Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Raven: Bird of Death or Messenger of Life?

My newest article was just published by TRC magazine. In "The Raven: Bird of Death or Messenger of Life?" I compare how the culture often views ravens with how the Bible views ravens.

You can read the article for free here: The Raven

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why I Decided To Be A NaNo Rebel

I enjoy participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) each year. It’s helped me to successfully write the first draft of a novel for each of the past three years.

But this year, I wanted something different. I’m going to be busier than in previous years, and since my novels tend to not get truly finished until the end of December due to 80,000+ word lengths, I wanted to write something that would actually be finished at the end of November.

That led to me to consider writing 50,000 words of short stories instead of 50,000 words of a novel. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.

A short story rarely takes more than a few days to write, so if I’m in the middle of one at the end of NaNo, it won’t take me much time to complete. Another benefit of short stories is that they’re far easier to edit than a novel, which means I can have them ready to submit for publication in a much smaller amount of time.

I also like the challenge of writing 50,000 words of short stories in a single month. It’s something I’ve never done before, and I’m sure it will help me grow as a writer.

That’s why I decided to be a NaNo rebel this year and write 50,000 words of short stories.

Are you doing NaNo this year? Have you ever been a NaNo rebel?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Three Christian Horror Stories

Since it's October, I've compiled some of my published horror or suspense stories in case you're in the mood for a few scary tales. The three stories I'll link to below are all free to read online, so click on each title and enjoy!

"The Coming" is about four men who wake up in a creepy house near a dead woman and have to sort out what happened. It was originally published in Fear and Trembling magazine.

"The Black Spot" portrays a righteous woman who has to deal with a rather unusual manifestation of darkness in her life. It was originally published in Fear and Trembling magazine.

"Shattered" follows a woman who receives a mysterious, frightening phone call. It is currently on TWJ magazine's website.

Let me know what you think of the stories!

If you're in the mood for more horror-related reading or think that Christians and horror don't mix, I also have a blog series called Thoughts on Christian Horror, which starts with the post "Dark and Twisted."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Book Review: The Richard Hannay Novels by John Buchan

The Story: A British secret agent has several wild adventures during World War I and in the following years. This exuberant series influenced later spy novels and thrillers.

My Thoughts: Despite it having a good premise and some good scenes, I didn’t find the first book, The Thirty-Nine Steps, to be particularly memorable overall. It feels more like a series of good scenes than a well-plotted book, but because so many of the scenes are so entertaining in and of themselves, I decided to try the next book, in the hope that it would have better plotting. (Note: There's little resemblance between this book and the Alfred Hitchcock film version.)

I found book two, Greenmantle, to be a bit better plotted than the first, though still suffering from the problem of individual scenes being far better than the book as a whole. I almost gave up after this book, since it gave me the impression that John Buchan was an adequate adventure novelist, but not someone to spend time reading when I could be reading better authors. I’d bought a volume that contained all five Richard Hannay books, however, so I decided to give Buchan one last chance by reading the third book, and I’m glad I did.

Book three, Mr. Standfast, finally pairs Buchan’s knack for memorable scenes and interesting characters with a solid, well-paced plot. The result is an excellent thriller. It’s slightly overlong, but it’s so much fun that I hardly noticed the excessive length. For those who like old-fashioned action novels, it’s well worth reading.

Book four, The Three Hostages, upholds the high standards of the third book. If you liked the third book in spite of it being too long, you’re pretty much guaranteed to like this one, where slight overlength is again its only notable flaw. If, however, you thought the third book dragged on too much, then you may feel the same about this one.

Book five, The Island of Sheep, is great for the first half, just like books three and four. In the second half, however, it loses its way, reminding me of the shaky plotting in the first two books. Still, the individual scenes and characterizations are as strong as ever, so it’s a pleasant end to the series, though not a particularly memorable one.

I highly recommend the third book, Mr. Standfast, to all fans of adventure and thriller novels. You don’t need to read the earlier books to understand it. If you like it, be sure to try The Three Hostages, too. And if you are especially fond of old-fashioned adventure novels, you might want to give the whole Richard Hannay series a try.

Content Overview: Some mild foul language and mild violence.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Movie Review: The Wilderness Family Trilogy

The Story: In The Adventures of the Wilderness Family, The Adventures of the Wilderness Family Part 2 (also known as The Further Adventures of the Wilderness Family), and Mountain Family Robinson, a family from the big city decides to try living out in the middle of a wilderness, and soon find themselves plunged into numerous adventures.

My Thoughts: Although this trilogy of family films can’t quite be taken seriously, it’s still entertaining. The great outdoors are portrayed as veering wildly between a paradise and a living nightmare, similar to how a child might imagine adventures in the wilderness. One moment, there’s peace and tranquility next to a magnificent lake, the next there’s a violent blizzard. One moment friendly animals are frolicking all around, and the next a grizzly bear or pack of wolves is attacking.

One would have imagined that at some point, after numerous animal attacks, the family would realize the need to always take a gun along, but they tend to forget, leading to frequent life-or-death fights between them and vicious beasts. The family also does various other dumb things that, of course, add more drama. It can get quite silly, but at the same time, the family’s commitment to each other and the fascinating idea of living in the wilderness add enough substance to keep the films from being too over-the-top. Children who love nature and adults who can handle melodramatic entertainment are likely to find this trilogy at least mildly amusing.

Content Overview: One use of God’s name in vain in the third movie. Other than that, there’s just mild violence relating to animal attacks and wilderness dangers.