December 20, 2012

Best Reads of 2012 (In my humble opinion.)

I've never done one of these posts before, and in all honesty it's making me very nervous since I'm absolutely positive I'll overlook a fabulous read that deserves mention. But, here goes anyway.
*Please note* Just because a title is listed under Best of 2012 does not mean necessarily that it was published in 2012. I just happened to read it in 2012. Enjoy!

Category 1: Non-Fiction
Title: Fearless - The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown
Author: Eric Blehm
Genre: Military/Biography
Publisher: Waterbrook
Pages: 253
Why is it a Best Read? This book made me laugh, made me mad enough to punch somebody, and brought me to tears. The story it tells is beyond inspiring, it is powerful. Every American adult should read this book. Period. Click Here to read my full review.

Category 2: Fiction
Title: The Legend of the Firefish
Author: George Bryan Polivka
Genre: Christian Fantasy
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Pages: 347
Why is it a Best Read? This book hooked me at page 1 and didn't let go for a minute. The fantasy world created by the author is very unique, full of depth and color. While a bit dark at times, the story nonetheless contains glimmers of unmistakeable light sure to intrigue the Christian reader. If you like Pirates of the Caribbean, you will love The Legend of the Firefish. Click Here to read my full review.

Category 3: Humor
Title: They Shoot Canoes, Don't They?
Author: Patrick F. McManus
Genre: Outdoor/Humor
Publisher: Owl Publishing
Pages: 228
Why is it a Best Read? You can always count on Pat McManus for hearty laughs and unforgettable stories, but this book is the best one of his I've read since A Fine and Pleasant Misery. It had my entire family rendered helpless, laughing so hard none of us could breathe, much less move. I think 'Sneed' was my favorite story of all the ones in this book - the author's hilarious recollections of the game warden he lived in fear of as a child. Click Here to read my full review.


I'm going to be taking a break from blogging for the next several days. I want to really relax and enjoy my time with family to the fullest, so I'm eliminating any and all distractions I possibly can. I may post again at the end of next week, or I may not be back until after the first of the year, we'll just have to see.

So until then, have a blessed and very merry Christmas!

December 17, 2012

Movie Review - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey! (And a Giveaway)

*Warning: May Contain Spoilers! If you're interested in the giveaway, but don't want to read the review, just scroll down until you see bold font.*

While I wasn't able to go to the midnight premier as I had originally hoped, I was able to go see The Hobbit on its second day in theaters. Definitely the earliest I have ever gotten to see a newly-released movie. I hope I don't get uppity...
But enough of that! I'm sure you're all dying to hear my erudite and witty opinions of the film, right? (Or, more truthfully, I've already exhausted my entire family with my ravings and swoonings and shriekings and carryings-on and just need someone new to blather to.)
So here goes:

I was rather uneasy about the whole idea of The Hobbit being made into a trilogy of movies, and apparently my unease was shared by quite a few people. But after seeing An Unexpected Journey, I am no longer worried in the least.
There was quite a lot of filling in and fleshing out done, with a few additions that weren't in the book, but in my opinion it didn't harm the story in the least. (Like the air raid scene at the beginning of the movie The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - it just helped ground the story and set up a rich, well-developed stage.) And, it's going to make for an absolutely fabulous trilogy of movies!
Much of the additional material ('additional' meaning 'not in the book') was for the purpose of setting The Hobbit up more solidly as the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, making it a little easier for viewers to see how events are leading up to the War of the Ring. There were plenty of fun references and remarks included, too, that are only meaningful if you've seen the Lord of the Rings movies or read the books, which makes it fun.
There were other things added or expanded upon too, most of it for excitement and/or action purposes. For instance: for a resident of Middle Earth, it's perfectly natural that you should have a pack of orcs hunting you for no other reason than you tromped through their territory. But for a movie viewer, it's more exciting if the orc leader has a long-harbored grudge against the leader of your party and is hunting him down for vengeance. As I said earlier, I don't think it harmed the story at all.
I have to say, in spite of how many times I've read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I never really grasped just how cool dwarfs could be. I absolutely love what Peter Jackson and the production team have done with the dwarf characters in this movie (and I'm totally going to have to write a story about dwarfs now!). And of course, the hats must go off to the actors who have done such amazing jobs with their roles!
I have this thing about dark, brooding characters, so naturally Thorin Oakenshield had my full attention from the get-go. But I also love the light-heartedness of the brothers Fili and Kili, which they blend perfectly with their skill as warriors. Oftentimes in characters of that type, one side is overdone while the other is left wanting, or else the transition from 'fun' mode to 'battle' mode seems awkward and unnatural. Not so with these two. They make it perfectly natural, and in fact remind me a little bit of my own brothers. : ) And of course, what's not to love about sweet, unassuming Bilbo Baggins? I love, love, love the honesty and sincerity that Martin Freeman has brought to his character, blended so well with Bilbo's feelings of inadequacy as a member of Thorin's party.
And Bilbo's speech at the end of the movie... one that wasn't in the book but is so good that it could have been... just made my heart melt. Gotta say it.
The cinematography of the movie was just as amazing as it was in the Lord of the Rings movies - sweeping landscapes that leave you totally convinced Middle Earth is a real place that is out there somewhere, panoramic shots of mountains, amazing CGI settings and graphics, and great action shots and sequences. There was just one kind of weird, distracting thing I noticed, when the dwarfs have all been captured by the goblins and the goblin king is taunting Thorin. The camera is cutting back and forth between them during their exchange, but every single time it cuts to Thorin his head is down, and he's slowly raising his eyes to fix the goblin king with a withering glare. Don't get me wrong, he's got glaring down to an art and the whole slowly-raising-his-eyes-which-are-blazing-with-hatred thing made for a great shot... the first time. The third and fourth times, it started getting a little weird. Probably just an editing error, and really nothing that even matters in light of the rest of the movie's sheer and massive epicness, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.
And the soundtrack... oh, the soundtrack! I had chills listening to the dwarfs sing 'Misty Mountains' around Bilbo's hearth, the battle music was amazing, the Ring theme came in at just exactly the right moment, and the Shire theme (also coming in at exactly the right moments) was as heart-tugging and beautifully sweet as ever.

Which brings me to the second part of this post: The Giveaway!
The Ink Slinger is having a giveaway of The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey soundtracks, and you're invited to enter! I'm not familiar with The Dark Knight soundtrack, but it's by Hans Zimmer so it has to be amazing. And I am here to testify that the Hobbit soundtrack is one you will definitely want to add to your collection. So Click Here and get over to the Ink Slinger to enter the giveaway. And if you haven't seen The Hobbit yet, get thee to a theater and do so with all haste!

December 13, 2012

Book Review - 'Resurrect'

Author: David E. Stevens
Genre: Action/Thriller
Publisher: Monarch Books
Pages: 374

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this book when I requested it, since I don't have a lot of experience with this genre. But I have to say, it kept me engaged and intent from the first to the last page. The author doesn't waste a minute getting to life-and-death action, and rarely stops for a minute for the rest of the book.
In all honesty, were it left to me I wouldn't categorize this as a 'Christian' book. Sure, one of the central characters claims to be an 'Evangelical Christian' (though she doesn't exactly behave like one), there are a few references to faith and spiritual issues throughout, and I expect that the author is probably working towards some kind of faith-based conclusion over the course of the trilogy as a whole, but by itself Resurrect comes across more as just a good action/thriller. Not that I have a problem with that, per se, it's just something that I think readers ought to be aware of.
This book was very frank and no-nonsense in presenting the facts, which makes for a very clear and vivid read... though at times it got a little overly frank for my personal tastes. Some parts of it were also a tiny bit over-technical, leaving me feeling a little like a deer in the headlights, but I was always able to follow the important facts of what was happening. (I do have to mention, though, that I was greatly disappointed when the author - who should know better - called a magazine a 'clip'. Ach!)
But on the whole, this book was a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat adventure from start to finish. Let me know when they decide to make the movie! Seriously, in spite of the few overly-frank moments, there was nothing that I considered unclean or indecent - even when one of the characters takes off on a profanity-laced tirade, the author simply says that he 'let loose a string of expletives' without reproducing any of them. You have to admire an author with that kind of taste. And the humor sprinkled throughout the book was absolutely delightful.
I wouldn't recommend the book for young readers; it was definitely intended for an adult audience. And, it did rather end on a cliff hanger. But I've already recommended it to my 21-year-old brother, and personally I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!


I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my review. A favorable review was not required, and my opinions are entirely my own.

'Up Next' - Writer-style Blogger Tag!

I originally came across this list of tag-style questions on the blog of Grace Bridges, and after answering the questions herself she invited others to pick up the baton and do the same. So I am, since it sounded fun and, amazingly, this was one list of questions that I haven't been sent yet.
Here goes:

What is the title of your next book or work?

I'm currently working on two new books, one on my own and one co-authored with my fellow Lost Scribes, but I'll go with my personal work: Empathia's Hope. Bear in mind, this is a working title, subject to change later on.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

A blend of desperate desire to become involved with what was then the just-launched fiction project Avenir Eclectia, a fascination with archaeology, and a weakness for reruns of Secrets of the Dead. I had been trying to think of something to write for AE for a few days when a Secrets of the Dead rerun about the Roman cities Pompeii and Herculaneum (buried by the 79AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius) came on, and it made me realize that on a volcanic planet like Eclectia, there could be lots of buried cities with lots of buried secrets to go with them.

What genre does the book fall under?

'Science Fiction' pretty well covers it, though there may be a slight tincture of Science Fantasy. We'll stick with Science Fiction, though.

What actors/actresses would you choose to play the parts of your characters in a movie rendition?

I have not the first nor faintest idea. I can't really think of any actors or actresses who resemble my characters as I imagine them. I have friends who I've already picked out to play the characters in the book trailer... does that count?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

(Advance warning, I really stink at writing these.)
A young woman made cynical by years of hardship and heartache doesn't appreciate being told by a wealthy celebrity archaeologist that she should look at the bright side of things, and likes it even less when he begins digging up the hopes and dreams she buried long ago.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I take issue with the narrow and restrictive parameters of that question.

How long did it take you to finish the first draft of the manuscript?

Still in progress.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

How about Avenir Eclectia Volume 1? That's a perfect fit! : )

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Michael L. Rogers and his ideas about Empathia, Grace Bridges with her suggestion that I expand what started as a short story series into a full book and her support of me as a writer, my own beliefs about the importance of hope and optimism in bad circumstances, various ideas about relationships familial and otherwise, and the general awesomeness of the Avenir Eclectia world. I love writing there!

What else about the book might pique the readers' interest?

Well, it includes art, history, archaeology, a bit of Indiana-Jones-style mystery (only with fewer chase scenes), a generous sprinkling of Atlantis-esque flavor, some hard truths about love and life and doing the right thing, brushes with telepathic sea life, and touches of humor. So unless you're just a dyed-in-the-wool hater of science fiction/fantasy in general (in which case I would have to ask how you came to be reading this blog), there is something in Empathia's Hope for you!


I think originally this list of questions was supposed to be passed on in the fashion of Blogger tag, but I think that instead of tagging anyone I'm going to follow Grace's example and just extend an open invitation to any writer who wants to participate.
Leave a comment letting me know if you do. I'd love to read your answers!

December 10, 2012

Merry Christmas, Writers!

In the residual wake of NaNoWriMo, we writers could all use a little TLC, right? Well, TLC is just exactly what the gals over at Charlie and Me are giving away.

Hop on over to their blog now and enter to win the Writers' Care Package giveaway. I've been following their blog for some time now, and I can tell you they're a great source of entertainment, encouragement, and good old-fashioned writing fun. So writers, don't miss this giveaway!

December 7, 2012

December 7 - Never Forget

I'm guessing none of us have to be reminded what happened on September 11, 2001. Maybe not all of my readers are old enough to remember it well. Maybe some of you were too young to be allowed to watch the horror unfold live on television. But you all know what happened. You all know the story of an unprovoked attack on American soil that cost the lives of so many American people.

But another date that is equally as important to remember, and yet one that a tragic number of people don't remember, is December 7, 1941 - the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Over 2,000 Americans were killed in the unprovoked attack - the event that led the United States off of the sidelines and onto the stage of World War II. Estimates place the number of American casualties at well over 400,000 over the remaining duration of the war.

I'm not one for dwelling in the past, for holding grudges, or keeping old wounds open. I believe that the past is just that: the past. I am, however, a strong believer in the importance of keeping the things of the past in memory, and learning from them.
I believe in remembering the mistakes, the crimes, the horrors, the victims of the past, so that we can be vigilant in making certain they never happen again.
I believe in remembering the warriors and heroes of the past, so that we can honor their sacrifices as they deserve, so that we can learn from their examples and rise to follow their path.

I have rather recently become a passionate student of World War II. Shortly after I began studying the subject, after getting just a glimpse of the horror that it truly was, I made a personal commitment: that I would be one of the ones to be vigilant, to learn from the horrific examples of the past, and to stand up and do everything in my power to prevent such a thing ever happening again.
World War II - the Holocaust - the deaths of what is roughly estimated to be over 2.5% of the world's population at the time - could have been prevented if ordinary people with wisdom, courage, and foresight would have stood up, opened their mouths, and simply said "No."
And we today have advantages that the ordinary people of the late 1930s didn't have: we have far greater freedom of information to see what is happening in the world around us, and we have the example of the past from which to learn.
Let us never forget the sacrifices and heroism of the brave warriors who have come before us. But more importantly, let us never forget the events that made their sacrifices necessary. Let us never make the same mistakes that would lead us down the same dark path. If we fail to learn from their sacrifices, if they paid with their lives to preserve our freedom, only for us to turn around and forget them a generation later, then their sacrifices were for nothing more than to buy us a bit of time.

Never Forget.

December 4, 2012

NaNoWriMo is over. Now what?

It's a rhetorical question, really. Everyone knows that once NaNoWriMo ends we all just catch up on sleep and then go back to life as normal, right?
Only it doesn't exactly work that way. Because for a writer, the wild and wonderful month of madness that is NaNoWriMo has a direct impact on what constitutes 'normal'.
Before NaNo, we didn't have the novel that we spent the month writing. Now that it's over, we do have it. We've been on a journey, met and come to know characters we didn't know before, experienced an adventure we'd never experienced before, and learned things about ourselves as writers and people that we didn't know before.
Post-NaNo Normal is not the same thing as Pre-NaNo Normal.

So what do we do?
Obviously we can't go back to something that doesn't exist any more, so the thing to do is embrace and dive into what normal has become.

For me this year, Post-NaNo Normal means that the pesky inner editor whom I have been unable to rid myself of since finishing the editing of Son of the Shield back in July, is finally silent and subdued, leaving me free to finish the first draft of my WIP, Empathia's Hope, without her snarky fatalist input harping on every sentence, demanding perfection before allowing me to move on.
It means that I now have a completed first draft of my first independently authored steampunk novel.
I've explored character personality types that I had never explored before, and experimented with story twists I'd never worked with before.
It's opened up new ideas, new ways of looking at stories and characters.
A month of no-editing-allowed has gotten me ready to dive back into my WIP at full throttle and turn a half-finished first draft into a FINISHED first draft in short order. It's reminded me how much fun it really is to just roll with the story's adventure, leaving editing for later.
It's reminded me how much fun it is to just make stuff up and go along with it like it's all part of the plan. It's reminded me that writing was fun before it became work.
And that is something I am more than happy to go back to.

What have you taken away from NaNo2012? What are you looking forward to now that it's done?

December 1, 2012

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

So here is a picture to sum it up:

Yep, I won! In spite of all my own expectations, I managed to hit that magical 50K mark with fourteen whole minutes to spare before the stroke of midnight.
Of course, the story itself is a total disaster and didn't really end, it just stopped - in quite a state of disarray, too.
Thaddeus, Fu-han, and Cole all got suspended from coming to St. George's Academy, while the school authorities try to figure out how they're going to explain away all the unexplainable stuff that has been happening at the school since Reuben Clark's arrival.
Fu-han and Jen must have gotten their issues resolved one way or another. I don't really know, since I don't speak Chinese, but I assume so since they decided to get married.
One of the bad guys died as a result of the fire that almost killed Thaddeus, and the other bad guy is currently recuperating from some rather serious injuries, after which he will be transferred to a cell somewhere and promptly forgotten about. (Unless I need a bad guy from the past to return for a sequel... wait, what am I saying?! No more sequels!)
I seem to have mislaid Lorena Cavitt, the St. George's Academy teacher that Ann Morgan captured after finding out she was an anarchist agent. I put her in Jen Qiao's care in Chapter Seven, but she disappeared after that and hasn't been seen or heard from since. I can only assume that she'll surface eventually.
But, on the whole, I'm perfectly satisfied. I didn't set out on November 1st to write a masterpiece, I set out to write 50,000 words in 30 days, and that's what I did. The editing, rewriting, (and plotting) can come later.
Thanks so much to all of you who dropped by during the month to offer encouragement or just track my progress. It's been fun, and I appreciate every single one of you!
That being said... I am completely exhausted, and why on Earth am I still sitting at a computer pecking on the keyboard? I happen to know that there's a box of butter pecan ice cream in my freezer, and if there were ever a moment when a dish of butter pecan ice cream was needful, I would say it is now. So I am off to set the universe back in balance by doing what needs to be done (i.e., eat a bowl of ice cream). And then I think I'm going to drop into bed and go to sleep... for a very, very long time...
Happy NaNoWriMo 2012, everyone!

November 29, 2012

Journaling, Day 29 of NaNoWriMo

Total Word Count So Far: 40,003

Yes, still behind, but catching up. All I have to do is write 10K words in two days... with one of those days being Friday, my busiest day of the week... okay, so maybe I am in trouble. But I'm not going down without a fight, so we'll see what happens.
At present my story is in complete disarray and I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen next or how it's going to end. My main character Thaddeus is currently out of commission and being nursed back to health by his wife after suffering from some pretty severe smoke inhalation. (We burned down the textile factory after we broke into it. In our defense, it was an accident.) Since he's supposed to be the main character, that leaves the story in a bit of a lurch, especially when one considers the fact that Reuben Clark, the boy Thaddeus and Fu-han are supposed to be protecting, is still missing after being kidnapped by James Wells, who we thought was a good guy but wasn't. So, Thaddeus' current state leaves Fu-han to rescue Reuben with the help of Jen Qiao, the woman who has the connection to his past that neither of them want to tell anyone about.
I'm hoping maybe they'll use the opportunity to work out some of their issues... I just hope they do it in English, since the only words I know in Chinese are their names. I suppose we'll just have to see.
So on that note, I'm off to write.
Oh - but before I forget - today is C.S. Lewis' birthday! If you're like me and woefully behind on NaNo, you probably don't have much time to spend the day celebrating the life of the man I consider one of Christianity's most influential writers (and who is my personal all-time favorite writer). But, I am going to make time today for a nice big cup of Irish Breakfast Tea and re-read a few of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes, since I feel I would be remiss if I did nothing at all to celebrate. I'm currently reading That Hideous Strength, the third book in his Space Trilogy, for the first time too, so maybe I'll take time out from writing to read a chapter or so.

How about you? How has the life and/or work of C.S. Lewis influenced you? Do you have a favorite work or quote of his?

Share it in the comments box! And for those of you frantically struggling to catch up on and finish your NaNo... don't give up!

November 26, 2012

Journaling NaNoWriMo, Day 26

Total Word Count So Far: 31,333

Yes, I am unbelievably far behind. And it has been way too long since I've journaled, so please forgive me.
This November has turned out to be one big hectic roller coaster. In a moment of blind, rash stupidity, I decided that I needed to tear the old carpet out of my room and give the whole thing a thorough deep-clean... in November. *Note to Self: Never, ever undertake a project of this nature in the month of November again!* Then my mom got sick and was down for a few days, which left me in charge of all the normal, routine cooking and housecleaning, on top of the added work of getting ready for Thanksgiving. No sooner did Mom get well than I got sick and was down for three days, so Mom had to cook Thanksgiving dinner all by herself, while I laid on the sofa and got absolutely no writing done.
By the time I got well and was able to open up my NaNo document again, I was 12,000 words behind. Can I get caught up fast enough to still finish on time? I guess we'll see.
As for the story itself, it's taking some crazy and totally unexpected turns. I've had a bit of a hard time dealing with 'quantity over quality', but my main character Thaddeus took it upon himself to call me out into the story and give me a pep talk (yes, I am actually in a scene in the story - blue jeans and all), which helped me get back on track. That's when the surprises started showing up in the story. So far I've discovered that one of the characters, who was supposed to just be a highly annoying good guy, is actually a bad guy. Then this random Chinese girl, Jen, waltzed into the story, and apparently she and my character Fu-han have some pretty intense history that neither of them want to talk about. Thaddeus' wife and sons, who weren't supposed to be actively involved in the story at all have now been dragged out of their home and through the streets of London in the middle of the night to hide out at Jen's house where the bad guy can't find them. Thaddeus' student Cole has developed a major crush on Thaddeus' daughter Ann. At the moment, Thaddeus and Fu-han have broken into a textile factory in search of the leader of the anarchist rebellion. And I, the writer, have absolutely no idea where any of this is going.
With only four days left, though, I'm going to have to hurry and find out!

November 17, 2012

Author Interview - H.A. Titus

Back once again, with one last interview with an author from the Avenir Eclectia anthology. Today we're talking with H.A. (Heather) Titus, whom I've been blessed to have as a personal friend, cohort, and co-author on multiple projects, for several years now.

HA: Hey Mary! Thanks for inviting me over to your cyberspace home. :)
MRP: You know you’re always welcome. ; ) Let’s get started: What first brought you to the world of Avenir Eclectia and got you interested in the project?

HA: I ran across it while browsing the Splashdown Books sites. I thought it sounded like a cool Christian version of the Star Wars universe set-up, where authors all worked together to create a really cool world. Plus, I have a tendency to be wordy, and when I saw that the preferred wordcount was below 400 words, I thought it would be cool to challenge myself.

MRP: What do you consider your unique 'trademark' as a writer, and how does that come through in your Avenir Eclectia stories?

HA: I'd say my unique trademark is bringing characters out of a dark past and into an at least semi-hopeful future. Even if I don't always showcase my beliefs, I always try to bring characters to a place of hope at the end of the story arc. A lot of that comes through Pieter's past as a smuggler/his future as a flight teacher, and the orphans' future in being able to have good jobs. With Reeder, it's in his fear of the supernatural forces that his brother is a part of, and how eventually overcomes that fear.

MRP: I've had so much fun watching you explore the unique way a smuggler and a group of orphans relate to each other. Can you tell us a bit about that (your inspiration, goals, etc.)?

HA: My inspiration for Pieter was, basically, I've always wanted to write a character that is a former smuggler. Cara was inspired by the other orphans I saw in the stories. I didn't intend for them to last for longer than two or three stories, but as I figured out more about them, their story kept expanding.
I really didn't have specific goals in mind as I started writing them. I have noticed, though, that Pieter especially has expanded as a character. He goes from bored, spoiled rich kid to infamous smuggler to flight school teacher. Teaching was the last thing he ever thought he would be doing, yet he finds the most satisfaction from it. (Of course, his story doesn't end with becoming a teacher...but if I said anything more, it would be a spoiler. Can't have that!) ;) So I think my goal with him is illustrating how satisfying a simple life can be.

MRP: What do you see as the biggest advantage of a multi-author project like Avenir Eclectia?

HA: The inspiration. I always joke that I should've worked for Pixar, because the team that works on a story together always meets every morning to bat ideas around. I work the best when I get a chance to brainstorm with other creative types, and I always come away from an AE story or discussion inspired to write, whether it be for Avenir Eclectia or on one of my own projects.

MRP: The biggest disadvantage or challenge?

HA: The continuity. It's like the old saying, "Too many cooks spoil the stew." Not that I'm saying that there could be too many people involved in Avenir Eclectia. But sometimes, with multiple people writing about the same locations, it can get a little off-kilter since everyone kind of has their own perspective on things. But so far I think everyone has done a really good job at working together to keep stuff consistent.

MRP: Do you have a favorite memory or experience from the Avenir Eclectia project so far?

HA: I really, really loved reading everything that Walt Staples wrote. He had a great wit and a talent that I envied. He was one of my favorite Avenir Eclectia authors and I really miss him.
Besides that, my next favorite memory would be seeing my first fiction piece published, and seeing the first book in print with my name on the cover.

MRP: Seeing my name on the cover was a big thrill for me too, and getting to share that exciting first with a close friend just made it that much cooler! 
Can you give us any kind of hint at where your story/character arc is going from here?

HA: Pieter, Cara, Cog, and Clock will be involved with some of the creepy-crawly happenings on Avenir. Reeder, my messenger in Zirconia, actually has a lot of his story plot to go, and his story will be tied into some of the demonic-plot storylines.

MRP: Thanks again for joining us, Heather! It's always fun talking to another author, especially one who shares interest in a project I've been blessed to be a part of. ; )
HA: Thanks for having me Mary! 


Well, that about wraps up the Avenir Eclectia interviews for me. It makes me kind of sad. But, work on the shared project continues with some exciting plans for the future, and of course, the first volume is available in print on Amazon at an amazing price. So if you haven't read it by now, you've got no excuse. : P

Have a great weekend, everybody!

November 15, 2012

Author Interview - Pauline Creeden

Hello, all! I'm back again, with another interview with one of the Avenir Eclectia authors. Today we're talking with author Pauline Creeden. Thanks so much for joining us today, Pauline!

PC: Thank you for having me here Mary!

MRP: What first brought you to the world of Avenir Eclectia and got you interested in the project?
PC: My first introduction to AE was through a link posted on Facebook by fellow writer friend, H. A. Titus. She posted a story and I followed the link. After reading the short piece about a wizard making deliveries, I was intrigued by the site as a whole. I spent hours perusing the stories and history of the shared world. As can happen sometimes, a character popped in my head. She wouldn’t let me go until I’d written her first scene.
MRP: What do you consider your unique 'trademark' as a writer, and how does that come through in your Avenir Eclectia stories?
PC: Hmmm. My trademark? I like for my stories to have the feeling of both the familiar and the strange with a twist that I hope makes it original and lasts in the reader’s mind. That’s my goal anyway.

MRP: I've loved following your story arc and your character, Zana Black. Can you share a little bit about that for those who haven't read it yet?

PC: Zana Black is, of course, the character who grabbed me after reading the history of Avenir. After being grotesquely injured in a bug hunting accident, teenage Zana lost her brother as well as her left arm and leg. A scientist (Dr. Lee) found her and engineered parts to allow her to have some semblance of a normal life. The make-up of Avenir’s judicial system is that most bug hunters are criminals or low-lifes. Zana’s father was both. She grew up hating the father who left her and her brother for dead, and became a bounty hunter specifically to find and kill her father.

MRP: You've got me intrigued, and I've already read it! That must be a good sign. ; )  I'm looking forward to reading more!
What do you see as the biggest advantage of a multi-author project like Avenir Eclectia?
PC: I can take my time with the story arc and not worry about whether readers have something to read in the mean time. It’s also fun to read the way other authors are building on to the world. My favorite stories to follow so far have been Ernsto and Dressler’s arcs.

MRP: The biggest disadvantage or challenge?
PC: Because the world has so many authors working in it, an author has to keep track of the other stories in order to keep from clashing with someone else’s story line. It can be time consuming, even if it is fun.

MRP: Do you have a favorite memory or experience from the Avenir Eclectia project so far?
PC: Travis Perry has offered to collaborate with me on a story arc for Zana that includes a meet up with his character Ernsto. I’m looking forward to it, and am sure it will be an interesting learning experience.
MRP: (You can read up on Travis Perry and Ernsto in my interview with Travis, Here.)
Can you give us any kind of little hint at where your story arc is going from here?
PC: Of course, Zana will have to deal with her daddy issues. I’m hoping that there might be some sort of forgiveness in her future, and maybe she’ll learn that it’s okay to let herself be loved. She’s got a hard crust right now. I’m hoping she’ll soften up.
MRP: Thanks again so much for being with us. It's been fun!
PC: Thanks again for having me here, I hope to meet up again!


November 13, 2012

Author Interview - Jeff Chapman

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm back with some more great interviews with authors of Avenir Eclectia Volume 1, the newly-released science fiction anthology from Splashdown Books.

This time around we're chatting with author Jeff Chapman. Thanks so much for joining us today, Jeff!

JC: Thanks for inviting me, Mary.

MRP: What first brought you to the world of Avenir Eclectia and got you interested in the project?

JC: I'm friends with some of the Splashdown authors. I learned about the project when I followed links to their stories. I don't usually read much science fiction but the stories were fascinating and the world so varied and full of potential.

MRP: What do you consider your unique 'trademark' as a writer, and how does that show itself in your Avenir Eclectia stories?

JC: I like to write about characters who aren't certain about their beliefs or the decisions they make. The consequences of those decisions likely won't play out as they hope or expect. I also love tragedy, so while a few of my stories will end happily, most will have a more ambiguous ending. 

MRP: The stories you've written for Avenir Eclectia often deal with complicated issues of right versus wrong. Can you tell us a bit about that?

JC: When Elihu discovers the hermit's cache of coins, he has to decide between honoring the dying man's property or the good that Elihu could do for his impoverished community with the money. He's not happy with his decision, but the right choice doesn't always bring us immediate joy.

"A Creature of Words" comes down to a moral decision on the part of the fish. She decides to abort her attack on the human diver not because she's having trouble sawing through his dive suit armor but because she realizes he has language like the angels. Her morality forbids eating a creature with words.

MRP: What do you see as the biggest advantage of a multi-author project like Avenir Eclectia?

JC: I particularly like the sharing of characters between multiple authors that allow various story arcs to interact. We see familiar characters from a new perspective and the stories no longer appear as single threads going off in their own directions but as different colored threads woven together. I've consciously tried to tie my story arcs into those of other writers. My stories "A Fortuitous Stumble," "Shelter from the Storm," and "The Hermit's Cache," for instance, borrow the character Elihu Simmons--a bug-hunter and pastor--from stories that Travis Perry wrote. Of course it's polite to ask permission to borrow characters and let the other writer see what you're doing with them. This is great for building friendships and relations with other writers.

The stories from others are expanding and filling in the Avenir Eclectia world and each addition can spark your imagination in a new direction.

MRP: The biggest disadvantage or challenge?

JC: The flip side is that it can be hard to keep up with what's happening in the story world. You don't want to be caught writing about something that can no longer happen. I think Grace is doing an admirable job keeping a watchful eye on all the story threads.

MRP: Do you have a favorite memory or experience from the Avenir Eclectia project so far?

JC: My first story "A Creature of Words" is from the point of view of a fish, albeit an intelligent fish. I wasn't sure if this would fly, so I was elated when Grace accepted it.

MRP: Can you give us any kind of hint at where your story/character arc is going from here?

JC: The stories about the hermit that Elihu discovered in a cave will follow the hermit to the The Abbey of Francis and Lazarus House located on the asteroid Assisi. We'll find out who the hermit is and what's in his cryptic book. The contents of that book will create a profound personal crisis for one of the monks

MRP: Is there anything else you'd like to add or share?

JC: I'm looking forward to writing more Avenir Eclectia stories. I have the hermit thread which I see going on for quite some time and a new thread about a couple bug hunters. I hope to get back to the fish as well.

Thanks so much for hanging out with us here at the Writer's Lair, Jeff!


Remember, the AE anthology is available on Amazon for $5.98, plus it's eligible for Amazon's 4-for-3 promotion. So don't just order one for yourself; it would make a perfect gift for the sci-fi reader on your Christmas list, too. ; ) Click Here to order it from Amazon.