January 31, 2012

The Avenir Eclectia Soundtrack!


you've read and enjoyed the stories of Avenir Eclectia...

you've found yourself intrigued by the planet the universe forgot...

you love the cool, sleek, pristine sound of space music...

... it's here!
The Avenir Eclectia soundtrack, by composer Michael L. Rogers, is now available to order on CD and, coming soon, MP3! Watch for it on Amazon in the next few days, or Click Here to order it now from Createspace!

If you're not familiar with the awesome music of Avenir Eclectia, Click Here listen to a few of the songs from the soundtrack on YouTube. There's nothing like good music to bring a story to life, and this is one soundtrack no sci-fi fan will want to miss!

January 27, 2012

Conversation with Mary and Maricossa

Hey everyone! H.A. Titus, a dear friend of mine, as well as one of my co-authors on Falls the Shadow, has graciously allowed me to be a guest on her blog, Magical Ink. Originally she asked me to interview my character Maricossa from Falls the Shadow, but... well, Maricossa had other ideas. It ended up more along the lines of him interviewing me. He did come up with some great questions, though, about what it's like to live with fictional characters. I guess he would know, since he is a fictional character.
Anyway, if you'd like to read my conversation with Maricossa, click on over to Magical Ink for a visit. And if you have any additional questions for me or Maricossa, feel free to ask. : )

January 23, 2012

The Resurrection and the Wardrobe - "There are only 3 possibilities."

"Logic!" said the Professor half to himself. "Why don't they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn't tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and until any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth."

Over the last couple of weeks my Sunday School teacher, Dave, has been talking about apologetics; specifically, evidence for the resurrection. This week's discussion focused on the five hundred+ people who saw Jesus following His resurrection, before His ascension.
Skeptics are willing to concede the fact that the disciples and others did have some kind of experience with someone they believed to be Jesus, after He had been killed. However, they don't consider the accounts to be accurate.
Dave pointed out that there are only three possibilities concerning the encounters people claimed to have had with Jesus after His death:

1. Everyone who claimed to have seen Jesus was lying.

2. Everyone who believed they had seen Jesus was either hallucinating or dreaming.

3. The people who said they had seen Jesus were telling the truth.

The notion that these people were all lying makes no sense. Look at the political scandals and cover-ups throughout history. There is always a leak somewhere. Humans are simply not good at keeping secrets under any circumstances - let alone when they're being hunted and tortured and killed as the early Christians were. If the encounters with Jesus were lies, someone would have spilled the beans.

The idea that all 500 people were hallucinating or dreaming also makes no sense. One night, a few years ago, my dad and I both dreamed that our great-aunt had passed away. It was kind of spooky, both of us dreaming the same thing on the same night. But, even though the basic dream was the same, the details were all different. And it was only two of us, not five hundred. No way are five hundred people all going to have the exact same dream or hallucination where all the details agree.

So logically, Dave concluded, we have to assume that the early Christians were telling the truth.

Hmm... I thought. I've heard that somewhere before!
While it's a well-known fact that C.S. Lewis was a theologian and apologist in addition to being a writer, we don't always notice how one bleeds into another. The Professor's conclusion that Lucy is telling the truth about finding a magical country inside a wardrobe is an essential part of the story, forcing Peter and Susan to consider for the first time the possibility of something they regarded as incredible. But it's also an example of great apologetics, a lesson to be learned.
Peter and Susan still weren't convinced by the irrefutable logic of the Professor's argument, and all the evidence and logic in the world isn't going to convince someone who isn't willing to accept the resurrection. That's the job of the Holy Spirit.
Aslan eventually convinced Peter and Susan by letting them through the wardrobe into Narnia. The Professor didn't have to convince them that it was real. He simply told them what he knew, and let Aslan do the rest. Our job isn't to convince an unbeliever, it's simply to tell them what we know and let the Holy Spirit show them the way through the wardrobe door, if they're willing to be shown.
For me, it's lessons like this - gems embedded so deeply into the story that they often go unnoticed - that set a truly great work of Christian fiction apart. For me, whose writing role model is C.S.Lewis, it's awesome to be able to see his beliefs and apologetics techniques at work even in his fiction, and it's my hope that my own writing will be influenced and sculpted by my faith in the way Lewis' was.
And the next time someone asks me how I know the resurrection really happened, I might just have to casually sit back and say "That is a point which certainly deserves considerations; very careful considerations..." (I wonder if I could pull it off without a British accent!)
Afterwards, I'll make myself a cup of tea and muse about "What do they teach them at these schools?"

What do you think sets a great work of fiction apart from the pack?
Do you have a writing role model?

January 20, 2012

Favorite Movie/TV Quotes

I'm sure by now most of my followers know that I love collecting quotes. I get them everywhere, so I thought I'd share some of my personal favorites with you all! I thought about doing a post of my favorite quotes in general... but I realized that was way too broad of a category, so I narrowed it down to TV and movie quotes. I catch them everywhere - I can walk past a TV that's playing a movie I'm not even watching, and as I walk by hear a great quote that I just have to add to my quote book. So here are a few of my favorites.


"I will use all my powers of persuasion. If that doesn't work I'll hit her in the head."
~ Bob Brown, from 'The Unit'

"I seen your Adam's apple bobbin' up and down, and that's how I knowed you was singin' opera."
~Gomer Pyle, from 'Gomer Pyle'

"I don't make things complicated, that's just the way they get, all by themselves."
~ -unknown character- from 'Lethal Weapon'

"I find that smuggling is the life for me, and I would be happy to kill your friend the maggot."
~Edmond Dantes, from 'The Count of Monte Cristo'

"'Eccentric' means 'loopy with money'."
~Bob the Tomato, from 'Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Samson's Hairbrush'

"Adventures are never fun when you're having them."
~Sharona Flemming, from 'Monk'

"Thanks for helping me and for... spitting on me."
~Clifford, from 'Wild Hearts Can't be Broken'

"I would like to think that, given the circumstances, I've been extremely forgiving up 'til now."
~Mike Wazowski, from 'Monsters Inc.'

"You keep using that word..."
~Inigo Montoya, from 'The Princess Bride'

What is your favorite movie or TV quote?

January 18, 2012

The Enduring Appeal of Zombies

Recently, I received an email with the following question:

I would like to read your opinion (and the opinion of your followers) on the enduring fiction of the zombie.
Why does it endure?
How does it maintain a sizable subset of fringe culture?
What is its appeal?
Thank you for your consideration of this topic.
~Zombie Hater

I thought it was an interesting question. Personally, I am not a fan of the zombie trend at all, and had never been able to understand the appeal they hold for so many people, so I had never given it much thought. However, since zombies do have a considerable presence in the world of speculative fiction, I decided it was worth looking into.
I've done a great deal of online research as well as talking to several different people about it, but unfortunately there are few people willing to field explanations as to the reason for the un-dead monster's popularity.
I did hear and discover some interesting theories, though, so I thought I'd share them and let you all decide for yourselves.

- One theory is that in the case of zombie movies or video games, one can experience the adrenaline rush of action and combat without worrying about the moral or emotional implications of killing another human being.

I suppose that, since zombies are supposed to be dead bodies that have been somehow reanimated, this is a legitimate point. If the person is already technically dead, you really wouldn't be 'killing' them. And, while we as humans do have a God-given right to defend ourselves from attackers (even if defending ourselves involves the use of lethal force) there is still a huge emotional cost that comes with taking another human life. I suppose, then, that using lethal force against some kind of freakish monster like a zombie would eliminate some of that cost.
So this theory does, perhaps, explain the appeal of fighting against inhuman monsters rather than against human beings. But it leaves the question: why zombies specifically? Why not trolls or orcs or Sasquatches? And of course the implications of experiencing the "rush" of combat and killing for enjoyment is an entirely separate issue.

- Another more philosophical theory is that a culture's or people group's real fears are represented and reflected in its fictional fears. For instance, one person I talked to suggested that Godzilla was originally a symbol of the atomic bomb in Japan. Likewise, early zombie-era zombies were a symbolic representation of people's fear of radiation and nuclear war. Today, they represent people's fear of terrorism.

I've seen plenty of evidence to suggest that the 'zombie' concept is indeed symbolic. The phrase 'For When the Zombies Come' has come to represent a mindset of general awareness and preparedness (e.g. I'm doing physical fitness or weapons training 'For When the Zombies Come'; I keep extra food and supplies on hand 'For When the Zombies Come'), especially as disaster preparedness becomes more popular in our culture.
In addition, I do find it rather interesting to notice that the zombies portrayed in the earlier days of the trend were slow, lethargic creatures that killed people simply by being absolutely everywhere in inescapable numbers. I can see where this could coincide with the radiation/nuclear war concept (i.e. if a nuclear weapon was detonated, radiation would be everywhere in inescapable amounts). Also interesting to me is the fact that the zombies of today have become more fast, agile, and aggressive; they could pop up anywhere unexpectedly, and even a lone zombie could pose a serious threat to someone. This would tend to correspond with people's fear of terrorism; a single terrorist could pop up in any given location and, with little effort, kill or injure dozens if not hundreds of people before anyone could stop him.
So I understand the reasoning in this theory as well. But, like the first theory I mentioned, it still leaves the question: why zombies rather than some other kind of monster? In answer to that, I have my own theory.

- The idea of heroes battling hideous and terrible monsters is thousands of years old. Even the most ancient cultures had hero-versus-monster legends and stories they loved. And with each new culture or era come new trends in how those heroes and monsters are represented. In the days of ancient Greece the trend was for cursed humans or demigods to be turned into horrible monsters. In the days of King Arthur dragons and sorcerers were the trend. In the days of the wild West, it was savage, scalp-hunting Indians. It's entirely possible that zombies are simply today's monster of choice.

I have heard recently that there are people who really believe the government is experimenting and actually trying to create zombies. For what purpose, I have no idea, but if it's true that some people believe this, I suppose their apparent fascination with zombies could stem from this belief. In my personal opinion, watching zombie movies and reading zombie books as preparation is comparable to reading Jane Austen to learn how to get married. Just because it happens one way in Hollywood doesn't mean it'll happen that way in real life.
However, if there is a portion of society that believes in the scientific possibility of zombies, I suppose it makes sense that movie, book, or video game presentations of this would be marketable.
Do zombies have a place in Christian fiction? Truthfully, I don't know. Personally, I find them completely unappealing and have no interest whatsoever in movies or books built on that theme, but I know Christians who have read and enjoyed zombie fiction. I would encourage Christians to make careful, prayerful decisions about their reading and movie-viewing choices in regards to this topic just as they would with any other topic.

Zombie Hater, while I'm afraid this probably hasn't answered all the aspects of your question entirely, I hope it has at least shed a little light on it and given you some possibilities to think about. Thanks for the question, though! You've made me investigate and learn about a topic I hadn't really given any thought to before.

For the record, anyone can send me their questions, thoughts, or ideas by using the contact form at the top of the right-hand sidebar on this page. I'd love to see more thoughtful discussion starters like this one!

What are your thoughts on the zombie trend?
(P.S. My Blogger account hasn't been allowing me to post comments the last week or so, so my apologies to those of you who have commented that I haven't replied to.)