Monthly Archives: December 2008

A Confession – of Sorts

I write this entry for the singular purpose of not doing what I need to do.

Just shy of two months, my manuscript (or at least the first three chapters) needs to be ready to present to prospective publishers attending the Writing for the Soul Conference in Colorado Springs.

Procrastinating to the end of the line is so typical of me. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t wait until the last minute to complete a project.

Heck, I so despised studying in school, I developed a photographic memory. However, I studied the teachers to determine what they considered important enough to include on their tests. Sneaky? Perhaps, but it saved time, and I passed my classes with – in general – minimal effort.

Writing well, however, requires study. There are no shortcuts. Luckily studying requires reading, something I enjoy. It’s not a waste of time. I need to not only read about writing, but read other writers of every genre, and in multiple time periods. My dedication to these endeavors has dropped significantly, but I still absorbed a few things. Must be remnants of my photographic memory.

In editing one more time, I found parts that need a complete rewrite, not only an edit.

Good thing?

Long term, absolutely.

Short term, not so much. I want to procrastinate more, but darn it, I don’t have the time. 

Don’t Take My Word for It

One advantage to writing a blog is my complete control. I can write anything I want including brag about how good my book is, and hope you buy it based on my opinion alone.

As a reader, though, it’s not always wise to spend money based on the author’s braggadocio (great word, huh?). After all, what do you expect authors to say about their books? That they’re crap? Hardly, unless they don’t want to sell many copies.

When I published through Booksurge, I could have added onto the package reviews by Kirkus Discoveries starting at $399. I decided not to based mostly on the cost. I didn’t think my little novella warranted such an authoritative review. If I published a full-length novel, however, I might have considered it.

Besides, four people have reviewed my book so far — and for free!

A fellow author kindly made hers public, so you no longer have to take my word alone that my book is pretty darned good.

You can read it here:  LKHunsaker’s Review

If you haven’t purchased a book yet, she’s holding a raffle with my book as a prize along with many others. All proceeds go to a program designed to help our injured veterans, but again, don’t take my word for it. Read all about it HERE.

Wrenching in the Wrenches

For a story to grab a reader and keep them reading, the writer needs to throw in a bunch of what I call wrenches. They destroy a smooth ride and make it rough and unpredictable. Scary, too, because the reader (and the writer sometimes) doesn’t know if everyone will be tossed off a cliff at any moment.

That’s why we read. We don’t want a smooth ride. We want our world and perceptions shaken, our emotions played with, to experience fear, frustration, joy, laughter, anticipation and terror — and all without leaving our couch or favorite comfy chair.

It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I’ve edited my manuscript (now upwards of sixteen; I’ve lost count). Given enough time, I find a way to toss in another wrench or two. While it doesn’t change the story so much it needs a complete rewrite, my book continues to be one hell of a ride (even if it frustrates me more often than not).

I won’t be writing many entries since I’ve tossed in another wrench into my story. At least not until mid-February when my book needs to once again be as polished as my current writing ability will allow.

Christian Fiction – The Fuzzy Genre

Kara asked in the last entry:

Now I have a question too – do  you have a first draft of the whole trilogy done already?

The complete trilogy is not finished. So far the first two installments only. I hesitate to tackle the third at this point for two reasons.

1.    It’s going to be huge! Though it’s still fuzzy and I’ve written no outline as yet, I know with the number of characters created so far (and they are many), introductions of characters not yet conceived, a large plot and many subplots, I anticipate the last book to add up to over 200,000 words. The second book already sits at 130,000 words, and I know I can’t thin it down any more with subsequent drafts.

2.    When I finally find a publisher, who knows what sort of changes they will require prior to publication? I don’t want to write a massive book and end up having to start over because the first two books changed so drastically.  

Doug asked a question as well:

I was wondering if you could explain what Christian Speculative Fiction is. I understand the speculative fiction part but does the work have to include a Christian message or does it mean no cursing, sex, etc.?

In truth, Christian fiction should be considered a sub-genre because it’s so difficult to define. We after all, don’t question whether a book is a western, science fiction, chick-lit or fantasy.

How then do we define Christian fiction? It does need to contain a Christian world-view whether it’s a fantasy, western, et al, or a message consistent with scripture and Biblical teachings (and that alone can vary so wildly it’ll make your head spin). And yet, the message doesn’t need to be overtly Christian where the main characters either turn to Christ or strengthen their faith in the end.

In the end, what makes the book Christian is the target audience.

My books, however, I want all people to read, not Christians alone. I label mine Christian because I want the reader to know it contains an overt Christian world-view before they read it.

Much – if not all – labeled Christian fiction does shy away from graphic sex and cursing. Ironic and a bit strange, since many show murder and other people-to-people cruelty even from the protagonists (my books included). Why is murder okay, but not cursing? Isn’t murder worse? I never quite understood that.

Sex I don’t have a problem with as long as it’s not graphic. It’s not the ‘sinful’ aspect of it per-se (when it happens outside of marriage), but a matter of allowing the readers’ imagination to fill in the blanks.

The same goes for cursing. If I am to let my characters be themselves, swearing must be allowed from those who would do so naturally.

For example, the captain of a ship will not say, “Oh, darn, the ding-a-ling pirates are attacking us again.”

It’s not only dishonest, but it sounds plain silly. I’ve read Christian books that have similar dialogue and it makes me wince every time.

Still, to refrain from profanity is a matter of respect, because most readers of Christian fiction don’t expect profanity any more than they want to read graphic sex scenes.

Yet there are ways of showing the cursing without spelling out the specific words.

Here’s an example in my first book (still in need of editing, but you’ll get the point):

The small, highly maneuverable ships buzzed around the now stationary cargo ship, staying just outside her weapons’ lock. Armed to the teeth, the Marauders fired on them indiscriminately.

At least that’s how it seemed at first. After watching several minutes, Kallie discerned a method to their attack. While half the squadron drew Maverick’s fire, the other half zoomed in closer and concentrated on the rear section in an effort to take out her engines and shields.

Maverick shuddered and the lights dimmed.

"They’ve taken out our shields, Captain," Nate said.

Kallie raised her eyebrows at the string of expletives exploding out of Captain Navek.

"Tell the batteries to concentrate their fire on the closest ships," he said. "They’ll attempt to attach and cut through the hull. I want every person armed and ready."

Luckily newer labeled Christian fiction is more edgy. As I said before, people are tiring of feel-good books, and want the characters and the challenges they face to be more raw – more natural. The reader wants to relate to the characters and their circumstances, and that can’t happen if everything is pure and perfect.

Winners announced, and a question answered

The contest is ended and the winners chosen! You can see it all on the Contest Page.

Thank you to all who entered. It means a lot that you would want to read my book (free or not).

Change o’ subject.

Doug asked in my previous entry if I’m writing a sequel.

"A Reason to Hope" is an offshoot of the sequal to my trilogy, believe it or not. The two main characters appeared in the sequel as secondary characters. Their relationship intrigued me enough I wanted to tell their story.

I’m in the (I hope) final draft of my first novel to take with me to The Christian Writers Guild conference in February. I found two publishers who might be interested in my chosen genre of Christian science fiction. 

If nothing results from the conference I will pound the pavement for other agents and publishers.

One publisher in particular looks promising: Marcher Lord Press. It’s a new company that seeks specifically Christian science fiction/fantasy/speculative fiction novels.

As with everything, there are no guarantees.

I will, of course, keep you apprised as to my progress with my writing as well as my publishing endeavors.

I muchly appreciate you taking this journey with me.