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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Home for Christmas--Wherever That IsPart II

A few who read the first story wanted to find out what would happen once Sisko brought the ogre home for Christmas. I thought the story did end well enough for the original purpose, but obviously there's more story as well! So I decided to bring on part two so you can see the consequences of Sisko inviting an ogre home for Christmas.

Sisko and Josh strolled down the street in Raul. Xilner, their newly befriended ogre, followed close on their footsteps. Citizens of the town stared at the ogre as he walked by. One man in a horse drawn cart nearly ran over a child as he stared at the bulky creature.

Josh turned down a street. "See you later. Have a good Nativity feast." He smiled at Xilner. "And you too, my friend."

"Thank you." Xilner bowed.

"And Sisko..." Josh drummed his fingers on his jaw. "Good luck with your mother."

Sisko smiled. "Have a great one yourself. I'm sure my mother will be fine, eventually."

Josh turned and proceeded to his own house. Sisko resumed his trek toward his own.

Xilner stepped up beside Sisko. "You sure your mother will be all right with me?"

Sisko sighed. "It'll be a shock to her, I'm sure. But you are my guest, and I think she'll come around. She's a very loving woman."

"Is there anything I can do?"

"Just be your loving self."

Xilner grunted. "An ogre? Loving isn't usually associated with us."

"You'll be fine. Don't worry." Sisko considered the best way to break this to his mother now that the time had come. They traveled down his street until he arrived in front of the white fence to his house.

Sisko turned to Xilner. "Stay out here."

Xilner nodded.

Sisko walked up the steps and entered the house.

"Sisko, is that you?" His mother's voice rang from the kitchen.

"Yes, Mother." He stepped into the kitchen.

"It's about time. I'm busy getting ready for the Nativity service and you're out playing around. Probably with Josh no doubt."

"I wouldn't say playing around. Josh and I were exchanging presents." Sisko sat at the table.

"Oh, well that's nice. What did he get you?"

Sisko rubbed his chin. "Well, ah...a new friend."

She turned from her dough kneading to stare into his eyes. "Josh got you a friend for Christmas?"

"Yes, and a friend who didn't have anywhere to go for Christmas. I hope it is all right, but I invited him to spend Christmas with us."

She kneaded the dough two more times, slammed her hand into it, and folded it over into a wooden slab, covering it with a cloth. She wiped her hands as she gazed into Sisko's eyes.

"You could have asked me before you invited him."

"Well..." Sisko bit his lip. "That would have been nearly impossible since we were miles away."

She put her hands on her hips. "Miles away? Did Josh do something crazy again?"

Sisko shrugged. "I tried to stop him, but he used a transport spell before I could react. Next thing I know, I'm in another land, who knows where. I met my new friend there. When I found out he would be alone for Christmas, I was sure you would agree I had to invite him."

She stared at the ceiling for a moment before resting her eyes on Sisko. "You have a big heart, son. I can appreciate that. It certainly is the spirit of Christmas to help those without family. I'll set another place at the table tomorrow and increase the size of the meal."

Sisko jumped from his chair and hugged her. "You're the best." He released her. "He's outside waiting. Would you like to meet him?"

She strolled toward the door. "Of course. Why wouldn't I want to meet your new friend. We can't leave him outside." She reached for the doorknob.

Sisko put a hand on hers. "Hold on, first you should know..."


Sisko breathed deep. "His name is Xilner."

"You could have told me that when you introduced me." She reached for the knob again.

"Wait!" He pulled her hand back.

"Sisko, do you want me to meet him or not?"

"There's one other thing you should know about him."

She stared at him.

Sisko tried to think of a way to break this gently, but nothing came to mind. This was as gentle as it would get.

"My friend, he's an ogre."

She continued staring at Sisko as if his words failed to register. She appeared frozen, but then she sucked in a breath and let it out slowly.

"Are you sure this is a good idea, Son? We're as likely to be eaten by him as to eat with him." She peered out the window and stopped breathing again.

"Mother, he's really nice. If he wanted us for Christmas dinner, he had plenty of opportunity with Josh and I. I doubt I would be here right now."

She shook her head. "I don't know. He's so big."

"He's my friend. I promised him he wouldn't be alone this Christmas. If I need to, I'll spend it with him out of the house."

She pulled away from the window and faced Sisko. "I'd better send your father out to kill another calf."

Sisko smiled. "Thank you, Mother."

She straighten her dress. "Now can we meet him?" She put on a smile and swung the door open. "Xilner! How wonderful to meet you."


The time neared for the Nativity service at Church. Xilner sat on the floor, not finding a chair big enough for his rear. "I've never been to a Nativity service before. What's it like?"

Sisko pulled on a fresh pair of socks. "Very joyful and reverent. Just what you'd expect at the birth of a king."

"You'll have to tell me more about this king sometime."

Screams echoed from the street outside. Then loud, deep voices gruffly arced through the night air.

Xilner's jaw dropped open. "Not now. Not here!"

Sisko leaped to his feet and raced toward the door.

Xilner scrambled to his feet. "Wait, Sisko! Don't go out there."

Sisko swung the door open and stumbled outside. If anything bad was to happen, he couldn't allow it to happen inside the house. He didn't want to put his family in danger.

Sisko gulped as he examined four ogres holding torches in hands. Xilner exited the house and stopped on the porch.

One of the ogres spun his head around and saw Xilner. "There you are. We followed your smell from your house."

Xilner clinched his fists. "Can't you allow me this one luxury?"

"We told you not to leave your house. We warned you what would happen if any should help you." He turned to Sisko. "Men, we have our Christmas dinner."

Xilner leaped into the yard beside Sisko. "I will not let you take him."

The ogre threw his head back and laughed. "As if you could do anything to stop me. Have you not learned anything?"

Xilner growled. "I've learned more from this human than I ever have from you."

Sisko whispered toward Xilner. "Is he serious about eating me?"

Xilner nodded. "I did say some ogres do eat people." Xilner met Sisko's eyes. "Problem is, he's a wizard too."

Sisko groaned. "Naturally. Why wouldn't an ogre be a wizard. Especially one who wants to eat me."

Xilner stepped toward the group. "Leave us alone."

The ogre grinned. "Good idea. Why don't you leave us alone!" He cast his hand out and mumbled some words. A bluish light emanated from his hand and enveloped Xilner. He froze, grew bright, then dimmed until he had disappeared.

Sisko felt his gut wrench. "Where did you send him?"

"Back where he belongs. Alone, in his house."

Sisko stepped toward them. "What gives you the right! He's my friend."

"Not anymore. You're our dinner." He spoke more words Sisko couldn't hear and flung his hand out. Bands of silver whipped themselves around his body, immobilizing him. Sisko fell onto the ground with a thud.

The world dimmed. Sisko fought against it, but the spell pressed in upon him, overran his thoughts, numbed his fingers and toes, and then darkness rolled over him, drowning him in frightening thoughts and dreams.


Sisko heard gruff voices and felt rocks jabbing him in the back. He cracked his eyes open and attempted to wiggle into a more comfortable position. Tree's lined a clearing. In the center of the clearing, a cast iron pot sat on a fire, filled with bubbling liquid. Several ogres sat around the area. Some in conversation, some napping.

Sisko found the moon in the night sky. The Nativity service would be in progress now, and his mother would be worried sick. Probably blame Xilner for carrying him away, never to be heard from again.

A foot jabbed Sisko in the back. He rolled over.

An ogre knelt beside him. "You're a bit scrawny, but the bones are the tastiest part anyway. I think we're about ready to chop you up and add you to the soup. Any last words before you provide us with enjoyment?"

"Yes. If I get a last request, I would that you cook me in the main steam house in Raul."

The ogre laughed and shook his head. "You think ogres are dumb, don't you. You think we don't know about your steam house? When's the last time you saw an ogre enter there?"

Sikso sighed. "Never."

"Exactly. And for good reason. We know what would happen to us in there. Now, do you have any last words at all? Any message you want us to convey to your parents?"

Sisko didn't want these guys going anywhere near his family. "No, but we have some calves you can have for your dinner. No need to eat me."

The ogre grinned. "We eat cattle all the time. Humans, on the other hand, are a delicacy. Only for special occasions, like Christmas."

Sisko shook his head. "How can you celebrate a birth with a death?"

The ogre drew out a long knife. "Who says we're celebrating a birth? Christmas for an ogre only means two things. Giving gifts and eating good. You're the eating good part." He turned to the ogre manning the pot. "Is the broth ready for the meat?"

It nodded. "Good and ready."

The ogre flipped the knife around so that the blade pointed down. "Nothing personal, you understand."

Sisko's mind raced. What could he do? "My name's Sisko. What's yours?"

The ogre sputtered. "I don't need to know my food's name, nor do I give mine to a meal. Hold still, I'll make this painless." He pulled the knife back.

That didn't work. Sisko closed his eyes and gritted his teeth.

"Stop!" Another ogre entered the clearing. Sisko flung his eyes open to see Xilner moving toward them.

The other ogres all stopped what they did and stared. The ogre over Sisko ground his teeth. "How did you get here?"

"I've had a lot of time to study in my house. Some of my time I spent on learning spells."

The ogre curled his lips. "If so, why haven't you used them before?"

"I didn't have a reason before. Now I do." He stared at Sisko and smiled.

The ogre threw a hand out and said something under his breath. A flash of light blasted toward Xilner, but Xilner cast his arms up and it blasted short of its target as if hitting an invisible wall.

Xilner raced toward them.

The ogre over Sisko pulled his knife back and plunged it toward Sisko's neck. A hand grabbed the knife's hilt and shoved it back up, the tip missing Sisko's neck by less than a quarter inch.

The two ogres rolled onto the ground. Xilner ended up under the other ogre. The knife pressed toward Xilner, the tip of the blade inching downward.

Sisko prayed for God to do something. He couldn't even move his arms and feet. Only pray and hope it would be enough.

But his gut wretched when Xilner's grip gave way, and the knife plunged into his heart. "No! Xilner!" Sisko felt his eyes tearing up.

The ogre lifted himself to his knees, and then pulled the knife from Xilner's chest. Xilner breathed twice before his chest rose once more, fell, and then remained still.

Sisko wiggled, but his binds remained strong. The ogre knelt beside him once more. "Now his blood will be mingled with your own. We'll still gnaw on your bones." He raised the blade. "Time to finish this."

He thrust the blade once more toward Sisko. But he stopped in midair as another blade shoved its way through the ogre's chest. He exhaled a gasp, his eyes wide. Then he fell over onto the ground, revealing a bright angel holding a red sword.

The rest of the ogres scattered like cockroaches when a lamp is lit, leaving Sisko alone with the angel. The bright being waved his hands and the silver bands snapped one by one until Sisko could lift himself to his feet.

He gazed at his rescuer. "Who are you?"

"You don't recognize me?" He cast his arms out as if allowing Sisko to get a better look.

"Sorry, not at all."

"I'm Xilner."

Sisko's gasped. "Xilner! How? You don't look anything like him."

"This ogre put a curse on me, turning me into one of them. I denied them of a meal one other time. This ogre had cast a spell on me that locked me into an ogre's body and required me to stay in the house where you found me.

"But there was one condition he didn't know about. An angel told me if I were to ever give my life for another, the curse would be broken, for no greater love can one show than to give his life for another."

Sisko smiled. "So when he killed you in your attempt to defend me, the curse died and this is the real you."

"As God created me. Yes."

Sisko smiled. "I always knew you were beautiful inside."

"Thank you for being a friend. Without you, I couldn't have been saved. I had to have someone to die for."

Sisko had to grin. "You're welcome."

"Have a blessed Nativity celebration. You'll find Raul about a mile to the east." Xilner vanished.

Sisko didn't waste any time grabbing a torch and jogging back home before the ogres decided to show up again. He dodged trees and brush until the village of Raul broke into view. He kicked up dirt as he shot through the streets until he reached the steps of the church.

He put out the torch in his hand and laid it by the entrance. He entered the service to hear the singing of the Nativity hymn. He slid in by his mother.

She jerked and saw Sisko beside her. She bent down and whispered, "Where were you? I thought that ogre had dragged you away."

Sisko smiled at her. "Helping a friend to give birth, actually."

About that time the priest raised his hand and said, "Christ is born!"

The congregation responded in unison, "Glorify Him."

Sisko felt a warmth settle upon him. He mumbled under his breath, "Yes, it was glorious."


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Home for Christmas—Wherever That Is

As a Christmas Gift for my blog readers, I'm offering this free 1922 word Christmas story from the Realities' world. What happens when you mix an ogre and Christmas together? You'll never guess. Read on to find out. And have a Merry Christmas!

Sikso held out a gift. He hoped Josh would like it.

Josh smiled and lifted the gift from Sisko's palm. A couple of children passed by on the road in front of his house as Josh ripped the wrapping off.

They had decided to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. Sisko wished he could have found something prettier than green leaves stitched together, but he had nothing else to wrap it in. He put such thoughts aside. He knew his best friend Josh wouldn't mind. The excitement of the Christmas celebration forgave many minor trespasses.

Josh pulled it out of the wrapping. A polished wooden stick. Josh smiled. "A wand."

Sisko nodded. "I carved, sanded, and stained it myself. Should be useful in your wizard training."

Josh waved it around. "I like it. Thanks." He glanced at Sisko and back to his new wand. "Did your ring add anything to it?"

"No, why would it?" The ring he'd received allowed him to do miracles, heal people mostly, help them in general. He'd been charged to be his brother's keeper, helping whoever God led him to.

"Just wondering." Josh examined the wand close up. "As a matter of fact, this will help me to give you a gift."

Sisko raised an eyebrow. "Josh, tell me what you're planning."

He smiled. "That would spoil the surprise." He twirled the wand through the air over his head and mumbled some words.

"Josh, hold on!" Sisko jumped from the porch. He felt a wave of distortion pass over him. Combined with the movement, it caused his stomach to lurch. His front yard vanished and a forest of trees took their place.

Josh scanned the area as if searching. Sisko followed his eyes to see a house nestled among the trees. Josh pointed at the house. "Does that look familiar?"

Sisko shook his head. "Never seen this place before."

Josh sighed. "I thought I had the transport spell down better."

Sisko frowned. "Where are we?"

Josh stared at the ground. "I don't know."

"But you sent us here."

"I thought I had a better picture of your Uncle Seth's house."

Sisko slapped his forehead. "So that's why you kept asking me all those questions about my uncle's house."

"Milnore said a transport spell worked if you had a clear image of where you needed to transport to."

Sisko leaned against a tree. "So why didn't it work? I think I painted a clear enough picture of my uncle's house."

Josh thought for a second. "Milnore must have meant I needed to be there. To have a complete visual picture in my mind, I have to experience the place."

"Do me a favor? When you're experimenting with spells, leave me out of it?"

Josh hung his head. "Sorry. I only wanted to let you visit with your Uncle for Christmas."

Sisko placed a hand on Josh's shoulder. "You had good intentions. No harm done. Just send us back. You do have a mental image of our village, don't you?"

He smiled. "Of course."

The door to the house flung open and then a young boy flew from it. A man wielding an ax chased after him. "Get back here, you thief!"

Sisko's heart leaped within him. He glanced at Josh. "I'm supposed to help someone here."

"Are you serious? Who, that boy?"

Sisko shrugged. "That's the only one I can see in trouble at the moment."

Josh shook his head. "You can't go running between that boy and an ax-wielding man."

Sisko jogged toward them. "Someone has to."

Josh huffed. "And of course it has to be you. Some Christmas present this turned out to be." He ran after Sisko.

As Sisko drew closer, the man's features grew clearer. Despite his size, he appeared hunched over, and big warts protruded on his forehead and cheeks. The young boy fled too fast. His black hair, shoulder length, flapped behind him as he ran.

"It's an ogre," Josh huffed from behind Sisko.

An ogre! Sisko had never met a live ogre before. The stories he'd heard weren't too flattering either. And this one's face, jaw locked as he chased after the boy, didn't dispel those impressions.

The boy tripped and tumbled to a stop in the grass. The ogre caught up with him and held the ax over his head. "Give it back!"

Sisko drew close enough to attract their attention. They both watched as Sisko and Josh slowed to a stop before them.

The ogre growled. "Stay out. This is none of your business."

Sisko stepped beside the boy. "When I see bullies chasing someone with an ax, it becomes my business."

The ogre pointed at the boy. "He stole from me. I have a right to get it back."

The boy shook his head. "He wants to eat me."

The ogre laughed. "I don't want to eat him."

Josh cleared his throat. "I heard ogres like to eat people."

The ogre shrugged. "Some do." He raised his ax higher. "I don't have to explain myself to you two. Step aside. I have no reason to cut you down, but I will if I have to."

Sisko nodded his head. "Sorry. You'll have to kill me first."

Josh's eyes widened. "Sisko, what are you doing?"

The ogre nodded. "He's right. Why would you want to die for someone you don't even know? Why protect a criminal?"

"Because he's worth as much in God's eyes as you or me. All I know is you're chasing him with an ax."

The ogre sighed. "Have it your way." He pulled the ax back.

Josh flipped his wand out and said some words. Mud flew from the ground and splatted over the ogre's eyes. The ogre dropped the ax and then wiped his eyes. "You idiots!"

The young boy leaped to his feet and fled into the forest.

Josh motioned for Sisko to leave. "You've done your helping thing, now let's go."

Sisko checked his heart. "No, I'm not done here."

Josh groaned. "Why not?" He watched as the ogre splashed water over his eyes from a basin by the side of the house.

"All I know is I still haven't helped the one I'm here for. The boy must not have been it."

Josh stared at the sky. "I would at least recommend we go to a nearby town to find the one you're supposed to help. I'd rather not still be here when the ogre comes back. He's not likely to be too happy with us."

Sisko ran fingers through his hair. "I feel this ogre is the one I'm supposed to help."

"You can't be serious."

Sisko watched the ogre wiping his face with cloth. "I'm afraid I am." But what the ogre needed help with, Sisko couldn't imagine. Finding out would be the tough part.

The ogre approached them. "You two! Why did you interfere?"

Sisko glanced at Josh before facing the ogre. "Like I said, it appeared you intended to hurt the boy."

"I wouldn't have hurt him. I only wanted to scare him." The ogre sat on a stump. "He's stole from me before. It's become a game with them. See who can steal from the fat, slow ogre." He stared into the forest.

Josh glanced toward Sisko, and then back to the ogre. "What did you do to deserve that?"

The ogre jerked his head up and glared at Josh. "Why do you think I deserve it? Because I'm an ogre!"

Josh stared at the ground. "Uh, no, that's not what I meant."

"Of course it's what you meant. Everyone assumes because I'm an ugly and lumbering hulk that I must be mean, dangerous, and deserve every bad treatment." He barred his teeth. "What are you two still doing here anyway. You've done your humiliate-the-ogre bit. Begone and leave me in peace."

Sisko wondered if the poor ogre's problems would be changed if he appeared more handsome, trim, and winsome. He could change that with one prayer and the power of his ring. He reached out a hand, but stopped. No, it didn't feel right. The creature had been created an ogre, and he shouldn't mess with it. But then what should he do with his healing ring to help this ogre with his problems?

Josh met Sisko's eyes. He motioned with his head to leave as the ogre suggested.

The ogre stood. "Go away. I've no patience for trouble makers." He stepped toward the house.

Go away? The words resounded in Sisko's mind. How lonely must this ogre be? Sisko froze. Orge. That's all he was to the boy, to those who lived in this area. To even Josh and himself.

Sisko stepped forward. "My name is Sisko and this is Josh. What's yours?"

The ogre stopped and paused. A few seconds passed, then he turned. "What did you say?"

"I asked, what's your name?"

The ogre's eyes softened and his mouth relaxed. "No one's ever asked me that before." For the first time, a hint of a smile creased his lips. "My name is Xilner. Glad to meet your acquaintance, Sisko and Josh."

Sisko bowed. "The honor is all mine, Xilner."

He sat back on the stump. "So tell me, how come you stayed?"

Sisko grinned. "Because God told me I needed to help you."

"Help me?" He shook his head. "That's a first. No one has ever helped me. Called me names, scream at me, beat on me, steal from me, yes. But help me? No."

An idea popped into Sisko's head. He'd likely get in big trouble for this. "Xilner, do you have any plans for Christmas."

"Plans? What I do every year. Sit in my house, munch on food, and watch the world drift by oblivious to me."

Sisko nodded. "Not this year. This year, I'm inviting you to my house for Christmas."

Josh's mouth fell open. "Your mother isn't going to like this."

Sisko smiled. "Probably not. But I have a feeling Xilner will grow on them pretty quick."

Xilner grinned. "I wouldn't be too much of a problem, would I?"

Sisko waved a hand. "No, no. You're my personal guest."

"And your mother isn't going to like it." Josh glanced at Sisko. "Just sayin'."

Sisko stared into the sky and nodded his head.

Xilner rose and headed toward his house. "I'll get ready. I need to change clothes." He stopped and turned around. "Sisko, thank you."

"For the invite?"

"Well, yes, for the invite. But mostly for treating me as a person." He grinned big before heading back to the house.

"What do you know, Josh. I didn't even need to use my ring to fix this one. He's just lonely. Needs someone to care about him." Sisko slapped Josh on the back. "You gave me the greatest Christmas present ever."

Josh watched Sisko from the corner of his eye. "Really? You're helping him. What are you getting out of it?"

"The satisfaction of being my brother's keeper. And for finding that brother in the most unlikely of beings."

Josh crossed his arms. "Well, glad I could help. I had this planned from the beginning. Just wanted it to be a surprise."

"Right. Now how about getting that transport spell back in gear. And please, please, get a good image in your mind of Raul before you do the spell? I don't want to end up in some strange place for Christmas."

He blew air from his mouth. "No problem. I'm ready." He watched as Xilner exited the door. "But I know your mother isn't going to like this."

The End

Residential Aliens Goes Printy!

If you like good fantasy and science fiction or know someone who does, you may want to consider a subscription to Residential Aliens print magazine either for yourself or as a gift.

Readers of this blog know that I've had some stories appear in the web version of this magazine previously. The editor, Lyn Perry, had done a great job culling through stories and finding the gems. But many would rather read such great stories on paper than on a computer screen. Well, now you can!

He's offering an annual subscription of $25.00 for six issues, one every other month. You can't go wrong if you love a good story that takes you to new worlds, strange places, an all in a manner that is not only good for you, but an enjoyable ride.

Check it out. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Book Review: Seabirdby Sherry Thompson

SeabirdOne might be tempted to think a story where a character gets whisked away to a strange fantasy world would be full of trite fantasy plots. You'll find none of that here. No elves, no dwarfs, wizards, dragons. Instead, you get enchanters, young ones, seabirds, and various people set in a well-crafted world, deep in its own history and cultures. Just exploring this new world with Cara is its own reward as Sherry Thompson does a great job of putting the reader firmly into this new world with detail and descriptions that paint a picture, but don't get in the way of the story.

But it doesn't stop there. While Lewis-like in its basic premise, the allegory, while there, is with a lighter touch. The Narentian god, Alphesis, is obviously an analogy to Jesus Christ. The character only appears at key moments and doesn't devolve into a deus ex machina solution to the dangers faced, a problem Lewis had in some of his Narnia novels. Nor would the secular reader feel they were preached at.

What you do have is a modern fantasy along the lines of Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams, but with Sherry Thompson's own stamp firmly on it, making it her story. Cara Marshall is pulled into this new world, where she goes from being the scared teenager, to reluctant hero, to finding in herself the ability to sacrifice her own desires for those of others. The character arc is well built and satisfying.

The writing is well done. It has a big of a choppy feel to it at times, but this is due to the character's thought patterns being on the fragmented side. Less than a handful of times I had to stop and think where she was going, but those were far and few in between, and didn't distract me. While you might spot a typo here and there, the grammar is clean, the writing in most cases clear, and the story well-told.

The story does get a little slow at the beginning as Cara fights her calling to save these people, but it quickly accelerates and the action grows intense. There is a good touch of humor and pathos to the story. Death is a reality, and Cara faces her own doubts and deals with them in multiple ways. The struggle feels real, and I found myself rooting for her.

This is an enjoyable read with an original story, a rich world, and a solid cast of characters, both the main character and the supporting cast. The story is great for young adults, even young teens, but will be appreciated by adults as well who enjoy a solid fantasy that isn't like everything else out there.

I recommend reading this book if you enjoy a good fantasy story.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Review: "Seven Archangels: Annihilation"by Jane Lebak

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="260" caption="Seven Archangels: Annihilation"]Seven Archangels: Annihilation[/caption]

Seven Archangels: Annihilation
by Jane Lebak
ISBN: 0979307945

If you like angels and demons, this may be the book for you. Whereas the TV program "Touched By an Angel" played out in this world, this book primarily allows one to experience the world of angels and demons.

Certainly a difficult subject to pull off, simply because so many people have very set ideas of what angels and demons are like, as well as a theology about them. And one should be warned, this is not your daddy's angel book—unless you give it to him for Christmas. If you come at this book thinking this needs to conform to your theology of how angels are and act, you'll have a problem. Not that this book doesn't conform to a theology of angels, but one does have to keep in mind that this is fiction, not reality. The author isn't saying, "this is how angels really are and act." So if one comes at it giving the author some leeway in defining that world and knowing it may not sync with one's own theology one hundred percent, you'll enjoy this book.

The premise of the book is interesting. It boils down to what if Satan could kill an angel? In this story, he believes he can, and makes the attempt. And it appears he has succeeded in annihilating Gabriel. Can the other angels do anything to save Gabriel? Is one of them next? And what about God? Why did He allow this? The story follows the various angels and demons attempting to come to terms with Gabriel's annihilation.

If you're looking for an action packed book, this may not be for you. There is action to be had, but there are also chapters of dialog and waiting. Not that nothing is happening, but the pacing as far as action goes bogs down through the middle of the book, sandwiched between some well written action sequences in the beginning and the end.

But if you're wanting character interaction, look no further. A strong cast of angels and demons interact with one another, with well defined personalities and characters. I would suggest that the strong point of this novel is the cast of interesting characters and how they interact with one another. If that type of novel appeals to you, get this book and have at it.

If there is a weakness to the book, it would have to be the difficulty getting into the story. I think there are three reasons for this. One, while the cast of characters is the novel's strong point, they also contribute to the time it takes to get into the story. There are simply so many of them that it takes a while to match names with angels/demons. I almost felt I needed a program as in baseball to keep the players straight. But after some time, I had no trouble knowing who was who. It simply took three or four chapters to reach that point. And I'm on the slower side than others in that regard, so not all will have that same experience.

Two, the angel/demon world is so new and unlike our own that I was never sure what all the "rules" were as to how it operated. The strangeness of it kept me from sinking right into the story, attempting to acclimate myself to the world setting. Eventually I got there too, but it contributed to the delay. And each time a new power was revealed, I had to readjust the world's rules in my mind.

Three, while the point of view was well done and seamless in its execution so that I wasn't distracted from the story by it, it is written in a more omniscient view. Sometimes it sank into a close limited third with several of the characters, other times pulling back to a more omniscient perspective. While that point of view was necessary to tell the story, it did add to the time it took to get comfortable with the characters and their world.

I would say that by the fifth to sixth chapter or so, I didn't think as much about these things. If you're willing to spend a little time getting to know the characters and the world, if you like seeing a well developed setting, the story is worth the effort.

For the reader who enjoys a new world and a cast of interesting characters dealing with deep issues that we humans have faced for thousands of years, you don't want to miss out on this book. Despite the new world, and the angelic/demonic powers, what strikes me most is the very human issues it touches upon as this tale unfolds. And in that, it can teach us a lot about ourselves.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

To Praise or Critique? Is That the Question?

Do the writers who read this blog workshop your novels?

An interesting question. I bring this up for a couple of reasons. One, there are so many critique groups out there for critiquing stories. No doubt about that. I've been involved with one on-line group since 2006. And I've worked in a smaller, more personal one for some years as well.

And I have to say, both have been a big help. The first one I joined shortly after getting my feet wet was a big help in many ways. I had no clue what I was doing, and I learned a lot. And the novel I've had published I can say is a better novel for having gone through the critique group I'm a part of. I had some blind spots that were uncovered concerning the plot, and it became much richer of a story as a result.

So, upon reading the blog postings from Dean Wesley Smith titled: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Workshops, I had to take a second look on this topic. He certainly makes one think through these things, and I'm sure that makes him very happy.

His post does answer one question I had. That is, do professional authors who have made it use these groups? I sort of doubted it, because the time it takes for me to get a novel critiqued in one of these group, posting one to two chapters a week, it can take half a year or more, if the critiquers keep the pace up steadily. Since a lot of authors earning a living at writing fiction crank our more than one or two books a year, I had serious doubts that many, if any, used the sort of on-line or even in-person critique groups that I was using. It simply wouldn't be efficient time usage for them.

And I've also been aware of the problems inherent in critique groups, many of which Dean touches on in that article. For instance, some of my critiquers I know who they are and their qualifications. But especially in one group, by and large, I have no idea of their real names. I don't know what they've published, if ever they have. I have no clue whether they really know what they are talking about or not. They are individuals hidden behind a screen name who may be able to sound like they know what they are talking about, but have never published a story in twenty years of trying for all I know. They may be Orsen Scott Card as well, trying to remain hidden to avoid being treated differently. The point is, I have no clue, and so I have no clue whether their advice will kill off my novel's unique voice, or resurrect it from the ashes of my own incompetence.

But aside from all that, if I'm to learn and grow as a writer, at some point that process becomes a hindrance more than a help. In the end, it's your novel. Once you've learned whatever there is to learn from someone, and that I do agree with Dean should be the goal of these groups, it no longer makes sense to spend half a year or more gathering input. If you're going to make money, you write it, edit it, have someone beta read it, edit it, and send it out. Then repeat the process.

The other reason is I'm starting an on-line writer's group. Strange, I know. It sort of took on a life of its own as NaNo ended and several of us who spent all month on-line together wanted to keep the group together and perhaps help each other to edit their novels now that we had a rough draft to work with. So I'm forced to revisit this topic so I will know how to approach it myself.

There appear to be two options if we go to critiquing each other's novels. One, what I've been doing which is to post a chapter every so often. Once a week or two chapters a week, get critiques, etc. Then edit again at the end of the process. Or two, to go through and edit it as quickly as I can, send the whole manuscript to a couple of beta readers I trust, do final edits when I get them back and then ship the manuscript off.

For those new to the editing process, the first makes more sense. One, it gives them bite-sized chunks they can deal with and digest. Two, it provides them a deadline of sorts which helps get them moving on their novel when otherwise it'd sit gathering dust, virtual or otherwise, tucked away in a folder somewhere. But for the more experienced writer who has a few stories and novels under their belt, the later may make more sense. It will speed up the process, and the crit group instead provides the beta readers instead of a chapter-by-chapter critiquing process.

The one area I'm not so sure I totally agree with Dean on is to only say good things about the other person's work. I know personally I want to know what is wrong with it. That said, I have discovered that what works in my novel is also very important to know, and so I agree with that. I've had to work at mentioning and stating that myself when I critique.

However, here's the gray area I'm dealing with. There are times when I, and I've seen others do this, tell a person what they find wrong about their novel or story. And what they've found wrong is naturally a personal opinion. It's usually something that the individual critiquing the story thought didn't sound right, wasn't natural, too trite, the character(s) wouldn't behave like that (one of my favorites!), and on and on. But what it really boils down to is a personal opinion on whether some facet of the story is believable. And whether something is believable all depends on the history and culture of the person reading it.

Which is why so many stories with giant plot holes make it into books, TV, and the movies. Some of them with plot holes big enough you could fly a 747 through them. And yet, despite all that, the public loves them! They buy them and they become best sellers, they spend tons of money to go watch the movie full of plot holes. How can this happen? Because there are people who care, and there are people who don't care about those things. Some people simply want to be entertained, no matter the implausibility of the story. The people who usually get their ire up about it are other writers. Especially one's trying to make it as a writer. Not always, but I bet the 80-20 rule holds here as well. 80% of the writers will be bothered by plot holes, uninspired or wooden dialog, while 20% of them aren't. Conversely, 80% of the general population couldn't care less about those things, they just want to see a great story, and 20% of the general population will complain about it. Guess which 80% is bigger and will get the aspiring writer more sales?

So, guess what? You have a great story, even with plot holes or mediocre writing/acting, it can still make lots of money and do well.

What? You think I'm saying if it sells well that's all that matters? No, not hardly. But if it sells well, that means one primary thing: your book is in the hands of thousands compared to hundreds. It means people think enough of your story to plunk down cash they've worked hard for because they know it is worth that money. Strangers you may never meet rave about your book with coworkers and friends. Sales is how the general public votes on whether they liked your book. It is the vote that matters more than any of the awards, because without that, it don't get shared much, it doesn't reach very many people with its story and/or message.

And before I hear someone say its all about marketing, that simply isn't true. No amount of marketing will make a book people don't like into a bestseller, and the only way a book really becomes a best seller is if people like the story and talk about it to their friends. Marketing only provides the push that gets the snowball rolling down the hill. But then its up to the snowball to gather more snow to become big. If it doesn't, it simply loses steam and comes to a halt less than a quarter of the way down the hill. You still have to have a story that people enjoy. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it has to be fun!

And Dean's point is a critique group won't help you make it anymore fun, engaging, or your unique voice than it is when you finish the last page of the rough draft. It may help close up some plot holes. It might tell you that the story isn't fun and engaging, and if the people have a clue about good story telling, they might even be able to point you in the right directions as to why.

So if I'm hearing Dean right, and I hope I am, the point of a good workshop is for writers to help each other learn to write better, learn new tricks by looking mostly at what each other have done right more so than what they've done wrong. But I still think we can learn from what we've done wrong. I think the point there is we be very careful about making changes on what people have thought we have done wrong unless we ourselves are in complete agreement. But to focus on what works, that should be the idea if we want to learn what works. Yes?

What's your experience with critique groups?

Review: League of Superheroesby Stephen L. Rice

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="161" caption="League of Superheroes"]League of Superheroes[/caption]

League of Superheroes

By Stephen L. Rice

ISBN: 193428405X

Radiation explains so many superhero powers, it's refreshing to see a more unique method of creating them. And to find a superhero book that classifies as science fiction instead of fantasy is even more rare. If that interest you, you're likely to find this book a refreshing read.

It is an origin story, no doubt. But Mr. Rice does a good job of keeping it interesting. A mysterious girl named Genie starts talking to Clarice in a chat room. She ends up bringing in her brother Allan and his friends into the discussion. Next thing you know, this mysterious girl is shipping them suits that enable them to do as much and more than what their favorite comic book superheroes can do.

But the real questions are who is she, how can she do this, and why is she doing it? The answer to those questions leads them to discover whether being a superhero involves more than super powers.

This book is a fun read for people of all ages even though it is directed toward young adults. It is well written, and the characters are fun. The plot keeps you wondering what will happen next. On the book as a whole, I'd have to say I enjoyed it and would recommend it hardily to anyone seeking a book to give to a child, teen, or even an older "child" who enjoys superhero stories.

If I were to fault the book for anything, it would be sometimes the story gets too bogged down in the technical details of how everything works. For the geek, this is interesting. And I don't mind some of that myself, but I found at certain points wishing we could skip the explanations and get on with the story. And to that end, it seemed the distribution of the suits dribbled out. In some ways, that would be truer to life, yes. But it slowed the story down. Despite that, Mr. Rice kept the pace overall on a good foot. So while I had those problems, it didn't mar the story significantly.

It should also be mentioned that this book has Christian characters written by a Christian. Mr. Rice does a good job of not doing a lot of preaching through this story, though you will find some messages coming through here and there. However, those are natural to the characters and the story. Most people whether religious or not, will enjoy it for what it is: teens from various backgrounds dealing with the moral dilemmas of gaining such powers and how to use them.

I enjoyed reading this story. It makes a great stocking stuffer for the reader in your family. And who knows, you might find yourself picking it up and getting sucked into it. I look forward to more stories about these kids in the future from this author.

Buy League of Superheroes at:, Barnes and Noble, Writer's Cafe Press (publisher), and other online and bookstore outlets.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just Do It!

Of late, I've been following Dean Wesley Smith's blog. He is a writer who's published over 90 novels. A prolific writer who's doing exactly what I want to do as well, make a living at writing great fiction. In a recent post, he wrote:
The truth: Writing a story is fun. And those of us lucky enough to do it for a living have the best job in the world, period. I sit alone in a room and make stuff up and people pay me large sums of money to do that. What is so hard about that?

I feel the same way, and is why I wanted to focus, not only for any readers of this blog, but also for myself, on a spin-off thought from his most recent blog post, Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Book as Event. He certainly challenges the common assumptions people make about writing novels and getting them published, and I've learned a lot following his blog and his "Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing" thread. Worth your time to read if you're an aspiring novelist.

But this one is his big sacred cow to kill, and I can see why. So allow me to take some time from my National Novel Writing Month word piling to put my own thoughts down that his post inspired.

Most people assume that to write a best selling, or even good selling book, it has to be an amazing story, a heart-pounding read, flawless word usage, or as Dean Wesley Smith puts it, "art." And one might be led to believe that, if the facts corresponded with said theory. Just a look at recent best-sellers in the publishing world would draw the conclusion that there is not a one-to-one correlation.

Take Eragon by Christopher Paolini. Written by a teen, this book becomes a best-seller despite the fact it is criticized for the writing being wooden and full of trite plots and characters. But the end result? It worked for a lot of people.

And then there is The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Violating numerous writing rules for good stories, and roundly criticized among fellow writers, it topped the best-sellers list. Do any of my crit partners wish to say he could do that because he knew what he was doing? Ah, I thought not. Yet, apparently he did.

And we could no doubt go down the list and find others that if one were to listen to fellow writers and critics, should have never seen the light of day, much less made the best-sellers list. But what does this show us?

One, that a book doesn't have to be perfect to make it. It's one of the points Dean makes in his recent blog entry linked above. Browse your library fiction shelves sometime. You'll find great books, but you'll also find books that will make you say, "How on earth did this ever get published?" Or, "What was the editor drinking when he decided to send out this contract?" A lot of bad writing and poor-excuse-for-stories get put into print by major publishing houses all the time. And some of those stories actually make them money. People will really plunk down good money, read the book, and enjoy it!

Two, I hear far too many of my writer friends and fellow National Novel Writing Month buddies lament that their stories are not that good. And maybe some of them aren't. It may be that they are just tossing in words, detailing everyday, boring events in the lives of their characters with no real story, plot, or even character development/interaction that is not worth anyone ever sloshing through. They only care about getting a word count. End of story.

Great, more power to you. But I suspect there are also a great number who try to get something down on paper that works. They know it won't be perfect, but they hope it will be something they can edit into shape, maybe become the seed for other stories, novels, or a future rewrite. But as Dean says, most of those stories end up getting thrown into drawers, rarely to see the light of day again, much less an editor's desk.

I can relate to Dean's writing style, to write quickly. Every novel I've written I did within a month's time. At the end of this NaNoWriMo, I will have six novels done. How many have been published? One. It was, just like Dean, my third novel I'd ever written, Transforming Realities. Before that was my first published book, a novella, Infinite Realities, but I don't count that as one of my novels.

My 2006 NaNoWriMo novel is fairly polished. I thought I'd do a little tweaking, but it is nearly ready to go. The rest are either rough drafts or in the middle of edits. And my edit process has been long and drawn out. I write in a month, but take a year or more to edit and get it ready. So each NaNo I add to the novel count waiting to go out.

Now, it isn't that I don't think these stories aren't good enough. As a matter of fact, I'm sure they are all good enough to be published. I have no doubt. But I will admit that I've fallen into the idea that I needed to get my book, if not perfect, near perfect before I send it to the big editor or agent who will be reading the first lines, and stuffing it back in the envelope with a rejection slip before he/she gets to the end of the first page.

My goal to this point for the next year was to get the third and final book in the Reality series published, The Reality. I also wanted to finally get Mind Game, that near-ready novel, out to someone, start shopping it. But that was about it.

Now Dean has inspired me to pull the stops out. Don't worry about getting it perfect. These are good stories, and need to get into the hands of editors so people can read them. And who knows, one of them might sell well. One of them might become a best seller. I might actually end up, to the protesting of my bosses, be able to quit my job and make a living at this writing gig I enjoy. I might be able to get paid well for making up stories. But I'll never know if I allow myself to think my story has to be just right to make it.

What really needs to happen is it needs to be a good story. People vote with their money, and that is, in the end, the vote that counts if one's goal is to write so people enjoy what you write. The lack of sales doesn't necessarily mean its a bad story, mind you. There are several factors that come together, but great sales does validate one fact: people enjoyed the story. If they didn't, no amount of marketing would get people to buy it in sufficient quantities.

And that's what stories like Eragon and The Da Vinci Code were. Good stories despite their imperfections, and people voted with their wallets. My stories are just as good, maybe even better. And I need to release them to see if they fly or not. If I keep them in the nest, we'll never know.

And so I'm making a new year's vow, pledge, whatever you call it, a little early this year. I'm going to get out to editors as many of these books sitting on my hard drive as possible during the following year. I'm still going to do NaNoWriMo. I've too many stories needing to get out to stop writing, and I may write in between! But my focus will be to get these stories out into hands, first the editor's, then the public's.

And how about you? If you have a story sitting on a hard drive, don't tweak it to death. Do the edits, then send it out. Then start on the next one. Dean's inspired me, and I hope he's inspired others to do the same.

Enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Flash Fiction Published!

My flash fiction titled Life Intruders has been published by the on-line science fiction and fantasy magazine, Resident Aliens!

This is a space opera story involving the crew of the Neptune 2, a ship I created as a teenager in a comic strip. This time frame actually takes place in the world I created with the novel I first wrote (not yet published) titled World's Apart, but several hundred years after the events in that series (I have two more books planned for that series, but haven't started writing them yet).

I'm hoping to create a series of these stories, so this is only the first to come of what I hope will be many more. If I'll just get busy and write them!

Thanks to Lynn for publishing this first entry. And enjoy the story. Be sure to check out other stories in the magazine, it is a good one to read.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Muse: A Fun Read

The Muse, by Fred Warren, takes the reader into the world of muses, thus the title. Stan is a writer who's having trouble figuring out where to go with his story. His writer's group, consisting of Davos and Jilly, are also struggling. Then along comes Leila, and suddenly they're able to not only get their stories back on track, but find buyers and break into the big time. But how? And more importantly, why?

That's the engine for this story as the seemingly innocent events grow to dangerous proportions. Our trio, along with Stan's wife, Charity, and his daughter, Hannah, are thrown into the world of a Muse intent on destroying them along with many others.

There is a Christian element to the story, but that is due to the characters being Christian, not an attempt to preach. Most anyone would be comfortable reading this, no matter what religion or non-religion they are. But you'll not find an attempt to deliver an overt message or belittle anyone else in these pages.

The strength of the story lies in Mr. Warren's well developed characters. He has a great cast, and they are well written. Their interaction provides much of the story's spark. The only character I felt who could have used more nuance was the antagonist. She starts out interesting enough, but by the end, she evolves into the typical, arrogant villain. But the rest of the cast had depth and interesting interaction, and was what kept the story vibrant.

I read this rather quickly. On my limited schedule, reading a book takes a month or more, but I found myself sitting in the chair, late into the night, with a cup of tea or coffee, reading yet another chapter. I finished it within four days of starting. Would I call it a page turner? Plot wise, not really, but the writing and characters were so well done, I had to find out what would happen to them, and that kept me reading.

Which is good, because for me, it was a slow burn on discovering that there was a danger to confront. Mr. Warren takes his time building to the point where we fully realize the danger Stan and his friends are in. I found myself wanting to "get there" much sooner than we actually did. That coming from a guy who likes fast-paced narrative. Your mileage may vary.

Related to that, I had watched the book's trailer. I knew at some point, our heroes would end up trapped in an alternate reality and have to fight their way out. If I hadn't been looking for it, I may not have felt this way, but the entry into this alternate reality doesn't happen until the last third of the book. I not only grew impatient waiting for them to get there, but wasn't ready to leave when they did. Mr. Warren introduces several characters once in the new world who I would have loved to learn more about. If I had my say, I would have preferred more time in the alternate world and less in the real.

The plot is a mixture of both original concepts and predictable moments. It isn't complicated, and I did feel more could have been done with it. Yet, the world of the Muse held interest, and I can tell Mr. Warren had invested the time in their back story. While the plot had a couple of holes, I had fun reading it. He paints the world, both real and alternate, so you feel you're there. The plot adequately displays his strength: the characters. If you don't need cliff-hanger action on every page, and prefer characters who you find interesting, my bet is you'll enjoy this novel as well as I did.

Can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or other bookstores.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Trite Is As Trite Does

One of the pitfalls writers attempt to avoid is being trite. Being trite, first on the writing level itself, and then being trite in a story plot.

There are, however, some forces that work against that.

First, we should probably define trite. In reality, people tend to think of the term too rigidly. They say if it's been done before, then it's trite. But there is another golden rule contradicting that: there is nothing new under the sun. No matter the phrasing, the story line, etc., most likely you can find someone who has said it or written that story before.

Okay, so some might narrow that down a bit to say, "if it's been done frequently before." That hits closer to home. But still is too formulaic. Here's why I say that.

What is trite is more subjective. What is trite to one person isn't to another. Depends on what they've read and how many times they've read it. So my definition of trite is any writing or plot that makes you say, "Oh, this has been done to death," or "I've seen this a million times."

I ran across that the other night. On the TV was a movie about a ragtag soccer team from  a hick town that was formed by a teacher at the school. Of course the kids know nothing about soccer, and the first thing they do is go play against a championship team and get slaughtered. Right then I told my son, "Here's how the rest of this movie is going down. They will practice and get better, and at the end of the movie they will go to the championship game and barely defeat the team that's won it for the past several years.

Predictably, that's how it went. But it gets better. They predictably tie the game at the end, and each team gets five tries to get a ball into the goal, and whoever gets the most in wins as a tie breaker. The last of the five they chose for their team was the runt and least likely to pull it off of the team. So I told my son, which players would miss, and that it would come down to the scrawny runt winning the game. Sure enough, it happened just that way, even those missing the goal that I predicted would miss it.

But despite that and some unbelievable moments both in action and plot, it wasn't all that bad. I watched the whole thing. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either. It had its moments. But it had all the predictable elements of the ragtag sports team type story.

Now, if someone had never read or seen one of these type stories, they wouldn't consider it trite. I would. And there have been things I've written that I didn't think were done all that much, that I later found out was.

One such story was my flash fiction The Wheel of Curses which Everyday Fiction accepted and published back in 2008. It is a story of Josh, a young wizard in training, who gets turned into a fly and for a while it is written from the fly's perspective. While they accepted it, they did mention in the comments that "although we get many of these fly perspective stories..." I thought, "What? They get a lot of these? I'd never guessed." But they liked my take on it enough that they accepted mine.

And that is a good segue into the next point. Even if you have a trite story line, if you still can write a good story that captures people's imaginations, it won't matter that the plot line is tired and worn out. A good writer can take a tired and worn out plot line and give it life.

There are two ways to do this. One, is to have some unexpected elements in the plot line itself. This lends itself to trite plot lines because then everyone thinks they know how its going to go down, and when it doesn't go where they expect it to, then suddenly it's not trite any longer.

The other way is to make the characters and their exchanges interesting. Mainstream stories rely upon this, because in mainstream it is much harder to find an original plot line. Practically everything has been done before. Speculative fiction gives you a little more freedom to create original plots, whereas mainstream is more limited to this life in that regard.

The way that most mainstream stories keep from reading trite is the unique and interesting characters they infuse into the story. So say you take the story of the divorced man raising a kid or kids. Predictably the plot centers around one or all of the kids feeling like dad doesn't pay them enough attention. That same plot line appears frequently in marriage situations as well. "The Santa Clause" movie is a good example among many with such a plot line in it. But if you can write good dialog, provide deep characters that the reader can care about, even if they know the dad or mother will come to their senses at the end and become the best dad in the world, it can still be interesting and not so trite if the characters are compelling.

Then there is the final point: sometimes trite sells. When Anne's "Dragon Riders of Pern" came out, it was fairly fresh. It became very popular. So what do publishers do? They want to ride that wave, and so acceptances of dragon rider stories grew. Everyone wanted to write a dragon rider story. So, after a while, the plot became a little trite.

Then along comes Eragon, about a boy who finds a dragon's egg and ends up becoming a dragon rider. The book in literary circles was denounced as too trite and predictable. It had all the cliche elements of such a story in it. But yet, it became a best seller, people loved it. Why? Because it had a good story and interesting characters...even if the writing was a bit "wooden" as I recall on reviewer putting it.

Trite goes in cycles. For instance, it's not like no one had written about wizards and such, but when Harry Potter came on the screen, it was fresh. Likewise, I don't know how many times I've seen sites say they don't want anymore vampire stories. They get too many of them that are apparently pretty bad. Yet, Twilight hits the shelves and sells well. As a matter of fact, I can predict at some point we'll see another story like Lord of the Rings sell well sometime into the future.

In the end, it's much like what the judges often say on American Idol and the like: you've got to put your own stamp on it. That's what really makes it unique, even if the subject matter has been dealt with a thousand times before. If I were to write the Star Wars book, it wouldn't have the same feel as someone else might do it. If Tom Hanks had directed the first Star Wars movie, it wouldn't be the same as what we have now. In the end, if your story sounds like every other story out there, doesn't have your unique voice in it, then it will tend to sound trite.

So, keep writing, keep developing that voice, and eventually you can write the next "we need to destroy the evil object before it falls into the wrong hands so we can save the world" type story, and actually have it sell well.

Novel Preperation Presentation

That's right. Yours truly will be doing a 30 minute presentation for the Austin region National Novel Writing Month group about how to plan to write a novel. Following that I'll be moderating a panel for another hour.

It is open for anyone to attend, you don't have to participate in the National Novel Writing Month to come. Shoot, you don't even have to be a writer. If you're interested and are in the Austin, TX area, plan on being there!

Here's the info from the Austin region's NaNo calendar:

Novel Planning Presentation
When: Wed, October 21, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Where: Pflugerville Community Library, 102 S. 10th St., Pflugerville
What: Are you a planner or a seat-of-the-pantser? Wrimo RLCopple will present a useful planning technique, and then our panel will discuss the merits of different planning - and not-planning strategies. Panelists are: ballyhoot, NicoleMD, DaShlom, and Lady Eshen.
Who: Suitable for all ages; everyone is invited!

Come if you can. Pray if you can't! Thanks.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New story accepted!

I wrote a flash fiction back in 2006 called Life Invaders. After a few attempts, it has finally found a home at Residential Aliens Magazine. Look here for the announcement of when it comes out in the next two to three months. And visit the magazine; they have enjoyable genre fiction.

Sunday, August 9, 2009 Review of TR

Residential Aliens magazine editor, Lyn Perry, has turned in a review of Transforming Realities to It isn't a five-star review, but it is balanced and honest.

On the one issue he has with the book, I expected some wouldn't care for it. So I'm not surprised I've run across someone who doesn't. It's one of those things you either enjoy or don't. Depends on what type of book you like to read. And interestingly, this is the only novel out of the five I've written that has this specific quality. But in writing it, it fit the plot.

He missed some info I would have liked to get his input on, namely character development--a major part of any story. I can only assume they weren't "cardboard" characters for him, or he would have mentioned it.

That said, the review is fairly positive aside from his one main complaint. I appreciate his view and hope it helps readers to decide if they'd like to read the book or not. If you want to find out what Lyn Perry thought of the book, read it on

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Storefront Fixed

I discovered that my author's storefront,, had experienced some problems from people who tried to order on it or obtain the free ebook. During login as well as some functions of checking out, a blank page would appear, making it difficult to buy anything.

That has now been fixed, site updated, and my test show it operating as one would expect. I apologize for the difficulties in processing orders. You are now free to move about the storefront!

Thank you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Karina Fabian Interviews Me

Author Karina Fabian is promoting Transforming Realities this week on her blog, and has a good interview with me posted. Please visit her blog and leave a comment. And while there, consider picking up one of her books. Her latest will have you laughing.

Thanks, Karina, for doing this!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Deuces Wild: Beginners' Luck" Review

On the surface, Deuces Wild: Beginners' Luck by L. S. King is a good, old-fashion, space opera story full of adventure with a touch of humor that most, if not all, will enjoy. Are there are explosions? Yes! Battles? A plenty! Spacey technology? Yep, but the story doesn't get bogged down in it. Aliens? You bettcha, including their cultures and a believable world.

But there are two other details needed to make a book of any kind interesting: plot and characters.

On the plot front, the story consist of the two main characters, Slap and Tristan, who confront the Mordas, a Mafia-like group controlling Slap's planet. The Mordas attempt to steal the settlers' land, even if it means killing. Slap's loss of his wife and children at their hands leads to meeting Tristan at the beginning of the story. Their two fates become intertwined with interesting results as they attempt to avoid capture, or are busy rescuing one another from capture. Along the way, they meet a respectable cast of secondary characters and adventures that adds spice to the tale and moves the story forward. In the end, they return for a final confrontation with the self-appointed organization controlling Slap's planet in a satisfying battle.

The plot is standard fare, but L. S. King puts enough of her own spin on it to keep it interesting. However, if this was the extent of the book, it wouldn't be enough to make it stand out. What really causes this to rise above your average space opera tale are the two characters. King has taken pains to paint two very three-dimensional characters who you'd never expect to become friends. They don't even expect themselves to become friends. But by the end of the book, they know it and the reader knows it. But what does a mercenary with a hidden past and agenda, and a moral cowboy-like family man have in common? On the surface, not much, but the fun is in watching them find out that real friendship has roots that dig under the surface of differences and bind them to one another. Then when events force them to make a decision, they discover their bond brings them to one another's aid—because they care.

The real joy of this book is in watching that friendship unfold and tested between these two endearing characters. For me, it is what makes this book worth reading. The interesting plot, the space and planetary backdrop and cultures, the adventure and explosions, are all icing on the cake, making this book one well-rounded story that few would regret plunking down the money to read.

There are some minor drawbacks to note. For me, it took a while to get into the story with the switching between the two main characters frequently. One character per chapter would have made it easier. That said, the confusion was temporary. Once I read further in and the two story lines became more solidified in my head, I had no problem. Most of the time the switches were done well, but I think it was the frequency of them that made getting a handle on the story more difficult, at first.

There were also spots where it was too easy to lose who was talking, but that didn't happen frequently. And a minor info-hiding toward the end of the story. It could be justified and was minor enough it didn't distract from the story, but it was info hiding.

Positives aside from what I've mentioned above is solid writing—it never distracted me from the story but pulled me into it. The printing is of good quality, and a snappy cover that while giving a picture of the two characters and is a cool graphic, doesn't accomplish much more, but fun to look at.

I recommend this as a good read for most anyone. While set in a science fiction world, the story itself is one anyone can identify with. For space opera lovers, this is a must read—a prime example of an exciting but well-rounded adventure. I fully enjoyed it, and I bet you'll not regret picking this one up.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Breaking the Rules

I've read some perspectives on points of view recently, primarily first person, that I find myself disagreeing with.

Nancy Kress in her book, "Characters, Emotions, and Points of View" writes that in first person, it is like you're in their head all the time, so you can't do multiple points of view (though she suggest there are novels that do that successfully). And in first person, the point of view is artificial compared to others, in that people don't go through life giving a word-for-word accounting of what they were thinking or a dialog that took place.

I understand where she was coming from, and who am I, a newbie published author, telling Nancy Kress she's wrong? But I don't feel that first person is any more artificial than third person. In each case, what you have is someone telling a story. In third person, it is someone telling a story about someone else. In first, someone is telling their own story. In either case, it would be artificial for them to recall word-for-word dialog and details. On that point, third person is just as artificial. That's what it all boils down to. People realize that fact and generally accept it in trade for having the feeling of "being there" with the character and sinking into the story. No narrator is going to have that much detail at their fingertips. As a matter of fact, one would expect a first person narrator to know more of the details than a third person narrator.

I've also heard it said that scene breaks are not proper for a first person point of view. In a stream-of-consciousness story, I would suggest that would be true. That is the only type of story where you are in someone's head without break. But if you can have scene breaks in third, you can in first as well. After all, if someone is telling us a story, no matter who it is about, and they want to skip over the parts that don't really move the story along, why would you include that?

To put it another way, if I'm telling my son about something that happened to me and I wanted to dramatize it, it would be natural for me to skip over the parts that weren't relevant to the story. Same as third person. Scene breaks in first person are quite natural, in fact and don't violate the point of view.

I think what confuses people is that first person is automatically associated with a close first person. For by default, that is what most first person is. It is one of the advantages of first person, down to being able to see things the way the character sees them, even if it is wrong and not the truth. Out of all the points of view, you can get the closest to a character in it. So when it is used, it tends to be used with that goal in mind.

But, you can have a more distant first person. This is a case where the narrator "I" becomes more overt, just like in distant third or even omniscient. Yes, there is an omniscient first. But it is not the same as omniscient third. In first, you don't jump from head to head at will. However, it is the blatantly overt narrator who already knows how the story will play out, and may make comments like, "If I'd known then what I know now, I wouldn't have entered that building." They're omniscient in the sense they will look over the whole story as it is being told, knowing how it all fits together, who will do what, and how it all will end. It is more like sitting by a fire while your uncle tells you a story from when he was in the war.

So first person can have distance like third can, or be close where the narrator, though there, is invisible and you're reading it "as it happened." But the past tense still says, "this happened in the past so someone is telling you this after the fact." It is still narrated and so can take all the same rules that a third person narration would take. What changes that is whether either is close or more distant.

Another assumed rule about first person is that you cannot write a first person story where the point of view character dies. The idea is, who is telling you the story? If it is past tense, which most first person is, then that assumes you have a dead narrator telling you the story. How can that be? Third person avoids that because it is someone else who is narrating.

But I'm not that hung up on that issue. Here's why. The above only holds true if you're of the belief that once you die, that's the end of things. You pass away into oblivion and exist no more. But there are plenty of beliefs out there which would say otherwise--that say you do continue to live on in another state. And in many of these beliefs, there are stories of people who have come back to help others or talk to them. Christianity, for example, has plenty of stories of saints returning to guide someone in need. It would not be hard to imagine that such a person has returned in spirit form to tell his or her story. This explanation even works for mainstream, but certainly for fantasy and non-hard science fiction.

So, whether such a "framing story" is explicitly stated or not, I find it probably that you could have a narrator telling us his or her story who no longer is bound by this life. But on this issue, the practical reality is that there are a lot of editors out there who see it differently. So violate at your own risk. I've had stories rejected because my first person point of view character died.

If you find yourself in such a situation, there are three things you can do. One is to create that framing story explicitly. Have the ghost return to tell someone his story. Maybe he can't be released from this world until he gets it off his chest. We've seen such stories, so making it into a framing story would help make sense of the first person character dying in the end.

Two, convert your story to third person. You can keep it in a close third and not lose much. But if your plot depends on the reader seeing an untruth as true through the first person point of view, you could consider the third option, as unlikely as you are to use it.

Three, you could convert your story to a first person, presence tense. Being in presence tense, your story ends when the character dies...because he's the narrator. But since it is present tense, you can take the narration right up to when he or she dies. But, you'll have to balance what you gain from that with what you lose, which is difficulty in the reader adjusting to a hard-to-swallow point of view. Few like present tense for a story. I've read one, and it did take about three to five chapters before I wasn't thinking about the oddness of it. It takes some skill to write one that people will accept.

A possible fourth option, though it may not fly with an editor, is to explain in your cover letter why you're using first person past point of view even though your character dies in the end. Acknowledging that you're aware of this fact, and you are doing it on purpose for a specific reason may be enough for the editor to give it a chance.

In my Reality series, I use first person point of view in a semi-unique way. The basic rule is that the first person point of view follows the ring. You get a hint of that in the recently released book, "Transforming Realities," but it comes out even stronger in the last book, yet to be published, "The Reality." Because of that, I've done a couple of unconventional things. But as you can tell by this post, I'm not opposed to breaking the "rules" when I have a reason to do so. And I disagree with some of the rules given to begin with, radical that I am.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New Covey Cover Awards

My book, Transforming Realities, is in the running for the New Covey Cover Awards. E. J. Mickels did a great job on the cover and I think it stands a good chance of winning. But to do that, enough people have to vote on it. The voting is already in progress, and ends on June 30, 2009. So I would appreciate all who like this cover to go and express your opinion by voting for it.

It is number 14 in the list. Be sure to click the right one!






Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Nature of Hell

Hell is not a place apart from God.

I know that may not be what many have been taught. Some may consider it a new concept that doesn't match the Bible's teachings. But if you'll bear with me for a few paragraphs, I'll show you how this ancient theological concept actually has abundant Biblical support.

But why am I throwing this out now? Quite simply, my Reality series has as its underlying theological foundation this fact. It is in fact God's glory, His unfiltered, unhidden face-to-face contact that either puts one into a state of heaven or hell based upon the person's relationship with Jesus Christ--their union with Him--so that His healing life can attune us to God's glory and enable us to live in it.

First, we must state the nature of God to understand the rest. Hebrews 12:29 says it most directly: "...for our God is a consuming fire."

We see evidence of that through the Bible. Deuteronomy 5:24-26:
and ye said, Behold, Jehovah our God hath showed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth speak with man, and he liveth. Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of Jehovah our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?

The same sentiment is listed in other passages like Deuteronomy 4:33, 18:6, and Psalms 50:3. The Old Testament also backs up what we find in Hebrews: Deuteronomy 4:24, "For Jehovah thy God is a devouring fire, a jealous God." Moses experiences God as a fire around a bush that doesn't consume it (Exodus 3:2). Fire is used to devour the sacrifices, the most dramatic example being Elijah's duel with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:25).

In the New Testament, not only does Hebrews state this directly, Paul speaks of it when he talks about those who enter the next life in less than perfect shape:
(1 Corinthians 3:11-15) For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if any man buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; each man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire.

There are some key concepts in this passage. One, this fire is where the saved will be. This is God's nature as an "all consuming fire." It is coming into His presence which results in the dross of our lives being burned away. This is also stated in the Old Testament:
(Zechariah 13:9) And I will bring the third part into the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, Jehovah is my God.

Two, it is taken as a given that those who don't have Jesus Christ as their foundation will experience this fire, but it will not be unto salvation or refining, rather it will be the second death, Hell itself. To be saved from this devouring fire, the minimum requirement listed is to have Christ as the foundation of our life. Those who are saved are enabled to live in the fire by Christ.

The premier example of that is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in Daniel 3. They refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's idol, and as a result the king had the fire heated seven times hotter than usual and tossed the threesome into it as a punishment. What did the king see? He saw the three dancing in the fire, unharmed, and a fourth with them like the Son of Man. Theologians generally say this fourth is Jesus Christ with them. I have a scene similar to this in Transforming Realities. Indeed in each of the books of the Reality Series, you will find a place where the one wearing the ring goes through some type of fire and lives. This is a type of being able to live in the "all consuming fire" of God's presence.

But those who are not ready for it by the union with Jesus Christ will experience a different reality. Psalms 68:2 says, "As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: As wax melteth before the fire, So let the wicked perish at the presence of God." Again, we see that Hell becomes a reality not away from God's presence, but by being fully exposed to it.

This is why in Revelation 6:15-16 it says, "And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and the chief captains, and the rich, and the strong, and every bondman and freeman, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains; and they say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." They fear His presence even as Adam and Eve did the day they sinned, for they lost the clothing of God's glory about them and could no longer bear God's presence due to their nakedness. It is for this reason that no man can see the face of God and live, as God told Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 33:20).

But on the last day, the Day of Judgment, that will change. Then His glory will be fully revealed and it will result in dividing the sheep from the goats, that is, those who have Christ as their foundation (Matthew 25:31-32). The result of that event is those who have not been healed by union with Christ will be forced to see God face-to-face in all His glory, and it will result in their second death.

"Wait! Hold on," I hear you saying. "Doesn't it say in that parable that Christ tells the wicked to depart from him into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels?" Yes it does, Matthew 25:41. Keep in mind two things here. This is Christ talking to them, so he does have a resurrected bodily presence. So there is a sense in which they will depart from Him. However, that doesn't mean they can depart from his fiery presence, for it is no longer hidden as it is now and fills creation. You see, when Adam and Eve fell, God allowed creation to fall with them so that they would not be immediately destroyed. Fallen creation acted as a buffer hiding the full presence of God from them. This is what it means that they were cast out of Paradise. But at the last day, creation will be redeemed and there will no longer be this life to hide from God presence. There will be no where for those without Christ to hide from His glory. Remember? There is no sun there because Christ's glory will be so bright there is no need for one. They will depart from his bodily presence, but not from his "all consuming fire."

In Revelation we see elements of this as well. John in describing what he saw around the throne says in Revelation 15:2, "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and them that come off victorious from the beast, and from his image, and from the number of his name, standing by the sea of glass, having harps of God." This is known as the "river of fire" proceeding from the throne of God. This is representative of the fire that divides the sheep from the goats, refining and sending the former into heaven and the later into Hell.

But someone may still say, "But what about Lazarus and the Rich Man story Jesus told? It made it sound like the rich man was in a separate place apart from Lazarus and Abraham." And in this instance, yes they were in separate places. There's obviously a gulf separating them, but apparently of a different nature than distance since they could still talk with each other and the rich man seemed to think it would be possible for Lazarus to bring him some water.

However, the rich man is not in Hell as in the eternal lake of fire we've been talking about. Yes, some translations like the KJV use the word "hell" to say where he is, but the Greek word used here (per Strongs) is,
hades, hah'-dace

Properly unseen, that is, “Hades” or the place (state) of departed souls: - grave, hell.

When the Scriptures mean the literal lake of fire and not Hades, it uses the word,
geenna, gheh'-en-nah

valley of (the son of) Hinnom; gehenna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment: - hell.

This is why you will find some translations that use "hell" in relation to where the rich man is, but also Hades for that is the literal rendering of the word used, not the lake of fire. And there is a sense that the saved, like Lazarus, go to Paradise to await the final Day of Judgment, while Hades is the holding place of those who face death. That Hades and Hell are two separate realities is clear from Revelation 20:14, "And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire." Hades itself is destroyed by Hell. In the Reality Series, especially the last book, this reality plays a key part in what happens.

But it is because some reading that book where this division is made more clearer, they will have questions about both Hades and Hell not being the same thing, and what Hell really is, that I wanted to post this now. When people have those questions, they will have this reference to the theological reality being presented in the books. I pray this adequately clarifies and helps explain some of what happens in all the books, and how it plays into the final ending of the series and the ring's journey.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Interview floating in Shark Infested Waters

For those who missed the interview Taylor Kent did with me Thursday night, here's your chance to listen to it! Not live, but as a podcast. It is currently up at the Shark Infested Waters site. Check it out when you  get a chance.

I want to take this opportunity to say that I had a fun time with Taylor. Thank you Taylor for interviewing me and for the enthusiastic endorsement of Transforming Realities--he gave it "5 out of 5 shark bites" (which means its great!) and said that he felt it was the Pilgrim's Progress for a new generation.  I couldn't ask for a better review!

Be sure to check out Taylor's other shows and drop by for a live interview some time. They are always entertaining.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Live Interview!

That's right! Live, as in, listen to me babble in real time. Call and ask me inane questions, and probably receive inane answers as well!

When?  -- Thursday, 5/28/09, at 8:30pm Central Standard Time.

Where? -- at Shark Infested Waters

Listen in, and/or call in. We'll be talking specifically about my new novel, Transforming Realties. It would be cool to chat with folk about that or whatever else you'd like to ask me. See you then!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Star Trek Movie Review

I've not done a lot of movie reviews, so take this for what it's worth. But being a long time Star Trek fan, though not in as deep as some others, it brought some thoughts to my mind as I watched it tonight and thought about it afterwards. So, here it goes without revealing any major plot spoilers.

First, I'll say for sheer fun, the movie delivers on several levels. My wife is not a big action movie fan, and the wrong kind of tension can make her not like a movie. For instance, she hated the Mr. Bean Movie because of the tension of what he would destroy next. She's not into "gross" stuff, like the one instance where the bug is dropped into a Star Fleet officer to get info out of him, pointing back to the "Wrath of Khan" movie opening. But despite that one scene she didn't care for, her rating of this movie is "excellent."  Anyone who isn't a big Star Trek fan will enjoy this movie. It has the story, the character interaction, and even some genuinely funny moments without being stupid (well, okay, maybe one was a little on the stupid side, but it was played so well you really didn't notice).

But what about ST fans? That was the biggest issue for fans of the old series. There are so many pot holes this movie could have fallen into taking on iconic figures like Kirk, Spock, and Bones. Could these actors really pull off making you believe they were these characters?

I'll have to say a resounding yes. The main characters, while not dead duplicates of the originals, one really could believe they were the younger versions of the original cast. They even studied it appears, because you saw many characteristic traits of the original actors that really sold the suspension of disbelief. Even something as simple as the way Kirk leans over shouted, "Captain Kirk" at me. Not all was the same, for sure. And if there was one aspect that bothered me at all, it was Zachary Quinto's Spock. He did a wonderful job of bringing the young Spock to life. But, and this isn't a big thing, but it did hit me, the way his mouth is shaped makes it appear he's about to break out into a smile at any moment. Just the slight upturned corners of his mouth, even in dead serious moments, that worked against him and deviated from the Spock character.

Luckily, his acting sold me despite that one issue. And I could probably point out a few other things, but overall they did an excellent job taking traits from the original cast and integrating them into these characters in such a way that you felt they really were younger versions of the originals, without simply copying them, and be able to generate that chemistry the original had. To me, that was probably the most difficult aspect of this movie they had to sell and do well if it was to get it right. And my score on them getting that right is 9 out of 10. Thank goodness.

The other aspect for Star Trek fans is simply whether it "fits" into the spirit of the original series and with what has gone before. They are able to do a prequel without doing a prequel. And without revealing too much spoiler, I'll just say they've set this up where the future for more such movies or even another TV series with this crew won't conflict with the older series.

But, keeping the spirit is still important even if you find a way to give yourself more plot freedom. One of my fears is that this would be another modern retooling of the Star Trek world into something more darker, dreerer, and depressing. While the trend nowdays appears to be for the gritter, darker, almost soap opera style shows, those don't fit the Star Trek universe. Yes, you have an evil villian, the prospects look bleak, and Kirk manages to nearly escape death...even as a kid, several times. Yet, running through that is Kirk's "never give up" attitude, his refusal to avoid a no-win situation even in the face of certain defeat. And somehow, he does come out on top. Who'da thunk it?

They succeed at creating the feel of the original series even while modernizing the movie experience itself. Even the humor fits to keep the movie from getting too heavy. You get a sense of the energy and unexpectedness of Kirk especially as you did in the original series. Maybe even more so. Simply put, it felt like the spark of the original series was there, it felt like a swashbuckling adventure. They get a 10 out of 10 on that score. Thank goodness.

One other aspect they have managed to maintain from not only the original series, but the francise as a whole, and that is plot holes. I do have to say, in some aspects, they make a more realistic film. Like, how a ship would go into warp from an objective observer is more realistic than how it is done in STNG. Space noises not being heard, for the most part, is another. But there were questions in my mind on some points (none of this gives away anything critical).

For instance, this drill the enemy uses to drill to the planet's core...dangled from the ship in space? One, why would they want to dangle it down like that, just shoot it from the ship. Then your critical drilling platform isn't exposed to anyone with a handy ray gun or armed ship.

And then, why didn't Star Fleet send up ships to just shoot thing thing out of the sky, as exposed as it was? That would have been a simpler solution.

And then there is the black hole thing. Getting caught in one, and the stress of running the engines against the gravitational pull of one causes cracks to form in the ceiling, and explosion strong enough to break them from its pull causes nar a dent! Hum.

And why is Star Fleet so blind to the obvious? If ejecting the ship's core can create such a huge explosion, why don't they equip their photon torpedoes with those things instead? One direct hit would destroy the Borg and this enemy to. Boom! Game over. Yet in my memory, they've never decided to equip their weapons with warp-core explosives. Hum.

So, yes, it keeps the spirit of the series! And in a good way. What you have is fun for Trek fans and non-Trek fans alike. Strangely enough, this is like your daddy's Star Trek, and yet, it's so much more as well. For what it's worth, it's a must see movie for not only space opera fans, but anyone who likes engaging characters, a keep-you-on-your-toes plot, and great special effects. The new Star Trek movie delivers.