Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Review: Wolf Rider by Avi

The Story: A teenage boy gets a random call from a man who claims to have just murdered someone. When no murder victim can be found, the police and everyone else begins thinking the call was from a prankster. The teen, however, fears that the man may truly end up murdering someone, and sets out to find him, putting himself in danger.

My Thoughts: From its riveting opening scene to the brutal confrontation at the end, this book stays consistently suspenseful, vividly portraying the courage of a teenage boy who seeks to do what he knows is right without compromise, even when it causes his dad to turn against him and puts him in peril.

The ending unfortunately leaves significant subplots unresolved and is overly ambiguous, which is odd due to the clarity of the book up until that point. However, the main plot is well-written and wraps up pretty well, so the parts that aren’t wrapped up don’t ruin the book. Fans of YA thrillers are likely to enjoy it.

Content Overview: There’s some foul language, but most of it is mild, aside from in the tense first scene in the book. While there’s a lot of intensity, the violent scenes are brief and fairly mild otherwise.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wings of Hope

A new article of mine, "Wings of Hope," has been published by Christian Magazine Today. "Wings of Hope" looks at the many times the Bible uses birds to remind us to hope in God’s love.

Birds fly about through the pages of the Bible, often bearing messages of hope. Sometimes hope is pointed to by true stories, such as when a dove brings Noah an olive leaf, letting him know it’s safe to leave the ark (Genesis 8:10-11), or when God uses ravens to bring Elijah food (1 Kings 17:1-6). Most commonly, however, birds appear as symbols, reminding us . . . Read More


Friday, January 16, 2015

Movie Review: The Three Lives of Thomasina

The Story: An eccentric but friendly cat inadvertently draws together the lives of a veterinarian who has grown cold after the death of his wife, a daughter who feels lost due to the death of her mother and seeing the bad change in her father, and a woman who lives in the forest and heals animals with the power of love.

My Thoughts: While the story rambles about quite a bit, it is surprisingly compelling, with endearing characters who help make up for any weaknesses in the plot. Despite its simplicity, the story takes on some deep and complicated issues. One of the most notable is its attack upon the idea that science and religion are opposed to each other.

The cat of the title appears to have sort some of pagan religious experience involving a cat goddess, but the rest of the film has a fairly Christian worldview, so one can perhaps perceive the cat’s experience as imaginary. Badgers make an appearance, which is always nice, since they are a neglected creature in movies. All in all, it’s a strange but charming film.

Content Overview: Some veterinarian scenes involving wounded and sick animals might be too much for small children. A few other intense scenes take place, but what little violence occurs is mild. Some parents may not like the ambiguous portrayal of a few pagan ideas.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The First Draft of Ghost Reign is Finished!

A just-for-fun cover.
Back in November, I started a novel for National Novel Writing Month, and today I finished the first draft.

Ghost Reign surprised me by ending up at 97,000 words, since I had expected it to be around 80,000 words. The word count was especially surprising since my novels tend to turn out shorter than I plan rather than longer.

After letting the novel sit a bit, I’ll read over it and see how it turned out.

Do you have any writing news to share?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Highlights of 2014

While I still have a long way to go as a writer, I reached some small milestones in 2014, including getting my first article published, and bringing my total of published works to ten. Here are some other highlights from the past year.

Some publications my writings
appeared in this year.
- Nine of my articles and short stories were accepted for publication, and one short story won a contest.

- My published writings from this year that are the easiest to access online are “Shattered” (a suspense story) and “Ticks and Tricks” (an article).

 - I wrote 50,000+ words of a novel, Ghost Reign, for National Novel Writing Month, and I'm continuing to work on the first draft. I hope to finish it in the next two weeks.

 - I had the fun coincidence of being in the middle of reading a book by James Scott Bell at the same time a story of mine appeared in an issue of a magazine with a story of his.

- I also read a lot of good books this year, and here are some of my favorites:

Fiction

Z for Zachariah by Robert O’Brien
The Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Outcast of Redwall by Brian Jacques
Head Game by Tim Downs

Non-Fiction

Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur
Discovering Badgers by Martin Banks
Spiders and Their Kin: A Golden Guide
The Elements of Style by Strunk & White
A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller

In 2015, I plan to submit to many more magazines, and if all goes well, start looking into getting books published.

How did 2014 go for you? What are your plans for 2015?