of a review in comparison to those other books? The reason is quite simple. When the Sky Fell was the first novel I ever published, and will always hold a special place in my heart because of this.
Like most first-time authors, the journey to get the book published was a long and arduous one. Twenty-eight years in fact. There were innumerable rewrites during this time, writing conferences that produced zero results, a whole stack of rejection letters to show for my efforts, and an indomitable belief it would one day be published, despite all evidence to the contrary. In fact, I was very close to giving up my dreams of being a published author. I figured I didn't have what it took. Rather than just quit, I decided to give it one last try and offer a co-authorship to Brandon Barr, an author I had recently met online at the time, if he agreed to rewrite the entire novel. Because I was so close to the project I could no longer see it objectively anymore, the proverbial not being able to see the forest from the trees problem. Happily, he agreed to tackle this difficult project, and did a very good job of trimming down excess verbiage, tightening the characters, and giving the story much needed focus. The end result was Silver Leaf Books agreeing to publish our newly polished novel.
It is difficult to share with you just what it was like reading that e-mail from the managing editor at Silver Leaf. They were words I had waited years to hear. They actually wanted to publish my novel. It was a dream born of God many years before that was going to become a reality. Unknown to me at the time, there were many more trials and travails still awaiting me, which ultimately delayed publishing the story for another two years, but at that moment, I felt like a published author, and someone in the publishing industry also felt the same way about my story and was willing to take a financial risk on it. That is a feeling that will remain with me for the rest of my life. It's like the old adage, "You never forget your first love." For the author, it's, "You'll never forget your first acceptance."
As to the story itself, I had initially written it before I committed my life to Christ. It was your typical space opera--big, bad aliens are coming to destroy the Earth, and we have to figure out a way of stopping them before we're wiped out. There were a few years when I didn't do much with the story, and it was at this time that I committed my life to Jesus. As I slowly began to understand that God desires we give every area of our lives over to Him, He slowly began to impress upon me the same applied to When the Sky Fell. It didn't take long for me to figure out that I needed to go back and rewrite the entire story. To make a very long story short, cutting out many, many years along the way, I turned your typical alien invasion adventure into one that was a Biblical allegory based on the life of Paul the Apostle.
I had come to understand that everything I do for God, including the stories He inspired me to write, should be designed to honor Him, and/or help others have a better understanding of who He is. Or was Brandon and I wrote in our manuscript proposal:
Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
As a result of Man’s fall in the garden, the devil succeeded in severing humanity’s relationship with the Father. He, on the other hand, because of His great love for us, had a plan to restore that broken relationship—through the atoning death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ. But the road to reach the Father is often a difficult one, with setbacks and diversions, often crafted by the devil himself.
Such is the difficult journey of one man, Commander Frank Yamane. Using the details of Paul’s life and teachings as the foundation of this story, the reader is taken on a trip where the cosmological battle between good and evil is played out right before his eyes, with the fate of the human race hanging in the balance. Like Paul, Frank Yamane believes he can fulfill what he had been destined to do apart from the will of God. The result is the death of millions, and the future of humanity hanging in the balance.
As to what the story is specifically about, we also included this summary in our proposal:
The year is 2217, and Commander Frank Yamane is the captain of the stellar cruiser, Corona, stationed at Saturn’s moon, Titan. Having been in the military for most of his life, he is a battle-hardened man who has experienced a series of personal tragedies, including the loss of his beloved wife, Liana. The inability to prevent her death has left him feeling guilt-ridden, and plagued with doubts regarding his ability to lead others. It is these same experiences, however, that have also prepared him for when humanity needs him most—when an alien race known as the Deravans attack the earth without mercy. Knowing he cannot stop them alone, Yamane has no choice but to seek the assistance of an enemy he helped defeat in a war ten years before. The problem is—Commander Yamane knows they have every reason not to come to Earth’s rescue.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts about my first published novel. It's not my favorite in terms of stories I've read. And I guess in a sense it could never be. When you read a story for the first time, especially one that captures your imaginations, it is like you are transported into another reality, and you enjoy the ride as you go. For stories you toil over for months or years, writing and rewriting a character's dialogue, dropping those elements that don't work, even though they are beautifully written, the awe and wonder produced by a well-crafted tale presented to you by another isn't possible. But that's okay. It's like I said before, When the Sky Fell will always be special for me because it was my first.
If you are curious about which stories deemed as the best by those who are also participating in the Blog Tour, simply click any one of their names below.
Thomas Clayton Booher
Morgan L. Busse
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Rachel Starr Thomson
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Have you ever wondered why certain books get published and why others don't. How is it that some authors whose literary skills leave something to be desired, yet that writer's books keep landing on your local bookstore shelf. While at the same time, writers who have spent years honing their craft can't seem to catch a break, and wallow in obscurity. It doesn't seem fair, and it's not.
I recently came across an article written by R.L. Copple that makes some sense of this great inequity. He graciously allowed me to post it on my blogsite to share with others. I hope you find it as compelling and enlightening as I did.
Title: Why Publishers Run With The Crowd
by R.L. Copple
From the publisher's standpoint, what they are most concerned about is making enough money to stay in business. Being a bookkeeper, I know it often comes down to "How can we pay the bills this month?" "Will we have enough?" And the whole business revolves around staying alive even if the vision statement has loftier goals.
So publishers look at what's selling and hook up with that bandwagon. No one wants to be left out of the gravy train. And editors looking for the next big seller are given the task to see what the trends are in publishing, and buy what is selling.
Just like a bookstore owner isn't going to keep a book on the shelf forever if it doesn't sell. He may buy one or two copies of a book that sells once every three to six months, but if a book becomes hot, you can bet he'll have several copies on the shelf.
Film is even worse on the lemming effect. You don't see many original made-for-movie scripts. Dreamworks seems to be one of the few actually doing totally new stuff on a regular basis. Everyone else is doing either remakes or an adaptation of a book. And it's why when you see one superhero movie make big bucks and is well liked, like Spiderman or Ironman, you'll see several superhero movies follow, including sequels to those movies.
So naturally an editor is going to be looking for what is selling. Being original, unique, a totally different story, while that might be good, is a much bigger risk to the publisher. Occasionally one of those will become the next J.K. Rowling, but many more bomb and die a horrible death, costing the publisher a lot of money that they don't get a return on.
It's akin to medical research. It takes money to fail, try again, fail again, try again, and fail again, until they finally have a solution that works. The publisher relies on the books that will be fairly safe bets to generate some actual income so they have the funds to seek out that unique voice in the hopes of not following a trend, but starting one, which can be very lucrative when they do find the next big author.
So the bigger number of slots go to the what's selling, and the few slots they have for the riskier purchases from a very competitive field. You have to convince the publisher that your book is the one they should risk thousands of dollars on. Not an easy task, especially when there are so many vying for that spot.
Now, that's the publisher/editor side of the equation. For the author, do they only write what sells? They could. But what I've felt, and Dean Wesley Smith has confirmed this (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/), is to write what you want to write, then go out and find that publisher willing to take that risk on you. It may take sending out many queries and manuscripts for years, but your concern isn't so much to make the publisher money (though you hope you do because if that's the case, you'll make money as well, and most importantly, that means a lot of people are reading your book), but to write the story burning in your heart to be written.
I've always figured if I'm not excited about a story, very few others will be either because it will come out in my writing. I've done that before, and agree the writing felt flatter. The more I've tried to write what I thought a publisher might want, generally the less compelling and interesting the story--there have been notable exceptions as always. I write better and my stories are more interesting when an idea hits me and I get excited over it, and it has to be written.
So I'm realizing over the past few months that I should write when I get that excitement. There may be times in the future that I have to fill a deadline, so I can't wait for that, but generally, how I feel about what I'm writing will come out in the story. So if I want something exciting and interesting, I have to feel that way myself about the story. If I don't feel that way, it's best to sit back and mull it over until I do get that angle or plot element or character that makes it fun.
So I'll write that way, and then go find a publisher who will publish it. An author isn't an editor, and we shouldn't write as if we are editors. Making money is their concern. Writing the story that is in our hearts is ours. That's how I look at it, anyway.
But the bottom line is, yes, your story will then often not be what they are looking for, won't fit their list which they have determined they need to fill, and a slew of other reasons. All that means is your query/story didn't capture their interest and attention long enough to hook them in. You'll get many more of those than not, unless your story happens to be what is hot right now. Expect it.
That's where the indie presses have a leg up. They are usually shooting for nitchier markets. They are more willing to take the risk becuase their cost to publish is much lower, so a failure isn't nearly as horrible on the bottom line. They have more freedom to experiment. So it tends to be easier to get your foot in the door with one of them, especially when your story doesn't fit into whatever the standards the bigger publishers are looking for, or deem is appropriate.
The cool thing is when what you really want to write is also what's hot. If the writing is good, and the story and characters well played, you'll have an easier time of connecting, and who knows, might be able to hitch your wagon to the gravy train too. But I'd leave the "what's selling" to the publishers to figure out and write what you want, then find someone who will buy it. If you want to start a trend, it means swimming upstream. No sense lamenting that fact, just dig in and swim for all you're worth.
R.L. Copple's interests in speculative fiction started at an early age, after reading "Runaway Robot" by Lester Del Ray. Many others followed by Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein, Tolkien, C.S. Lews, among others. He has written for religious purposes but started writing speculative fiction in 2005. Infinite Realities marks his first book, a fantasy novella. His second book, first full length novel, Transforming Realities hit the shelves March 2009. He has been published in several magazines. More info can be found at the author's website, http://www.rlcopple.com/.