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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Give Me a Sword - Poem

So yeah...guess I've posted several poems lately. It's all good. Right?

::cricket....cricket::

Well, I'm still going to post it. haha.

I tried out a new rhyme scheme and I'm not sure if I like it or not. 10 syllables then 11 then 10 then back to 11 again. Let me know, you poetry buffs, if it worked out or not. The rest of you....enjoy!


Give me a Sword
-Nathan R. Petrie-

Give me a sword and I'll fight to the death.
I'll face off with darkness until my last breath.
Give me a blade and I'll guard who you are.
I'll conquer the masses and carry you far.

Give me a horse and I'll chase after you.
I'll ride day and night until I can see you.
Give me a steed and I'll race to your side.
I'll search for you, call for you, hope you won't hide.

Give me your treasures; I'll watch them all night.
I'll cherish them, savor them, guard with delight.
Give me your gold and I'll keep it unstained.
I'll punish the dirt that invades unconstrained

Give me your confidence; I'll see you through.
I'll prove with my actions the way I see you.
Give me just one word and I'll give you three.
I'll sing them, I'll write them--I want you to see.

But give me your hand, precious lady I'll woo,
I'll give all I have just to hear your, "I do."

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Cuteness of 2 Year Olds

So I've never actually met my cousin Henry. But he's made his internet debut and it's really really cute :D So.....I'm sharing it with you :D

Enjoy as my cousin recites the pledge of allegiance LOL

Random....I know.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Eternal Echoes



Recently I got to watch one of the greatest films ever made. It's my dad's all time favorite and he quotes it pretty darn often so I've been itching to watch it in a bad way. We sat at a Skyline Chili once as he explained to me in detail the plot line of most of the story and from that day on I'd been dying to watch it.

Well that day finally came. Just a couple days ago I saw for the first time the movie Gladiator.


I don't know how many of you have seen it, and the point of this post is not to review the movie, but it's pretty stinking amazing. The writing is pure brilliance, battle scenes are epic, and the plot moved me in incredible ways.


And now today is Thanksgiving.


I"m not sure how many of you recall last year's Thanksgiving Day post but it's funny because it runs along the same lines as today's.


There's a quote at the very beginning of the movie. The main character, Maximus, is a general in the Roman army. Their legions are standing on the final battlefield, the last that this war should ever see. Maximus gathers his cavalry behind enemy lines and reminds them simply:


"What we do in life...echoes in eternity."


Excuse the poor quality of the video, I just stole someone's from Youtube, but watch the scene below.




This quote is tremendously powerful I think. Especially for us as Christians, the Royal Remnant if you recall last year's post. We are charging into battle, a battle to defend the purity of this holiday, the honor of our God, and the truth that we have inside of us.


In this day and age the truth and majesty, the power, of Jesus Christ is denied. And it is up to us to stand against the tide and fight for his banner.


There once was a dream that was America. A dream of a nation that raised hands together in one accord and praised the One True God that had delivered them from their chains. There once was a dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of God's own heart.


The pilgrims knew this that first Thanksgiving day. They threw down the gauntlet and declared that God was God. They praised him for his powerful work in bringing them to this great land, for rescuing them from persecution. They formed the line, and charged into battle. And their actions sent tremendous reverberations throughout eternity.


They are remembered today as pioneers of a new age and a new world. A new world that would become the first of true freedom and liberty.


Now the torch has passed to us, hundreds of years later.

Will you fight?


Hold the line. Stay with me.


My brothers, what we do in life...echoes in eternity.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sneakily Sneaky Sneakiness



I mentioned major sneaking in my previous post...and now it's time to reveal the secret.

A message to fans of Wayne Thomas Batson:>

Sneak, the definition thereof: 1.) To go or move in a quiet, stealthy way. 2.) A person regarded as stealthy. 3.) An instance of sneaking; a quiet, stealthy movement. 4.) Carried out in a clandestine manner. 5.) Perpetrated without warning

Greetings Warriors, Shield Maidens, Elves, and all those that dwell in the Realm of Glimpses;

There are passages and doorways…and realms that lie unseen. And there are those who traverse these lands in secret to fight for the One True King. They are many and they are one. They are:


The League of Extraordinarily Sneaky People.


I am but one though I speak for the many. There is a warrior outside our ranks whom we desire to honor greatly. Many of us he has trained, many he has shown light, and into all he has burned a message of hope. His name is Sir Wayne Thomas Batson, the Loremaster.


The League has special things in store. Sneaking of the sneakiest sneakiness. Sneaking of great awesome power. Sneaking so sneaky we needed a new word to describe it—Sneakalotoricalsneakiness….No wait, that’s just ridiculous. >


Our scheme will come to fruition at His Way Christian Bookstore In Ellicott City on Saturday December 4th from 11AM-3PM. This happens to be the first official Sword in the Stars Book Signing as well!


Plan on attending and entering to win one of two copies of Sword in the Stars, a copy of The Door Within book on CD as well as other surprises! And dress in your sneakiest fantasy costume!


If you cannot make the journey, the League has more sneakiness to offer. Contact our leader for more information!


Join our ranks through the Book of Faces here: http://on.fb.me/eEZ1lJ Or contact our leader by email: everlastingscribe@hotmail.com


Oh, did I mention there’ll be cake?


~ The League ::sneak::

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Where in the World is Nathan Petrie?

That's a question I'm always asking. :D But I'm sure any reader of this blog is probably thinking the same thing. You know, assuming you actually read this thing once in a while (which I'm so thankful for my many readers). And, as usual, I"ve been up to no good. And for all those interested, here's what my life has been like. And what I"m looking forward to.
The biggest thing that has kept me busy has been marching band. The season just ended a few weeks ago but until then I was busy with my saxophone just about every night. This being my first year in the program, I wasn't sure what to expect. It was both extremely fun and extremely time consuming. It ate away at a lot of my writing and free time but it was definitely an experience worth having. I"m glad I marched and will likely march again next year. It was a lot of work, but it was really fun.

[I"m on the far right]

I've had lots of books to keep me busy. I won a copy of Imaginary Jesus a while back and the author mailed me to copy about a month later. The book was not only hilarious, but insightful and helpful to my Christian walk.

I also picked up a copy of Radical by David Platt. Seriously guys....if you want to take your faith seriously, I'd highly recommend this book. It challenged me in ways I can't even begin to explain and has redefined a lot of things about my faith. The book rocked and for those of you with a blog, Waterbrook Press (the publisher of Radical) has a sweet new review program and you can snag this book for free!!

As for fiction, I've been reading Masters and Slayer by Bryan Davis (AWESOME!) and re-reading The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson for reasons I'll go into later in this post. Sometime before December I'm going to reread The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. You know, get hyped for the epic new movie coming out soon!

At school my classes are getting more difficult, and therefore more time consuming, which has also sucked away a good chunk of Internet vegging. I'm pretty excited/scared for the rest of this year. Just looking at my class schedule makes me feel educated LOL

Since the close of marching band and the rebeginning of my social life I've been diving head first back into writing. And I"m pretty excited about what's happening in that area.

1. I submitted the first half of my novella, The Chains of Hethra, to a scholarship contest called the Overture Awards. It's a pretty prestigious award given out by an Arts organization in my area and I've got a pretty good shot at winning this thing. My guidance counselor loved the story and the AP Senior English teacher, though providing a lot of criticism, seemed to believe in the work as well. Having that backing always feels good, you know?

2. I'm working on a previously mentioned short story to submit to the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. My teacher keeps bugging me to submit and since I already have that awesome idea for a story, I"m giving it a whirl. Reading the submissions that won in the previous years I'm pretty sure I can place pretty high in this contest (having a separate category for Fantasy helps ;) lol). This story is going to be awesome. I'll likely post it here once the contest is over with.

3. My novel is still in the rut while I decide what to do about the plot issues. On a whole I've decided not to move forward with stretching it to 75,000 words as I'd originally planned. I just don't think it's possible to make the story that long. The plan as of right now is to try to find a way to combine the 20 or so thousand words at the beginning to the 20 or so thousand at the end. So I'm shooting for somewhere between 5 and 10K in the middle. Here's hoping for a spark of creativity!

4. Not stretching the TCOH novel is good news in disguise. It means you all get to read the story faster, and that I can start writing my other novel sooner! I should be able to breeze through the beginning drafts of this one since I have such a good outline to work with. And then I can work on getting that one edited and eventually published.

Oh and on the negative side of life the space bar on my computer broke :( Which has kept me from typing my writing and from updating this blog. Currently I"m using my dad's computer LOL

So that's what I've been up to. Stay tuned for news on some EXTREME SNEAKINESS that involves author Wayne Thomas Batson!

In the meantime, what have you been up to? And what would you like me to do a blog post/series on? I've got some ideas but I want yours!

I'm all ears :D

To the end,
-Nathan

Sunday, October 10, 2010

RowMar: Part 5 - Fuel to Write


So those of you who follow this blog will catch something pretty familiar on here.

::drum roll::

My testimony!

A while back I posted this video and it received a great response. And so, naturally, I'm excited to share it with you all again.

Except now it's for a school project. Much more official-like.

As with the previous posts, this is all in response to questions my Language Arts teacher asked me on this blog. And this post's question is:

Describe yourself on your quest - what tools, skills, previous experiences do you bring with you (excluding your previous triumphs and accolades).

Well obviously my testimony is a huge proponent to my writing. Hello, I write Christian fantasy. That all hinges on my faith in Christ. And so this transforming experience is very important to my writing. It defines it.

Enjoy.



Some of the things touched on in the video can't really be elaborated down here in any more detail. Pretty much every experience is a source of writing material. If you've written for any amount of time you know this. And the ones that provide the best material are the really hard ones.

And this one tried the very ground upon which I stood.

I screwed up. And it brought into perspective the direction my life was headed, my identity in Christ, and what this faith really meant. And that fuels my writing.

For example. When I write about abandonment or about loneliness, I can do it really well. Why? Because I've been there. I've lived there. I've experienced that. I was dragged away from my friends several different times. I've had family members betray me. I've had strained relationships that eventually fell apart.

What makes me a writer is that I can channel that emotion into a story and make my readers feel the same way.

When I write a character that is searching for meaning, I can do that because I've been there. I've searched. I've cried out in desperation for something to hold onto.

A rebellious character--been there done that. I stared my God in the face and said, "I don't care what you think." And ran the opposite direction.

A servant--been there.

And this is the skill that makes writing come alive. Experience. The ability to take the life you've been given, the life you've screwed up, and turn that into an emotional thrill ride of a novel.

Some things, obviously, I have to fake. I've never been physically abused, for example. But sometimes a story demands I write such a character. So because I have these other experiences, I can guess what that must feel like and create a realistic character.

What experiences help you to write?

Let's chat.

To the end,
Nathan

RowMar: Part 4 - The Christ Figure


EDIT: I lost a paragraph while writing this. Excuse any bumpiness. I had to try to guess what I wrote. Enjoy.

Four more posts left in this series and I'm still going strong! The next questions get up close and personal. For those of you who haven't heard my story yet....stay tuned!

These questions come from the first post of the RowMar series and I'm gonna jump right into them. If you hadn't noticed...I'm getting tired :-)

Do you see yourself - the hero - as a Christ-like figure?

This project is designed to view ourselves as being the hero in our own Hero's Journey. If you aren't familiar with this literary term I'd suggest you read the previous link. Basically, it's the pattern that most questing stories follow.

In my personal quest, do I see myself has a Christ-like figure?

Depends on the context. I'd like to think of myself as Christ-like in all situations. I certainly strive to be the image of Christ in all that I do. Does that mean that I write just like Christ would? Uh no. Not so much. I think he'd be a better writer.....oh wait....he wrote the number one bestselling book of all time <_<

Once the book releases, though, I can start viewing myself as more of the Christ figure. I am writing this story, after all, for the lost and to encourage the believers.

I can't wait for the release. I can't wait to see how God's going to use this work to change people's lives. I can't wait to read the emails from new creations. New family members in Christ. I can't wait to read how this work encouraged a believer and he shared it with them and that opened communication lines and now he's born again. I can't wait to hear the stories.

Am I cocky? Maybe. I'm pretty confident that The Chains of Hethra will dramatically effect people. The idea is just so....perfect. I'm praying that God will dictate the words I write so that people read it and their lives are changed for the better.

I'm praying this book effects believers' lives enough for them to step out and start living their faith. And what I really hope happens, is that the teen Christians that read this will share it with their lost friends. And then use this to lead them to Christ.

How cool would that be?

As I'm writing, however, I see myself more as the characters I'm writing about. I'm the lost man that denies Alvar. I'm the captive that refuses tot be freed of his chains. I'm the Damans. I'm enchained. I scorn the light and love the darkness.

And I desperately need Alvar to set me free.

However, once he frees(ed) me my response needs to be in following with Alvar's words:

“Wait here, child.”
He shook his head. “Why?”
The man inclined his head toward the threshold of the chamber. “There are captives that are yet bound. Damans that hunt the shadows.”
“I cannot free them.”
Alvar smiled playfully and shoved Barron forward. “Alone you cannot. Bear your sword and you may release them of their chains. Tell them to come to this Tree. I will free them of this world. And when I am ready for you, I will come.”
“I will stay as well.”
Barron turned as a man, sandy blonde hair blowing gently in the breeze, stepped out of the crowd. The man ran to Alvar’s feet. Clasping his hands he knelt before his deliverer, head bowed.
“I will serve you in rescuing the captives.”
May this be my response.

To the end,
Nathan

RowMar: Part 3 - Focus


Welcome! Ladies, gentlemen, dragons, and the occasional yodeling dwarf to Reflections with Mrs. Ring (or "Rowmar" for short) Part Three!

Welcome, a fore mentioned people, to the longest blog streak I've ever had. 6 posts in a day. This is Petrie insanity at its best!

On my Frantic Perfectionist - Editing on the Fly post, my teacher left the following comment:

So who's guiding this horse Don Quixote?

Writers write - everyday. They work it into their schedule and they do it like a job.

Do you ever have trouble focusing?

Reflect on that for me.


And reflect is exactly what I plan on doing.

I've never read The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha so I'm not too keen on that reference. Anyone wanna help me figure that one out? :-)

I'm going to tackle these questions one at a time.

Writer's write everyday

This is something you'll hear from just about every successful writer. If you want to write, the first thing you've got to do is....(hello) write. And not only that, but write frequently. Most even say every day.

And this is great advice.

However I have yet to be able to follow this.

Some aspiring writers would likely feel like a failure if they couldn't follow this most basic piece of advice. But I honestly don't think it's needed to write everyday. At least writing on one project.

I have an issue with writing on the same project for extended periods of time. I think most writers do. Eventually, the mind tires of plunging through the same rabbit holes. And writing takes a lot of mental effort. So I cannot feasibly write a good story and do it everyday. It's just not a possibility yet. I need my stories to sit.

Sure, I can write every day for a week or so. But once I peek 10,000 words....I'm dead. The story needs to sit. It just does.

However, this does not mean I toss out creativity and "writing".

If I'm not writing on my project, I'm writing another project. If I'm not doing that, I'm reading a book, watching a movie, etc. All of which aid in my writing ability. I rewrite movies in my head, analyze plot structures as I read, etc. And I steal ideas :-)

Or I outline my projects in my mind.

And I'm not alone in this. Wayne Thomas Batson has the same problem. And Scott Appleton as well I believe. And look at them, signed with AMG and still going strong :-)

So for me, I can't write everyday. It's hard to work it into my schedule, and it's hard to find the mental keen-ness. Which leads to my next topic....

Do you ever have trouble focusing?

A resounding yes.

To write well, I need to be in this certain mood, with this certain excitement, etc. And if something's missing, I either knock out 200 words and quit or I knock out 1,000 and it's garbage.

However, I fix this pretty quickly by outlining. The better the outline I have, the easier I can focus and connect with the story. Why? Because it's half written already.

So I'm half and half on the focusing....I mean really.....LOOK SOMETHING SHINY.

To the end,
Nathan

Reflections for Mrs. Ring: Part 2

As with my previous post this Q and A is between my language arts teacher and myself. See the previous 6 posts for more information on this project. Hopefully you can get something out of this.

If you were the hero of your own quest and the best selling novel were the goal for you to reach, how would the story unfold?

Well that's an interesting question. And my answer goes something like this. Ask Frodo how he thought his life would unfold and I"m sure you'd get a very different answer than how it actually happened. Ask just about any hero from any story and see how much that differs from the result.

So my "quest"?

Well first off we'd need to establish my goal. And I wouldn't say that it's to sell a trillion copies of my books. Writing is a tool, selling books is a tool. I just want to reach into the hearts of this generation and watch God move.

However, doing that requires sales. Selling ten books or a trillion. (Be nice to sell a bunch though lol. Plus....I'd need to to make a living). And the goal for selling is uh......

I honestly have no idea how it'll unfold. But my plan follows something along the lines of....
  1. Finish writing my novella/novel
  2. Submit to FPP novella/novel
  3. Read FPP's glowing response (I'm not biased :D LOL)
  4. Sign novella/novel
  5. Sell billions of copies (er...make that thousands)
  6. Sign with large company
  7. Sell millions
Impractical. Radical. Crazy. But stranger things have happened right?

Currently I'm floating between the first three. I know the publisher likes the story idea. I know he likes the original characters. I know he likes the last half of the plot. Now I've just gotta write the beginning and sell it to him.

Big time.

Easy enough right? (I wish haha).

So let's dream a minute. If your vision for your stories came true....how would that unfold? Dare to be crazy. It's pretty nuts for me to say I intend to sell thousands just out of (or during) my senior year of high school. But you know what, I'm going for it anyway.

In fact, it's nuts to think I could be published.

But I know I'm not the only dreamer out there. So let's hear those radical thoughts.

To the end,
Nathan

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reflections for Mrs. Ring


Well you've all seen a dramatic rise in the number of posts per week lately I'm sure. It's all for this school project that I mentioned in a previous post. So bear with me as I answer some questions my teacher wants me to answer. And hey, you aspiring writers like me out there (and the awesome people waiting for The Chains of Hethra), you might actually enjoy some of this :-)

Mrs. Ring is my Language Arts teacher for this assignment, if you hadn't guessed that already. Feel free to stop by her blog for an example of what my project is supposed to look like LOL

Anywho, here are her questions for my original post:


What are the challenges for you specifically in taking on this particular "quest"?

The biggest challenge for me here is time management. I've never been particularly good at it and this was something I was hoping to gain from this assignment. To be able to do all my activities to the best of my ability and then make sure my writing is top notch, plus tossing up a blog every night, is pretty challenging. And so My biggest problem with this project has been time management.

What makes this any different from any other story you've worked on before?

The Outside, and I suppose we could include TCOH in this as well, is a fairly unique story in the fact that it is allegory. The vast majority of my stories haven't been straight allegory until lately. Once I got the The Chains of Hethra idea allegories have been flooding my mind. It's pretty awesome. TO isn't all that different from my other stories to be quite honest. It maintains the strong light and darkness contrast, follows a lost character as he seeks redemption and meaning, and eventually pours out the magnitude of the power of Christ. Same goes for The Chains of Hethra. The only difference here is the Christ-figure. In TO, the Christ-figure is simply a light and portrays the freedom and purpose of a Christian life. In TCOH, I focus on the salvation aspects of God.

What do you expect to gain from this journey?

I expect to gain a few things: a drive to finish these projects, the ability to manage my time, and I expect my people-skills to stretch ( ;) lol).

That's all for now! Be back later tonight!

To the end,
Nathan

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Frantic Perfectionist - Editing on the Fly


So today was actually pretty exciting writing wise.

I got out of my second period class as there was a play of sorts going on that I was unable to attend. Since class was practically canceled, I jumped at the chance to write for about an hour and a half.

As I'd written on Chapter Ten of TCOH ("Imaginary Chains" is the tittle if you care lol) earlier in the week and forgot to move the file to my jump drive I decided to knock out some of this short story I've been wanting to write.

I sat down, flipped open the outline, decoded my horrible handwriting, and started to write.

I busted out about half a page before the story stalled. This is pretty typical for me when I'm writing a story that I don't have a detailed vision for. Basically, if I don't know the next few chapters, I stall pretty often. My un-stucker is pretty simple--read through what I just wrote.

This is a pretty effective strategy or me, and I know for many of you as well. Just reminding myself of where the story is going, what the pacing actually reads like, etc really helps boost my creativity and drive. It really gets the gears turning. I start seeing new things in the scene, where it could go, what's actually happening. The only downside is....

I start writing wherever I feel like.

Basically, I'm an addictive editor.

I must have added around 200 words before I got back to my original "stalling" point. And after I knocked out a few more paragraphs, I redid the cycle and added a couple hundred more through edits.

I get advice from writers all the time: don't edit on the fly, it slows you down, etc etc. But I disagree. For me, this tactic works.

Now, obviously, I don't go through and fix every grammatical mistake, every vague description, etc. Save that for the editing rounds. But I do go back and smooth things out, add plot details here, mostly I slow things down.

Maybe I just want the story to be perfect and am not willing to wait til it's all finished :-)

What about you? Do you have a problem editing on the fly? Is this effective? Or are you better at just throwing it all out there and sifting through it later?

Let's chat.

To the end,
Nathan

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Brain Storm + Sugary Tea Storm + Cold Storm = Writing Storm


Ladies and Gentlemen I have a semi-important announcement that belongs on your Not-Important-At-All-To-My-Life List. Are you ready?

After three and a half months, I finally wrote on The Chains of Hethra.

Can I get a round of applause?

I'd put the novel off for so long because I was frustrated with trying to turn The Guardian's Tree novella into The Chains of Hethra novel. I had 16,000 words for an introduction/inciting incident and I had about the same amount of words to wrap the story up. But I was having extreme difficulty connecting the two segments of the story, especially with the huge 70K word count goal looming above my head.

So yesterday on my bus ride from the Grant County band competition to the Loveland competition (most tiring day of my life by the way lol) I chatted with a friend of mine about the story.

So, it'd be cool if I could say that I got an idea for the middle portion of the story and now everything's happy and I'm excited to write and that the book will be released in two weeks.

But I can't. :-)

In fact, I didn't get an idea for the middle portion at all. LOL

But I did get a drive to finish the story back. FINALLY.

I had an outline for one more chapter sitting in my notebook so I broke it out. Turned out I'd already written half that chapter and just needed to finish it. So I did, and I feel really good about myself.

So today before church starts again I'm going to plow through this story if it's the last thing I've got. I've got some peppermint tea, a notebook, and a pen sitting beside me. And awesome cold air outside to wake me up. I'd love to get 2,000 words today but with the plot issues I could settle for 1,000-1,500. Already knocked out 600 though!

So this is my writing formula for life: Friends + tea + winter = Bestselling novel.

:-)

To the end,
Nathan

Monday, September 27, 2010

Let the Writing Begin! - The Outside


So I finally starting writing this short story for school.

Tentatively titled The Outside, the story is about a character named Adam who lives in a metallic prison of darkness. Literally, as in....no light. However, triangular shaped holes have begun to appear in the ceiling, allowing light to punch through into the tunnels. Adam is tasked by his captors with the job of patching the holes and preventing the light from returning. The light stabs at their eyes and becomes a growing problem. Eventually, Adam discovers that their might be more to their existence than the constant darkness of the tunnels. Their just might be an Outside world--filled with light, filled with pain, and filled with glory.

Today I got a measly 500 words but it's a start. And that's all I really needed.....a start.

So this is my new project. Thoughts?

The allegory is, obviously, very easy to figure out. But I think it's gonna be an awesome story!

I could use titles too if anyone's got any ideas.

And, if you're wondering why I've been updating so frequently lately, check out the earlier posts of this project!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Fountain's Song - Poem

Well I still haven't gotten around to fiction writing lately. Homecoming on Friday (awesome!), homecoming games on Saturday (awesome lol), and apple-picking on Sunday (uh...still awesome) kinda took my time. However after homecoming, Saturday morning, I wrote the following poem.

Pretty cryptic I suppose and the last two lines allude to three other poems I've written. So while it may not make complete sense and there's a line or two that's contrived I still think it's pretty good.

Enjoy!

The Fountain's Song
Nathan R. Petrie

There’s something rising in his heart
There’s something running to its start
It’s waited silent for so long
And as it’s come it won’t depart

The fountain waits behind his eye
The water yearns to fall and rise
The stationed guards hold fast the flow
The ocean’s wishes they deny

Yet fountain ancient, fountain new
Awaits a time that it once knew
Its water tastes of joy and peace
Of all the things that it’s flown through

Against the will of watchful guards
The water moves that once was barred
It rises, falls, within the bowl
But does not touch the vast courtyard

The music plays above the noise
A song, unbroken, by decoys
Though measures rest and tempos slow
The song plays on and he enjoys

The water rises, music soars
A cosmic battle man adores
A smile takes the face of him
For this is what he’s waited for

Now at long last the beings meet
Fountain and music, now complete
They surge as one and burn his heart
And cause his pain utter defeat

Behold the battered man today
Met by the music and by waves
Both he loves and would not trade
Because they came from what they say:

That good-byes never last for long
They’re just quick breaks within the song

Friday, September 24, 2010

Back into Swing....

Well it's been a while since I've made a legit blog post and for that I apologize. Ever since the media fast I've been having trouble getting back into the cyber world (or am I improving in life?? hmmmm lol). And what with joining the marching band, academic team, and all sorts of other activities I've been fairly swamped. So much so that my writing time has again been forfeit.

What kind of writer am I?

Anyhow, in my Language Arts class we've recently been given an assignment to "improve our happiness". Not really sure how this fits with core content or language arts but that topic will be saved for another School Chat post.

So I wanted to do something deep and life changing. Something that would effect the world for ages to come. Something my class mates and teachers could remember me for years from now. And then the day to decide my happiness "goal" came and I had come up with..........

Absolutely nothing.

So out of my mouth jumped the first and easiest thing I could think of--get back into writing.

I have a short story and novel to write and obviously expanding The Guardian's Tree into The Chains of Hethra to work on and I've done very, very little on any of these projects. Seems I typically burn out after 10,000 words and then I'm hard pressed to get started again. My break from writing has been far too long. It was helpful, but now that helpfullness is worn out.

I'm still going to break in the TCOH writing because I'm stuck on some plot issues but I have an excellent short story idea I'd love to finish and submit to the Scholastic Art and Writing awards.

So hey, I can write a story in two weeks. This will be my project!

The way this works is that I'm going to blog every day about what I did on this project and, because I'll be using this blog, tid-bits about the craft of writing. I was supposed to start Monday but, being the Master of All-Things-Procrastinated, I put off getting started.

Here's what I've done so far:
  • Outlined the opening scenes
  • Thought long and hard about the story

And that's about it :-) But it's all I really need to get started.

How is your all's writing going? What's the weirdest assignment you've ever been given?

Oh! And don't forget to enter for the Dekker shirt if you're interested!

To the end,

Nathan

Monday, September 13, 2010

Immanuel's Veins - Ted Dekker


Yes, this is another book review. But this is not just another book. Bear with me.

By now most readers of all walks of life have heard the name Ted Dekker. Author of more than twenty-five New York Times bestselling novels, Dekker has captivated the hearts and minds of readers for years now. He practically invented the genre of Christian Suspense/Spiritual Warfare and continues cooking up a tantalizing blend of adrenaline laced thriller, amazing fantasies, and profound allegories.

I am writing this post a week or so before today, a little over an hour after I finished the book. I must tell you, I will never again doubt Dekker's abilities to deliver. He is by far the greatest storyteller I have ever read.

I don't want to spoil plot by giving such an in depth review as typical. So I'll just give you the back cover along with a sentence or two giving you the actual plot.

From the Back Cover


This story is for
everyone--but not everyone is for this story.


It is a dangerous tale of times past. A love story full of deep seduction. A
story of terrible longing and bold sacrifice.

Then as now, evil begins its courtship cloaked in light. And the heart
embraces what it should flee. Forgetting it once had a truer lover.

With a kiss, evil will ravage body, soul, and mind. Yet there remains hope,
because the heart knows no bounds.

Love will prove greater than lust. Sacrifice will overcome seduction. And
blood will flow.

Because the battle for the heart is always violently opposed. For those
desperate to drink deep from this fountain of life, enter.

But remember, not everyone is
for this story.


Review
Immanuel's Veins, in its simplest form, is a love story. Dive deeper and you find a suspenseful conflict between good and evil. Dive even further and you find an allegory to God's immense love. Toma Nicolescu, warrior in the 1772 army of Russia, has fought many battles, but none so difficult and draining as the inward struggle he faces upon meeting his new charges. Tasked with protecting a small family from an unknown evil, Toma finds himself locked in a new kind of warfare--one over the heart. But there is another suitor, masquerading as a being of light and spewing words of darkness. Who will win the lady's heart? Who is good? Who is evil?

Once again, Dekker has crafted a beautiful fable of the love of God for his bride and the raging battle for its heart and soul. Opening with a haunting letter and prophecy, Immanuel's Veins latched onto me and didn't let go. There are slow points in this book, but expertly placed mysteries, foreshadowings, and clues dragged me through them, begging for more. I won't ever doubt Dekker's ability to deliver an excellent story again.

Books of History fans will find much deserved answers and more questions. New fans shouldn't be lost during the reading of IV and will likely be hooked onto Dekker lore. For most enjoyment I would suggest reading the Circle books before IV though.

The story contains several interesting topics of discussion from vampires to the modern day condition of the church.

All in all, with this final book in the Christian market Dekker has won my heart forever. I doubt I could read a thousand more books and find someone his equal. Crying, laughing, cringing with dread I read this book like lightining. And I can tell you now--Immanuel's Veins has changed my life.

Sacrificial Love
As part of the Booksneeze review program I was able to get this book for free (what a deal right?). Not only for free, but before publication! Their stipulations included my posting this review on this exact date and telling you I didn't buy it, etc. But one of the other things that they asked was that I answered a very simple yet profound question:

What is sacrificial love?

And I will tell you :-) In my next post!

MWHAHAHHAHA!

For now, how about I give you something? Say....a limited addition Immanuel's Veins T-shirt? Yeah that sounds good.

The shrit features a heart (like...an actual blood pumping heart) interwrapped with flowers/thorns of sorts and the words "Spread the Love" to the bottom left of it. All in all pretty cool. I"ll try to upload a picture shortly.

All you have to do is comment to enter. Who's in?

To the end,
Nathan

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Importance of Not Writing


I spend way too much time coming up with creative titles. I also spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to find awesome pictures to go along with those titles.

But I digress.

Today I pulled out my single printed copy of the first ten chapters of The Chains of Hethra. Between and during classes I found myself engrossed in a story I hardly remembered being this good.

It was a real morale booster.

A lot of you probably know, or have noticed, that I've done very little writing on TCOH lately. I'd been very discouraged about the story already and after my marching band season started I was far too swamped to convince myself that I was writing something worth reading and that I should keep at it.

So I didn't write. Not a word.

For months.

On one hand this was really awful. I'd planned to finish my first draft before summer was over. The idea was to edit all throughout the school year. Pretty good plan right? Finish the bulk of the intensive stuff and edit, which doesn't take nearly as much time per session, while I was in the busiest part of the year.

But I didn't.

So I got very far behind.

However, as I've been reading through my own novel I've realized that this long break from writing has helped in ways I couldn't have known before. I have a fresh take on the story (even though I still have future plot problems) and it actually looks good.

Don't know how many of you have tried writing a book. But after a while, you've written so much into it that it all just looks like garbage to you.

This break helped me see it with better eyes. And so I'm excited to write the rest of it.

So I'm going to be a major proponent of taking breaks, if anything from the project you're working on. Some people say to write everyday. That's cool, I don't do it, but at least trade off what projects you're working on. I myself find it very hard to simply plow through a manuscript--maybe I'm the only one.

Pros of Taking Breaks
  • Encouragement/Motivation - When I read back through it, I was encouraged that this was a good story. And that gave me motivation to keep at it, which I don't get from many other places.
  • Fresh Take on Characters and Plot - If you're having issues with the storyline (like I was) taking a break seems to help a lot. It frees your mind of all the useless fog and opens it up to the actual story. You see it from new eyes and can often make better guesses as to what will fit the story. Same goes for characters.
  • Time to Live Life - Yeah, I needed some time away from the computer :-)
  • Batteries are Now Ready to Go - Breaks are a major energy re-filler. Knock out another chunk while it lasts!
So this is why I feel it's important to take breaks from writing in general. But for some, simply from their main project.

Thoughts?

To the end,
Nathan

PS: I just started using Gimp. It's AWESOME!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And So it Begins...

Summer, I regret to inform you all, is officially over.

Cue wailing.

Sadly, it's true. Today was my first day of my sophomore year. Pretty crazy. Summer has ended and another year has begun. Where did the time go? ::dramatic sigh::

But! Don't let the summer party end! Let's celebrate our summers!

My summer was pretty jammed packed. My highlight was the camp I went to with my church called Crossings at Johnathan's Creek. If you've ever been to a Crossings camp, or any Church camp for that matter, you know how crazy and awesome it is.

This year, was pretty special.

My parents, as some of you know, are in the ministry (and by extension so am I). We've been at this church for several months and this was the first major event. We hopped into our sweet newly air-conditioned van and drove down to south western Kentucky.

The ride was pretty fun. Lots of music, chatting, interesting stops at restaurants. Took several hours but it was so worth it. Eventually we reached the camp.

We were met by a crazy staff waving around swimming noodles. They motioned us to halt and ripped our doors open. After some more craziness, they bowed their heads to pray with and for us. It was then I knew: it'd be a great week.

They staffers shot some hilarious video of us then shot us off to our cabins. All in all, I couldn't have thought of a better way to start the week.

The rest of the week consisted of awesome worship experiences led by a great up-and-coming artist named Bo Harris (aka Smooth Java). Seriously, check this guy out. He's going places.

The preaching was fiery and filled with God's power and passion. Rob Turner is quite possibly the best preacher I have ever heard. He doesn't hold back any punches and stands firmly on the truth of God's Word, and all of its grit. We had some extremely hilarious and silly mornings followed by intense and enjoyable POIs (Points of interest, basically....the fun activities). They ranged from ziplining to rock climbing, to biking to tubing.

The theme of the week was Adopted. Four days: We are Orphans, A Father adopts us, He takes us into a family, We become heirs, and we have a future (if filled with suffering). The central foundations of the Gospel presented in heart stopping and sword-raising ways.

At the end of every worship time our church got together into a time of close revelation and reflection. We talked about the sermon and how God was working in our lives. Tears, laughter, and Holy Spirit beyond comprehension. These were the highlights of the week.

Several in our group met Christ for the first time and we all felt a sense of refreshment and revival. The camp "high" is still running with most of us weeks after the event and just in time.

Bring on school.

Today was my first day. Time to change the world.

"Faith without works is dead."

"How can they hear without a preacher?"
Who's with me?

Oh right....and how was your summer?

And a random pic. Who can guess what it is?

To the end,
Nathan

Monday, August 2, 2010

School Chat - Required Reading


So as you've all noticed I have slacked in updating my blog. Not to worry, I've been busy with all sorts of important things. Church stuff, family stuff, band camp, and of course....the ever enjoyable summer reading project.

I find myself asking all the time: how on earth do such horrible books end up becoming required reading?

I'm sure the majority of the reading population would disagree with me but writers such as Charles Dickens, Tim O'Brien, Alcott, Gail Giles, etc aren't very good . Dickens was good for his time, but let's face it...it's no longer the 18th century. O'Brien wrote the most ridiculous piece of garbage I've ever read, shamming all kinds of moral standards. And Gail Giles, while succeeding in writing a good story, is nowhere near the heights of what I would consider "good writing".

So here we go, I'm going to rant.

Why does the educational system require its students of the English language to read books that are counter productive to much of the modern world? Weird phrasing, I know, but let me simplify it.

What is the purpose of a Language Arts class? (Not a literature class)

Is it to teach students how to write? Is it to help them understand writing? Is it to help them understand the uses of language?

Classic works, such as Dickens and Alcott, are written in a way that would be puked up by nearly every publisher in today's world. The writing is boring, the description is unneeded, POVs are insanely out of whack, and the writing breaks nearly every rule a young writer needs to understand. If the purpose of Language Arts classes is to learn to write....why are we forced to read books with horrible writing?

Or maybe we don't want our students to learn to write, we just want them to understand how they wrote hundreds of years ago. Fine. But why do we read more classics than modern good writing?

Semi-Modern works, such as O'Brien, are written in better ways (though O'Brien is FAR from the best. His style is just as bad as Dickens in my view) but at times teach such drastically immoral things that I get sick. Not only that, but again we have the example of the horrid writing. Are we teaching our students to write or to read? And if it's to read...why are we reading books written as if from a thousand years ago? Are we inspiring our students? Because the message I get from O'Brien is that we might as well all die in a hole. Sure, he explores some good topics. But there are other books that do just the same and use better writing.

And the selection of modern works, Giles and Myers for example, couldn't be any worse. Why do we read books with: Horrible writing and awful messages?

It doesn't make sense to me.

If you want your students to write, first you need to teach them, then you need to show them good examples. In language arts classes, I see very little of any of this.

If you want your students to understand all forms of language use, introduce them to ALL forms. Instead of feeding them classic garbage nonstop, balance it out. And when you select modern works....find something good.

The projects that go along with these readings are always well thought out. They accomplish the goals of reading and writing. But I personally believe much more could be accomplished if better writing was chosen to analyze.

What are your thoughts? Have I missed the point? Am I totally wrong? Let's chat.

One day, I'm going to write a book that will be required reading. If terrible books end up on the list....why can't my books? :-) lol

EDIT Aug. 3rd 2010:
As this has come up in the comments, let it be known that I do very much enjoy many classics. I am arguing against their writing, not the stories.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Venom and Song - Wayne Batson and Christopher Hopper


Well by now most of you have heard about the two books by authors Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper. They have scaled bestsellers lists, won awards, and have been acclaimed by readers everywhere. I read and reviewed Curse of the Spider-King (book one of The Berinfell Prophecies) and my review is still number one "Most Helpful" on Amazon.com

Anyhow, I was lucky to recieve a copy of the second book through Booksneeze.com, Thomas Nelson's blogger website. However, because I wanted to support the authors I also bought another copy.

The book was well worth the money.

From the Back Cover
Now in the strange realm of Allyra, the Seven young lords confront a traitor in their midst, a creature-infested forest, teenage fears and doubts, inexplicable mysteries . . . and the Spider King himself.

In a rigorous training program that makes boot camp look like Disneyland, the Seven must quickly learn to harness their own powers, work as one, and elude the Spider King's spies. But as the ancient Berinfell Prophecies are revealed, the Seven soon discover their training might not be enough. To stop the Spider King they must also unravel the secrets of the Rainsong, travel to a creepy, trap-infested fortress to find the legendary keystone, and lead the Berinfell Elves in an attack on the Spider King's own turf. An epic adventure with powerful messages about true strength, forgiveness, and working together as one body that will grab the attention of intermediate readers.

Plot
As I expected, the plot was very interesting. The authors balanced slow and fast scenes, emotional with battles, etc. The story was very much different from the first book however. Whereas the first book grabbed me in the beginning and dragged me through to the end, this book grabbed me in the beginning and through me to little sections. Basically, it didn't absorb me nearly as much as book one. Part of the problem here was that the story lacked the element of mystery that Curse of the Spider King was drenched in. Venom and Song became, very quickly, a questing novel. Not that I don't enjoy those kind of stories, because...hello who doesn't?, but I was expecting something more...original. However, the story was very fast paced.

Highlights of the plot include: the elves' training, very exciting, an interesting land of Gnomes, and the entire second half of the book. Once I crossed over into the second half, the authors had hooked me for the long haul. The book ended in one of the best ways I've seen done. A masterfully frustrating cliff hanger that literally had me holding my breath. Well done.

Characters
As with the first book, there are several main characters. Seven main protagonists and a ridiculous amount of side characters. This doesn't bother me like it does some readers. The authors developed each of the main seven well enough. Most of the character development, it seemed, was to be gleaned from the first book. The other thing I liked about this book was that a main protagonist seemed to rise above the rest. As was my hunch in reading Curse of the Spider King, Tommy Bowman becomes the real main character.

Aside from Tommy, my favorite character was likely the Spider King himself. I must commend the authors highly on the writing of this character. Excellent, excellent, excellent. The first time we are introduced to him took place in one of the best scenes these authors have ever written. And every time he showed up in the story, it made it 10 million times better.

As for emotional connections, there were a few scenes that I knew I should be feeling for the characters, but I really didn't. I understood the emotion, and recognized that it made sense, but overall...there were just too many characters for me to be brought to tears or something. However, during the second half my heart and soul was connected to the movement of the story.

Writing Quality
This is the biggest downfall for this book. Starting very early on and following throughout the course of this book you will find several cases of the following:

Description in Dialogue - this may or may not be an error, but it bugs me. What I mean by this is that the dialogue will follow as: "Look, what's that over there?" "It's a man!" "Yes! And look, he's wearing white!". Somehow, this doesn't sit right with me.

POV Infractions - The book is written in an omniscient, third person limited, point of view. That's the best I can explain it. The way it goes, is that you'll be reading one paragraph in a character's POV and then the next will be in another character's head and then the next is in another's mind and so on and so forth. This wasn't a cause for confusion except on a few points where I had to reread the paragraph to figure out who's head I was in. However, this is a flaw that I also noticed in the previous book.

"ly" adverbs - Quickly, hesitantly, happily, etc. These words abound in the manuscript. They are easy to get past and do not kill the reading experience but were they changed into description, made to show and not tell, the story would have been many times better.

Also, there was a major-ish contradiction in the story. There was a scene during the training part of the book where a character was only allowed to speak "Yes" and "No". If he said any word besides those two they whole group was to go without food for a long amount of time. However, throughout the course of this scene....he says several things besides yes and no. Had me pulling my hair out.

But I shouldn't be so hard on them. Apart from these points the writing was beautiful, detail was vivid, action clear, and very well done. The voices of the two authors merged quite well, though I could guess who wrote certain chapters. I don't think anyone that's not a writer would notice any problems. The dialogue wasn't contrived, save maybe one point, and everything flowed quite well. All in all, just some technical stuff.

Theme
This book has several themes: leadership, teamwork, deliverance, acceptance, sacrifice, etc. It also deals with issues of prejudice and more. Definitely a Christian book. Ellos, the God figure, is discussed far more than in Curse of the Spider King and plays a much greater roll. If you're looking for Christian Fantasy, this book is for you.

Conclusion
The story ended with a major cliff-hanger. Like I said, one of the best I've read. The final battle scene was loaded with twists and turns and thrills and chills. Tons of foreshadowing for book three flocked the pages.

Basic Positive Elements Include: sacrifice, camaraderie, honorable and loving adults, clearly defined good and evil, respect, honor, and more.

Basic Negative/Objectionable Element: young romance (though I thought it was handled well)

I enjoyed this book. If you read and liked Curse of the Spider King, definitely read Venom and Song. It is well done and you'll enjoy it. If you didn't enjoy Curse of the Spider King, depending on your reasons, you may or may not like Venom and Song. If your issue with COTSK involved the POV changes, I think VaS will effectively solve that. Because most of the main seven are together at most times, it reads smoothly. If you didn't like the writing, it's practically the same.

All in all, a good book. 4 outta 5 stars.

Be sure to check out:
The Curse of the Spider King Book Trailer
Wayne Thomas Batson's Blog
Christopher Hopper's Blog
The Book Series Website

To buy the book from Amazon.com click here

I'll be giving this book away, along with Curse of the Spider King, here shortly! Stay tuned!

To the end,
Nathan

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Long Overdue Post on Tags and Awards

Well they've been piling up. So, here are all the tags I've received so far! This is my first post on tags EVER!

Hands Stained with Ink Award
Awarded by Chris

Thanks dude!

If you could write one word, what would it be?

Keeneye (because I CAN)

Use one word to describe yourself.

Keeneye, wait that's cheating. Instead: Weird.

What is something random about you/your writing that you'd like to say right now?

I feel really accomplished and professional when my desk is covered in outlines, maps, character dissections, rough drafts, and the like. Why? I have no clue. :|

Think up an absurd title for a book:

The Not So Adventurous Adventures of a Boy (Teenager) Who Thought He Was a Girl and His Undersized Dragon Without Wings That Looked Like a Dog and Barked Like a Tree

or perhaps

One Morning at Night when the Blind Man Didn't See

What is the strangest sentence you can think of?

"As you know, Christopher, you are an orphan," he frowned and, because he was angry, shot his eyes into Christopher's. [Brownie points to label all the errors!]

What do you write?

Weird fantasy. Usually with an allegorical theme. I take metaphors and make them literal. So "Christian Fantasy". But in a lot of my newer ideas that I've got rolling, you might never know it was Christian.

If you had a weird disease and could only make one sound over and over, what would it be?

"I have a disease". Might help keep some stares away LOL


And now I tag...

Storyteller

Seth

Brenna

You guys get the cool award up there, too. :)

Here's the rules:

1) Post about the award.

2) Award 3 other people

3) Answer the tag


Live in a Book Tag
I was tagged by Celebrilomiel, Squeaks, Pais Charos, Silver Angel, Madeline, and BleahBriann

I guess this was a popular one! lol

Rules: Name eight books you'd like to live in for a week, and then tag eight people.

In no specific order:

1. By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson - It's a pretty cool world! Normal-ish. I'd cheat and be like....a noble bloodvoicer or something :) How cool would it be to be able to communicate with my mind?

2. Rise of the Dibor by Christopher Hopper - This world is beautiful I think. I'd either want to live before this huge war breaks out or be Luik. CH, can I be Luik? lol

3. The Bible by God - This isn't cheating is it? :) Through me back with Jesus. I wanna talk to him :-)

4. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien - I'll hide in the shire thank you. Except I'd be a cool hobbit. Half Took half Baggins just to stir things up. Oh wait <_<

Jake awarded me:
Not sure what you were thinking there Jake :-) But I'll accept it nonetheless lol.

I get to list five random things:

This blog is not stylish :)
I woke up early today and am currently eating breakfast
In a few weeks, I will have 3 copies of the same book (Venom and Song)
America runs on Dunkin'
Most people would do anything for a Klondike Bar; I've never had one.

And now to award some peeps.

Daughter of the King
Brenna (two awards in one post? Niiiiice)

Jessica awarded/tagged me FIVE TIMES. So here we go:


Also awarded to me by Katherine Sophia
Thank you so much you two! This means a lot!

Thank you, Jessica! I'm hoping to take the "Aspiring" off there in a bit :)

I love this award. It's so different from the others I've seen. Thanks for giving it to me!

I have too many faithful commenters. If you comment on this post. Take the award :)

This one actually means the most to me. I'm glad that you find this blog inspiring. There's really not much more than I can ask for. Thank you so much!

Friendship Tag
Choose any amount of friends real or blog and say at least two things or more that you admire or like about them. Tag and make sure you link to them.

This, again, really meant a lot to me. Jessica said, "[Nathan Petrie] Is a teen author who's blog I always find fascinating. His posts are filled with passion for writing and God. He always has interesting and helpful insight into writing and characters. I found Nathan's blog late one night though Yodeling Dwarf's and was attracted by the name Whispered Roars."

Thank you so much Jessica!

I tag:

Jacob Parker at Yodeling Dwarf: If you guys didn't know already, Jacob is the published author of what I'm expecting to be an amazing book Kestrel's Midnight Song. Jacob lives online almost as much as I do so when I need help with my writing BANG he's there. I think he worked just as much on TGT as I did :) Plus, he's just stinking hilarious.

Chris at My Ink Spot: WARNING: CHRISTIAN MILES IS THE CRAZIEST WRITER ALIVE. Seriously. Chris has got an awesome sense of humor. And at 16 (16 right? lol) he knows more about the craft of writing then most people will EVER know.

Brenna Dixon at The Road Less Traveled: Wow, I've awarded you a lot today haha. Brenna was one of my first readers. Met her on the DIOM forum but really didn't hit it off until after I left the forum. She bought my short stories book and mailed it to me to sign. That was pretty exciting :) And now she's just always filling me with encouragement. Thanks Brenna!

Creative Writing Tag
I was tagged by Kat Heckenbach



Here are the rules of the blog award:

1) Thank the person who tagged me. THANK YOU KAT!!!!! lol √

2) Copy and Paste the award on my blog. √

3) Link to the person who nominated me. √

4) Tell up to 6 lies and 1 truth about myself. √

Here are the lies (and one truth):

My name is Inga Montoya
You killed my father
I was born in Pittsburgh
I've published two books
I live in Cincinnati (trick questions haha)
I love the Bengals
I named a character after my initials
I named a character after me

Can you guess which is the truth?

Daughter of the King awarded me:

As we arise from out of the shade, into delight of growing into our faith...and striving to serve our King daily we will become Christians who have a strong meaningful TRUE FAITH.

Thanks a ton DOK! Let's go to battle together!

I award:

Daughter of the King right back ;)

Gwendolyn (Who also doesn't have a blog :( You should get one! lol)
Squeaks from Hidden Doorways

Thank you all for awarding me! Means a lot!

To the end,
Nathan

Monday, June 14, 2010

Writing a Novel - The Beginning

See First Post of this Series

Originally, this series was designed to follow the journey of my standalone novel The Fire. But after reading Flaming Pen Press's response to The Guardian's Tree novella submission, I decided to set both Redemption's Journey and The Fire aside and take up my newest work of fiction.

The Chains of Hethra.

This novel is definitely better than RJ and will likely be equally as good as TF.

I outlined TCOH, read over the novella version, stewed over some ideas for a while, then hit the road.

The beginning of a book is, for many, the most important part of the entire work. If an author can't hook them in the first few pages the book isn't worth reading to them. So what if it's received critical acclaim? It has a horrid beginning and I'm putting it down.

Personally, I don't agree with this stance. I take a book 100+ pages in before quitting, but overall I think it is important to understand this. Readers will throw your book back on the shelf if you can't write a good beginning.

What things make up a good opening scene?

Mystery
I often find myself admiring good writing as I read books. My favorites open with such intrigue...that even if the following pages are completely boring, I'm glued to my seat to figure out the opening scene. Maintaining mystery is a highly important aspect of writing in general, I feel, but it is even more important to instill this mystery early on.

It's hard to put a finger on how to write mysterious things. But I'm going to try. Mystery comes through in writing when the characters act in a way you wouldn't expect, do uncommon things, and when the author withholds information from you in a natural manner. I think to sum up, mystery is when the characters know something the reader doesn't.

It is important, though, to not loose your readers in piling up mystery. Mysteriousness is withholding information, not piling it on. You can't throw a million questions into the reader's mind. I find that maintaining a singular question through a scene and dropping clues is a good way to go.

For example, here's part of the opening for the TGT novella:

Screeches ripped through the darkened cavern, followed by the screams of men, and then abrupt silence. Dirt fell from the ceiling hundreds of feet above and shining leaves fell from the Tree, illuminating the forms of the agonized men and women of Hethra. Alvar cradled the sack close to his chest and sprinted through the darkness. His heart pounded and sweat drenched his forehead. He had to get out of here. He had to.

The shrieking creatures flapped their bat-like wings, each brandishing bloodied whips and dripping blades. They flew through the cavern, snatching up men and women and hurling them into fires. The humans cried out for mercy, but the Damans ignored their pleas, lashing their whips, and leaving piles of bodies in their wake.

...

Alvar sped his pace. The Damans were not after the people.


This begs the question: What is the sack? What are the Damans after if not the people?

Some of the other minor questions are answered throughout the scene, but, if you've read the scene you know, that the whole time you find yourself asking: What is in the sack? Why is it so important? Why are the Damans doing this? etc.

Chaos
Another good tactic is throwing your reader into chaos. A battle scene, a dark chase, etc. The above quote is a good example of that as well. Chaos adds to the mystery. It also helps in hooking your reader. If you throw a bunch of action in place of a bunch of detail, odds are you'll have your reader in for the long haul.

Keep in mind, however, that you need more than just a bloody fight scene. There needs to be good character play as well. Feel the emotion!


Intriguing Characters

I don't read this type as often simply because I'm not a huge fan of the genre it's typically found in. But I think I know enough to talk about it lol

If you open your scene with dialogue or internal monologue you can present another interesting concept--character. If you're more character driven, dive deep into the head of a character to begin. But when you do, maintain this level of mystery. Think like the character.

For example, I'll open a scene with a young man standing at the grave of his father. All sorts of crazy thoughts are running through his head. Weird thoughts. Odd thoughts. He's not hurt, pained, broken, etc. He's just cold, num. Like the snow falling around him. You dive into this emotionless character and run with it.

But who would have thought that he had murdered his father?

Basically, maintain mystery by not using contrived dumping methods.

Intriguing Places
Fantasy works best with this I think. I read a story once that opened on the field of a previous battle. And as the protag walked through the carnage we examined the castle he was walking through. The building itself hooked me!

All in all, the way to write a good beginning is summed in one word--mystery. People don't want to read a book that just tells them everything. They want to figure things out for themselves! In the same way, people don't want to read books about normal life. "Oh and today I had a sandwich, walked the dog, and did my homework." No one wants to read that! Write differently, write mysteriously.

Thoughts?

To the end,
Nathan

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'm at the Beach! - The Drive

Well....I'm at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina this week! Here is a video recapping the first day of the drive down.

The drive is about 10-12 hours from where we live so we split it up into two nights. The kiddos couldn't last the whole drive in one night. And neither could our old van :P.

We don't have air conditioning....so this was rather exciting :)

Brownie points to who can guess the word written on my hand!

Without further ado, day one:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fast is Over! - A Random Post


Well I've been back from my fast for a few days now and just realized that I had yet to update the blog letting you all know that I'm back! So uh, I'm back!

I'm finally starting to catch up on all that I missed for the 10+ days I was fasting, for some reason the blog ended up at the end of my to-do list. But here's my "catch up" for you.

Here's how the fast worked: No computer except school work. And no cell phone unless someone needed help (or I needed to call my mommy :) ).

The Bible mentions a law of "replacement" that basically explains that when you give something up, or resist a sin, you need to replace that with something else or else what you gave up, or the sin you were resisting, will return.

In place of the computer and cell phone I read the Bible and prayed (obviously). I started reading in three sections of the Bible: The Book of Mark, The Book of Isaiah, and The Book of Acts. All of these books God's been laying on my heart to read lately, so I dove right into them.

And I learned a lot.

I also put some really cool spiritual habits in place. In addition, I've been doing this thing that my old youth pastor did to help keep things in perspective. Every day after devotions, I've been writing a single word and reference on my left hand. For example, one of the days was "Hope" and beneath that on my hand I wrote "Rev. 21" which contains the detailing of the New Earth.

This habit is very cool because I ALWAYS see my hand. And whenever I look, BANG, the verse is in my mind. Plus it helps me live out my faith better. When I read "hope" and remembered that chapter, I reminded myself to live and view life through the eyes of eternity. To look forward and hope for a better life.

I also read both If God is Good by Randy Alcorn and The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel. Both books were excellent faith builders and intellectually exciting!

If God is Good is about the following statement: If God is all good He would want to end evil; If God is all knowing he would know that evil exists and how to stop it; If God is all powerful he would have the ability to stop evil; since evil exists, there cannot be a God.

The book searches the question of "If God is Good then Why do we suffer" from worldviews to determine which answers the question sufficiently. It's 500 pages of why we suffer, but it is an excellent read.

The Case for Faith is a sequel of sorts to The Case for Christ (which I only ever read a third of). In the first book, Strobel came at Christianity (as the atheist he was) skeptically and demanded answers out of scholars about the accuracy of the Gospels and the whole Bible, how that was passed down to us, historical and archeological evidence for the Resurrection, sources on Jesus outside of the Bible, and several other "head" questions about the faith. In the end he came to the conclusion that Jesus must be the unique Son of God and that Christianity must be true.

In TCFF, Strobel examines the heart issues to faith: Why suffering? Miracles contradict science! A loving God wouldn't kill innocent children! Evolution explains life, so we don't need God. It's offensive to claim Jesus as the only way. A loving God wouldn't torture people in Hell. Christian history is littered with oppression and violence. I still have doubts so I can't be a Christian. And several others woven into those themes. Some of his arguments were strong, others were weak, others I completely disagreed with. But overall, it was a good read.

My previous post was about the fast and I updated over my cell phone so I wasn't able to properly let you all know of this but....

I'VE SURPASSED 50 POSTS!

This is exciting, even if I for some reason though I was well over 50. lol I wanted to do something special but I can't really think of anything at the moment.

In other news, I now have a title for The Guardian's Tree Trilogy Book One. This is the book I am working on for JuNoWriMo as well as prepping for the ACFW conference and FPP. Are you ready?

The Chains of Hethra

What do you think of the title? Does it sound cool? Memorable? Any other thoughts? Let me know in the comments section!

And, because this is a random post, I thought I would let you all know that Flaming Pen Press, the publisher I often talk about, is officially open to query letter submissions! Check out their website for details!

More news coming soon! There's a bunch of contests and such going on now. But....I've got to get to writing on that novel ;)

To the end,
Nathan
"Stand tall now and proclaim what you have seen, speak in whispered roars..."