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Friday, November 19, 2010

Literary Inspirations

I was asked by a coworker this week what literature has inspired me in my writing of The Gateway Chronicles, and I thought that perhaps the answer to that question might make for an interesting blog post, so here goes...

I have absolutely no hesitation in answering a question like this because I have always been very cognizant of the fact that a hugely important part of writing is the art of imitation. My awareness of this has only been sharpened in recent years as I have taught at a classical school in which there is a definite ideology of learning from the masters that have gone before us. Now, some people balk at this idea in regard to creative writing, and I have (at more than one time) had people recoil in horror and say, "You mean you copy other writers?! Isn't that plagiarism?" To which I have to answer, "Don't be absurd. Of course I don't mean that I copy other writers, but I do strive to emulate and imitate truth, beauty, and goodness as found in my favorite works. But I diverge... let me get back to the matter at hand by listing my strongest literary influences and saying in a nutshell what I have learned from each one (and therefore seek to also do in my own writing).

1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis is definitely my oldest inspiration. It was Lewis (via Narnia) that first taught me how to suspend disbelief, and that depth of meaning does not need to be couched in lofty language.
2. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. I read The Hobbit many years before The Lord of the Rings and I love them both in different ways. I think it was the former that taught me that fantasy writing should be clever (the chapter "Riddles in the Dark" impressed me and I often have returned to the book simply to read that chapter over again), and the latter that defined High Fantasy for me and taught me that fantasy literature should also be epic.
3. The Archives of Anthropos by John White were books that I dearly loved. It was through them that I saw how a different spin can be put on another person's idea to create something entirely new, and that it was not plagiarism to do so. (They are very reminiscent of Narnia.)
4. From Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice I learned that the real meat of a story is in compelling, dynamic characters. I was given this book at age 13 and have read it at least once a year ever since.
5. J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter helped me to see that fantasy need not be allegorical in order to contain Christian themes, symbols, and messages, and that sometimes the most commercial-looking literature can be the most profound. I also learned from Harry Potter the joy of growing up with characters and that a series of books must be planned from beginning to end before the ink ever hits the page if it is to be a success. (I could also go into the literary alchemy that I learned from reading these books, but I would have to then also give credit to author and "Hogwarts Professor" John Granger).
6. And last, but not least, The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Although children's fantasy, I only stumbled upon these books as an adult... and fell immediately in love with them. From them I learned that epic fantasy (ala Lord of the Rings) could also come in a small package. They also reaffirmed everything that I had already learned from all my previous inspirations about the hero of a story: He/she must start out flawed and learn a little something along each step of the way. And although the hero need not be perfect by the end of a tale, the greatest lesson that he/she can learn is how to be selfless and self-sacrificing. Surround this hero with caring, bold, empathetic, loving, and humorous friends, and it should be a formula that works every time.

Well, I realize that I have been long-winded, but I am rather scatterbrained from lack of sleep (self-imposed... but I could not miss the midnight premier of Harry Potter 7 last night!). I hope this has been interesting. I have half a mind to revisit some of these topics in later blogs throughout the course of the year. But for now, to bed!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The Oracle is now available on Amazon! It takes a while for all of the information to be uploaded to Amazon, but if you click on the link to the right, you can get directly to the page where you can purchase it. Don't forget that if you buy more than one, you can get free super saver shipping!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Available for Purchase!

I am happy to announce that book 2 of The Gateway Chronicles: The Oracle is now available for purchase! Just follow the link: The way that createspace works is that it is immediately for sale at the e-store (above) and it will show up on Amazon over the course of the next several days. I will be babysitting Amazon to check up on when it becomes available and will be sure to set up a hyperlink as soon as possible. A few notes on when and how to purchase: If you know that you only want to purchase one copy at the time being, it helps me the most to purchase it on the e-store mentioned above. If, however, you know that you want to immediately order two or more copies, it would be better for YOU to wait for it to show up on Amazon. Amazon offers free super saver shipping on purchases over $25.00, so larger orders save you money on shipping on Amazon (although I make about half the amount on the actual book compared to what I make on the e-store). It will also come available at large bookstores like Barnes and Noble or Books A Million for order, but I make very little money if they are purchased through the large chains. (Really, though, I'm happy for it to be purchased through any and every channel! I just want people to read my books!). If you live in town, you can also purchase it by paying me directly to order one in for you. I pay shipping in that situation and make the most money on the actual book. Well, I think that's all! I have to say that I feel an immense amount of relief at having finished the second book! Now I will rest for a few months, and then on to book 3: The White Thread.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Final Review

The Oracle is finished and submitted for its final review. This review process is typically very fast and I hope to be able to say that it will be approved in the morning, but we'll see. I'm a tiny bit concerned about some sizing on the cover, but if there is a problem with that, I should be able to get it ironed out within a day. Either way, I HOPE that it will be available for sale by the end of the weekend.

I just have to say that the completion of this project at the end here has been so totally exhausting. This week has been filled with many sleepless nights, and I've been struggling with migraines and an ulcer (heh, go figure) for the past two weeks. It's almost painful to be this close to the end and simply sitting and waiting for the review to go through, but waiting is part of the process as well. Next year when I am getting out book 3: The White Thread I'm going to try to manage my time more efficiently so that I don't feel this way around this same time a year from now. If somebody were to ask me if it is all worth it, however, I would of course say yes. I know that writing is in my blood, and it gives me a euphoric rush like nothing else on earth. To steal from Chariots of Fire, "When I [write], I feel God's pleasure!" I wish that I could come up with something more profound than that right now, but it is almost 3:30 in the morning and I have been working on finishing up the final revisions for 8 hours (following an 8 hour work day teaching, of course). I think that it is time to go to bed.