Pages of Awesome

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Story

I apologize for the spaces between posts. I have several in the works that I'm excited for you to read :) I've been busy with school stuff and editing TGT, and the fact that my computer was down for a few days didn't exactly help with that.

Anyhow, I thought I'd upload this video I made yesterday about my testimony.

Enjoy!



To the end,
Nathan

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Little Brother is Blogging

If you're looking for the Starlighter Giveaway click here! From now on you can enter via the picture in the sidebar.

My little brother, Stephen, decided to enter the land of Bloggers. The deciding factor of whether or not he keeps the blog up will be based on readership, I can assure you lol. I thought I'd give him a royal surprise.

Jump on over to his blog and slam the first post full of comments. Act crazy, get bizarre. But surprise the bejeevies out of him.

His blog is called Live Life Loud and will likely end up being about his thoughts on faith and witnessing and whatever randomness pops into his head.

So yeah, the first random post in quite a while. Enjoy it ;)

To the end,
Nathan

Friday, April 16, 2010

Book Giveaway! - Starlighter


Bryan Davis is one of the greatest modern fantasy writers of this day. As far as teen fantasy goes at least. He's one of my favorite authors.

A few weeks ago I posted my review of Starlighter, the latest from Mr. Davis. This book begins a new series called Dragons of Starlight that I think I will thoroughly enjoy. Even if you don't like his previous works I'd be willing to bet you'll enjoy this series.

Don't want to take the risk?

Well that's fine. Because Zondervan has graciously given me a copy of this book to giveaway on this blog!

Need more of a reason to enter? Free good fantasy isn't good enough? Check out my shorter, condensed, review!

In Starlighter, by bestselling author Bryan Davis, dragons have kidnapped humans from their planet and taken them to theirs, enslaved them, tortured them, and worked them to their deaths. Years have passed since that date, and both worlds have forgotten. Darksphere, the human world, contains an organization that remembers the Lost Ones, those stolen from their world, and seeks the gateway to the dragon planet. But these people are mocked and scorned. On Starlight, the dragon world, those who remember and hold to the belief that they are not meant for slavery are similarly mocked.

But the lost will be found.

Bryan Davis again pens a beautiful, fast passed, epic tale of four teens' determination to do that which they know to be right. The plot was exhilarating, the characters were very clearly defined, and the writing was excellent as usual. Mr. Davis did what is every writer's goal--he created an adrenaline laced plot with believable characters. Given any line of dialogue I could recite the character that would have said it, each one was that real, and the story kept me thinking late into the night.

Also, this book is clearly a story filled with Christian themes. The basic plot line is a beautiful tale and challenge of reaching out to the lost. While the themes are clearly there I do believe the story can be enjoyed without noticing or understanding the allegory.

I'd recommend this book to any young adult, 10 and up. An excellent read for teens and adults.

And a cliffhanger to boot.


What's the catch? Here's what you have to do:
  • Comment on this post asking to be entered
  • For an extra entry, follow this blog, and then in your comment tell me you are following
  • For another entry, post about this giveaway on YOUR blog and in your comment give me the link
Giveaway entries are limited to those in the contiguous USA only. Sorry guys, don't have the cash to mail outta the country :-P

Tell your friends! Anyone would be lucky to read this book. It's quite the read.

To the end,
Nathan

Monday, April 12, 2010

Writing a Novel: Outlining


I ... am writing a novel.

Of course you knew that if you are reading this post.

I have been writing a novel for probably five years now, going on six this fall. And while I've been writing this novel I've gotten ideas for others, jotted down notes, chapters, brief scenes, etc. But I've never once strayed from this original project.

This project is called Redemption's Journey and will eventually be made up of four novels. It is an epic fantasy series that I have quite a few dreams for.

But it will have to wait.

This spring I set the series aside to work on my novella, The Guardian's Tree. And now, as I await its acceptance for publication, I will begin in the summer a new novel.

The Fire

Tentative title of course.

Starting a new novel for the first time in five years is scary. I haven't planned out a story since I was ten years old. Ever since then I've been a Seat-of-pants writer running off a loose outline of previous drafts. I hardly remember starting.

But, based on short stories I've written, this novella, and previous novel-start attempts, I am going to become an outline-er. If you are a SOP writer God bless you. But I can write with an outline ten times better than I can without one. Granted, it will be a very loose outline, but guidelines nonetheless.

Thus begins the new blog series and my new novel. Expect infrequent updates on this particular series. It's going to be my go-to series ;)

First thing's first for any writer.

Inspiration.

Before any writer can start writing they need a basic, general, idea. This could come in the form of an image, a phrase, a symbol, a character, or something else. Typically this happens in combination. You get an image and a phrase, an image and a character, etc. But you need a basic image. For example, The Guardian's Tree spurred from a symbolic image of a man and a tree. However, getting inspiration is another post altogether.

Expansion.

Next, you look at your basic idea in detail. Here is where I will not tell you what you do...I'll tell you what I am doing for The Fire. Take the idea, and look at it. Look around it. Fast forward in time. Rewind time. Examine in detail your basic idea. For example, for TF I had the idea of people willingly burning themselves. So it was time to ask the questions: Why are they burning themselves? Who is burning? And what is the purpose of the story as a whole.

What I ended up doing was whipping out a piece of paper and writing down everything I knew. This ended up being the climax of the story. I wrote out the setting, the chaos happening in this world, two characters, and the symbolism.

Then I whipped out another sheet and wrote the back story, and the ultimate conclusion.

These two parts were easier for me, because of the symbolism of the story. It had to be a certain way, not much getting around it. But when the reader gets a hold of the story, I will have it planned out that they will not know what has to be until it hits them. So is the plan :P lol

Characters

So I have the back story, the climax, and the ending. What comes next? Well, I thought before I started writing the details of the story I better figure out who's perspective it would be from. So I chose two characters, and in doing so added a whole new dimension to the story. At this stage, it was important for me to look at the pasts of the characters and where I saw them going. I got to look at personalities, appearances, etc and all of this based on the original big picture.

Plot

At this point, I haven't started outlining the details of the plot. But I imagine I will do the same thing. Start with the big picture, and slowly move inward.


I think that, for this story at least, that is the key and point of outlining. I was inspired by a big image, the people willingly burning....warring wolves....four mountains...etc, and through outlining I am meeting characters and developing the details of the plot. But the whole purpose of the story, using this method, will all be based on that original image--the burning people.

And I think most stories are written like this. The author has one thing in mind and everything in the story leads up to it. Everything in the story happens so that this one scene can. Everything in the LOTR happened for The Return of the King. Everything in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe happened for Aslan to rise again. Whether these scenes were the original idea or a newer one, the story revolved around them.

And I enjoy those stories. And I think it will be easier to write a story like this via outlining. And I think the story will be better for it.

To sum up, here are quick tips on outlining from a newbie:

Start Big: You don't need details until you actually write.
Think All Angles: Plot, character, past, future, etc. But especially the past. I find back stories to drive the main plot easier. The story can write itself with a good back story ;)
Spill Your Guts: Don't hold back! Make like....10 outlines if you have to and choose one or combine them!

What do you think? Do you outline or write from the hip?

To the end,
Nathan

Friday, April 9, 2010

Interview on Write Big!

I was just interviewed on a blog entitled Write Big!

To see the interview click here!

Also, consider email subscribing to this blog. Brayden, the writer, posts a lot of fun and interesting things about writing.

Another random note for a random post. I will be giving away a copy of Bryan Davis's Starlighter in a few days. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

CCC Part Four - Girl Power!


This will be the final post in the Characteristics of Characters and Their Character series (Say that one five times fast). I have a few ideas for a new series, you'll just have to wait and find out what they are. Mwhahahaha

Today we will discuss heroines--a very special and important part to many stories.

In case you didn't know, heroines are the female heroes of a story. Whether the main character or supporting I am honestly moved by these characters. Sometimes in positive ways, sometimes in negative ways.

If you haven't noticed, most fantasy stories are written with male heroes, male supporting characters, and if there is a girl she's the lover of the hero. Most of the time.

But, there are many (increasingly so) stories that use the girl as the hero and have important female heroes throughout the story. These are the heroines. These characters excite me.

Dragons in Our Midst, The Door Within, Inkheart, The Sword of the Dragon, The Lord of the Rings...all of these had wonderful heroines.

All of these women/girls have the following in common:
  1. They are strong in mind
  2. They are strong in body
  3. They are strong in soul
  4. They, often times, stir the heroes to action
  5. Many times strong willed
  6. Tender and sweet at the heart
I think that for girls one of the biggest turn offs a story can have is for the writer to create a wimpy heroine. Where the girls are always the ones in need, they can never do anything for themselves, and where without the masculine heroes they would be dead or meaningless.

This is not only plain ridiculous, but it is also contrary to what I believe to true purpose of fantasy to be.

So if a good heroine isn't wimpy then what is she?

Naturally, she would be strong.

Strength in the mind is where I would first begin. This aspect is more commonly found than some of the others. Society likes to admit that women are smarter than guys (Admit it guys....they are). But as a newer writer, and a male, we might forget this.

The hero can get easily excited. I'd actually go as far to say...if your hero stays calm all the time...he might not be the best hero. If your hero is getting excited, impatient, angry, or something similar it is often the best salve to have the heroine step in and save the day.

The masculine nature of the hero would tell him to run straight into the faces of the enemy army. But, of course, this would not be the best idea if he was outnumbered 10 to 1. Often times the heroine steps in with reason.

To step out of fantasy, this is especially true of romance stories. Think Romeo and Juliet. Romeo is head over heels for her, but, at first lol, Juliet is thinking more rationally of things and forces Romeo to sleep on his thoughts of marriage.

And if your main protagonist is a girl this is also important. I like reading intelligent, not stupid, heroines. Don't you?

Next would be the physical aspect.

We guys like to brag at being bigger and stronger, *flexes*, but though this may be "technically" true, this has no bearing at all on whether or not girls can defend themselves. Honestly, I know girls that are offended when chivalry etc goes so far as to underestimate their physical prowess.

And you see this in good heroines as well.

A good heroine can and will defend herself. Actually, showing the controversy between the genders is fun to read/write as well. You have a hero trying to be honorable and a heroine that just wants to do what is right. Most of the time, the girl ends up winning ;)

Again, weak wimpy heroines are boring. My favorite characters are often times the fiery girls, sword in hand, charging the gates of hell itself. The tough gals. Plus, let's just think marketing here. If you write a story with wimpy girls....what kind of message does that send to your readers?

Like I said, fantasy is meant to be inspiring. Are you inspiring girls to be wimps?

The spiritual side of this is also very interesting.

In Dragons in Our Midst, by Bryan Davis, I was so emotionally connected to the heroine, Bonnie Silver, because of the strength of her soul. She was so pure, innocent, and yet had all the powerful aspects listed above.

I think what I am trying to get at with these last few points is confidence. Heroines need to be confident. Spiritually, physically, and mentally. Sure, they can doubt just like a guy. And that's when you would shape the male characters. But, especially as supporting characters, they need to be capable of strength.

This next point is perhaps my favorite. When you have a masculine hero and your heroines are supporting characters, it seems that the girls are the ones that give the heroes a reason to fight. They are the reason the knights go to battle--to guard the fair ladies. Whether they are capable of defending themselves or not, that is the reason a man fights.

And so, when you are writing heroines, this is very important.

I actually have a lot to say on the topic, but I'm not sure how to word it all.

What are your thoughts? We can discuss this in more depth in the comments section if you'd like.

Oh yes, and now for an epic quote:

I am not a man!


Let the battle of the sexes begin :D lol

To the end,
Nathan

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Guardian's Tree: Edits Complete!

I'm sitting in my school's library and I just completed my very first novella. Not only is the story written, see post on its completion, but it has now officially passed through one round of editing. I like to call this round my personal edits. Meaning, no one but me edited it. I got some input from my father on the plot, but no one has critiqued the whole story yet.

Editing, to be quite honest, is a lot of fun for me. I may be the only writer on the face of the planet that feels this way, but I thoroughly enjoy editing. I love writing the first draft as much as anyone, but the rewriting and the editing is a lot easier in my opinion. I can think things through and look at connections and expand.

I'm a huge fan of expanding.

Most writers cut when they edit, my problem (and specialty) is expansion.

In this story, it worked out better that I was going to expand. The story's original draft was maybe 11,000 words and while 10,000 was the minimum that the publisher wanted, I was shooting for 15,000. To give you a rough estimate, 15K is about 60 pages.

So I expanded, and I think the story is much better than it was originally.

So now the story is off to my critique buddies. Good old Jacob Parker and Christian Miles (when he's done critiquing Jacob's book Kestrel's Midnight Song). And that's the other thing I love--feedback. Because I rarely get it. Good and bad, GIVE IT TO ME. lol

So what about you? What do/don't you like about editing? Have you found critique groups helpful? What is the biggest problem you see in people's writing?

To the end,
Nathan

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Resurection Day Poem


Nothing long and spiffy today. Enjoy the celebration of our King! Here's a poem I wrote this morning.

One night the darkness covered all
And Death raised sickle, proud and tall
A King was struck to death by Hell
And evil relished in His fall

An old King entered kingdom lost
Prepared and ready for the cost
Armed to the teeth, he dueled with Death
And died upon that bloodied cross

The battle raged through time and space
Though Hell could not behold His face
The Light, it burned, and tore at Death
The Reaper fled my Lord in haste

My King made chase, blade raised to slay
One that with whom us harlots play
His sword devoured sin and death
And night gave way to light of day

Death tried but could not save its den
Death fought but could not keep Him in
It fell to power, righteous, strong
"Death, today I AM your end"

With Death was sin forced yet to fall
Breaking chains and freeing all
Imprisonment was shattered, lost
And vic'ry march began its call

Today there shines light in the dark
Today the hopeless sing with lark
Today the broken are made new
Today we sing, "How great Thou art"

Recall today His victory vast
How Death can no more hold us fast
Take up the cry of redeemed slaves
Shout, "Free at last! I'm free at last!"

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Romance of Good Friday


Today is Good Friday. There, I reaffirm yet again my skill of stating the obvious :-)

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. Typically I'm off school, the weather is gorgeous, and I'm already dreaming of the Easter Bunny (Easter is close to Christmas in my house ;-) ). Plus, spring fever is in the air and all that jazzy goodness.

What could be better?

This year, however, is slightly different.

Now, I go to a public school. I didn't get off today. The people around me don't know, or could care less, about what this day means. "Good" is an oxymoron to them, and it's just another day of the year some cooks named after something random.

And I see this is a positive.

For one, the story doesn't get old--I don't hear it as often. For another, the day opens up conversations that might not otherwise have existed.

So when I was praying at the flag pole this morning one thought was on my mind:

Teach me to love as You love.

Good Friday is a love story. It's also an epic battle story, a tragedy, and a history story. But above all it's a love story.

The King of the world had a Son. And this Son desired more than anything to love and be loved. And so God sent His Son to this earth to court and win over His love.

Coincidentally, or by hand, I am reading White by Ted Dekker. And this theme of love is coursing through its veins. Not to mention the facts that God's been pounding the word "love" in my head for the past month. And so when I was at the pole today I was not surprised to be moved to love, and when I sat down to write this post I was not surprised to find the words "Romance of Good Friday" in the title.

God is speaking. He is showing Me (and, if you're reading this, you) His heart.

So what is the romance of this story?

A King, a Prince, a lost bride. I could see this on a romance novel.

But the difference is that this story is real. This one is happening as I type, as you read, as the bride slips away into darkness.

Jesus Christ fell in love with humanity. But they could not love him back as they were dead in their sins. They couldn't love him back. It wasn't possible. They couldn't understand His love nor could they understand love period. Their minds were dead, and their hearts even more so.

But, things had been set in motion by His father. And His father knew that the only way to free them of their broken minds and dead bodies was for someone that lived to die.

Christ was the only one truly alive. He was not dead in sin. He knew no sin. He loved and was love.

And so Christ bore the cross for the sake of his bride. To woo her to himself he laid down his very own life.

There is quite a bit to learn from this story. Not only did it provide you and me a chance of survival and a true understanding of love. It also illustrates the characteristics of a man. It also illustrates the role of the Christian today.

The man laid down his life for the woman he loved.

The Christ(ian) laid down his life for the lost.

Eventually I'd like to do a full post on this first point but I don't have the time, or space, at the moment. But men need to remember this illustration of love. Boys and men. Christ hung on the Cross shouting out at us "THIS is love! Until you will willingly die for her you are not deserving of my daughter!"

And secondly is the relationship of the lost and found.

People have this idea that because the lost are...lost, covered in sin, etc that we should either A) become like them in an attempt to win their attraction or B) completely disown them.

But looking at how Christ wooed his bride we cannot accept either of these options. Christ didn't look at his bride, us....those who would/could be saved, and say "She's dirty. She's a whore. I love her but I am too clean," and then dirty himself all up. NO! He remained true to who he was, remained pure of sin, and wooed her another way.

In the same manner he didn't look at this bride and say, "I'm too good for her. She doesn't deserve me. She's dirty. She's a whore. She is not worthey." And then walk away and never speak to her again.

What did he do instead?

He sacrificed himself for her.

So what does this mean for us?

Quite simple really. We are not to dirty ourselves. We are not called to become like the world in effort to make them come to the saving trust of Jesus Christ. Our faith, our peace, our freedom alone is enough to attract them. We don't need to go and spoil these very things to win their affections.

And we are also not supposed to live detached from the world. In the world but not of it. That's the key. We can't woo them if we don't assosiate with them. And we won't be a faithful bride ourselves if we go and sleep with sin to help attract the lost.

We are to sacrifice ourselves. Just as Christ sacrificed himself.

Give of your time, give of your heart...

Love the lost.

I wrote a poem once. It ended something like this:

...
Love them for their maker
And bring them to the fold


May we woo the bride of Christ.

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