Tuesday, October 13, 2009

American Midnight--an early review

Brandon and I have recently finished writing our next novel, American Midnight, which has a tentative release date of February 2010 from Silver Leaf Books. This is an early review by Melissa Meeks, who was gracious enough to read the book for us.

For those that enjoy a riveting political thriller you just may find a wonderful new novel to ad to your TBR come February. Michael Lynch and Brandon Barr have collaborated on American Midnight and proven themselves to be a dynamic duo based on the manuscript I had the pleasure of being thoroughly buried in this past several days.

Thankfully the only literal burial was when one of the characters in the story experienced flashbacks of events she had witnessed prior to the book’s time frame. Truth and Peace collide in this action / adventure tale with a dash of romance. The Unity Party platform is paving the way for one world religion and an elected government hoping to delude Americans into craving the reign of a Biblical Antichrist for the reputed lack of conflict being promised.

Regardless of their intentions many Christians and the true Church as a body soon see through the smoke-screen and concoct their own variety of projects to eliminate the Party. Will the Believers who’ve been roped into this elaborate fraud see True Light before it’s too late? Can the ones already fingered as enemies of this disquieting masquerade be saved by those still under the radar? Tania along with her friends and family will discover if God is Truth as His word declares or if the human order wrought by this new political entity taking over a once free country will prosper despite their evil intentions.

Loss in many forms has plagued Tania throughout her past and present yet as people continue to inform her along the way, she has been spared not as a horrid joke to see her continue suffering but because the One who spared her despite all the close calls has a purpose for her on this earth. If we walk or even run from ultimate Truth, when God has His hand on us we will find the enemy’s efforts to coerce us towards “escape” foiled in order for that purpose to be realized.

Barr and Lynch have crafted a convicting and timely tale that will entrance readers of various genres with a dose of Truth not overtly presented even by contemporary churches in many instances. Be sure to pick up a copy of this page-turner at your earliest opportunity and don’t – I repeat don’t bury it in the TBR lest time run out all too soon.

If you are interested in reading other reviews and/or blogs written by Melissa Meeks, you can find them at:

Bibliophile's Retreat: http://bibliophilesretreat.com/
Subscribe to Bibliophile's Retreat

Also, if anyone looking for editing help with their manuscripts, Melissa would be happy to talk to you about it. Her e-mail address is: melissa.meeks@organizingdetails.com

For those looking book reviews or blog tour posts, Melissa would also be happy to talk to you about that. For those services you can reach her at: inquiries@bibliophilesretreat.com. Although she can't promise to accept every request she receives she does welcome all inquiries.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

LOCAL AUTHOR SHARES HIS INSPIRATION

Sci-fi author Mike Lynch publishes first novel and meets his readers

by Ramon Giwargis, Almaden Valley Times

What would we do if 1,000 alien ships headed toward earth to attack us? How would we react? Would we stop them? These are the questions swirling in the mind of sci-fi author Mike Lynch.

"Ever since I was a kid, I loved science fiction - movies, TV shows," Lynch said. "It's something I know a lot about and have an interest in."

With an unwavering interest in science fiction and a creative mind, Lynch went to work writing his first now, titled "When the Sky Fell." After many months of perseverance and rejection letters, he finally heard the news that would change his life. "When I got the e-mail from the editor that they wanted to green-light my manuscript, I wouldn't believe it," Lynch said. "My wife came in an asked what was wrong. She read the e-mail and started crying."

Lynch found out that the publishing house had approved his manuscript for print. The process of getting the "green light" from a publisher takes many years, in addition to talent and luck. Ninety-nine percent of aspiring authors do not get published.

To help share his story and present readers with "When the Sky Fell," Lynch spent three hours of his Saturday at the Almaden branch Barnes and Noble bookstore. Giving one-to-one attention to each individual, Lynch spent hours speaking to his loyal fans while introducing news readers to the plot of his book. Lynch still had time to sign books and offer publishing advice to aspiring writers.

Long-time friend and fellow sci-fi fan Craig Sanborn came to Barnes and Noble to encourage and cheer on Lynch. "I just really wanted to support him," Sanborn said. "It's so incredible and awesome that he's following his passion and dream. The fact that Mike enjoys some of those old sci-fi TV shows is really great. I like the way he writes and what he puts in there."

Most sci-fi fans appreciate the out-of-this-world ideas and scenarios cooked up by Lynch's imagination.

"I like the salvation thread," said Tina Swanson, who highly recommends "When the Sky Fell." "I find it very detailed and it really does create some graphic images. It's an excellent book. I'm enjoying it. It's a good story and I support him 100 percent."

Barnes and Noble story manager Ali Dangidang welcomes local authors like Lynch to her store and considers it a win-win situation. "We love having authors come in," Dangidang said. "It's a great experience for the community. I hope he sells out. I tend to put authors where there is a lot of traffic to socialize with folks. People come in and want to see what's going on. It creates a community connection."

For Lynch, a history major from San Jose State University and father of two, following his heart and childhood interest led him to triumph. He credits his current success to the fact that he believe in the material he was writing. "You have to believe in the story and not give up," Lynch said, offering the following advice to young writers: "Perseverance. That's what it takes. You have to keep trying, trying, trying."

While Lynch looks forward to his future and writing the sequel to "When the Sky Fell," he always remembers the milestones leading up to his first publication. Most people do not realize that steps needed to publish a book, and Lynch enjoys offering his assistance and advice. "One of the things that's good to have is an objective pair of eyes read your manuscript," Lynch explained. "Someone who knows writing, but not a family member; you need to hear where it needs work."

The business is filled with rejection letters, so Lynch mentions that developing a thick skin helps too. But after years of perseverance and never losing sight of his goal, Lynch has become a successful published author. With his hard work and determination, he proves to others that anything is possible.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mike's newest short story

Mike Lynch's short story, A Small Sacrifice, is in Digital Dragon's latest issue.

Here's a teaser: A battle between two alien warriors, waged on Earth. Two humans caught in the middle. And a lesson in love and sacrifice.

Wanna give it a read, click HERE!

Brandon's new short story

Hey friends. I'm pleased to announce that my short story, "The Kitterson Ranch Incident" has been published by Residential Aliens.

What happens when back country folks run into bigfoot fanatics? Let's just say, things get hairy.

If you want to give it a read, check it out HERE!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Interviews and updates

Mike and I were pleased to have been interviewed by Amy Deardon over at her blog. If you're interested, check out her interview with us: Part One, and Part Two

Also, Mike and I had a blast recording with The Snarky Avenger over at Snark Invested Waters.
The podcast with Mike and I will be available soon.

WRITING UPDATE:
Mike and I are currently on chapter nine of the sequel to When the Sky Fell. We're also re-polishing "After the Cross," are archeological adventure novel. We hope it finds a home with a big Christian publisher!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

When the Sky Fell out in print!!!!


Finally the book is here! It's been a long journey, but its nice to see When the Sky Fell out in print.

If anyone is interested in purchasing the book it's available through Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon, and any regular book chains. You can also purchase the book straight through the publishers website at Silver Leaf Books.

Brandon has a few short stories coming out in online magazines, and he's excited to share those with you all in the upcoming weeks, so stay posted!

And for anyone who wants some info on the book, what its about, reviews, cover art story, etc., you can visit the authors websites:
www.mikelynchbooks.com
or
www.brandonbarr.com

And be sure to check out some of Mike and Brandon's interviews

Listen to Aloft Radio's interview HERE

Or read our interview over at Novel Journey

Monday, April 20, 2009

Listen in to our Cre8iv interview over at Aloft Radio

Check out our interview with Cre8iv! Mike and Brandon talk about writing sci-fi and their book When the Sky Fell.

Just click HERE!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Co-writing a book PART ONE: general formats for Co-writing a novel

Have you ever wondered how two individuals are able to come together to co-author a book? There are, in fact, many formats and methods for co-authoring. In Co-Writing a Book, PART ONE, we will look at general formats.


In PART TWO and PART THREE we will look at deeper issues, such as: How does the process work? How do the two authors not kill one another? How does one pre-plan, begin, write, and finish a complete polished novel with another author?



-----The name recognition co-authorship-----


There are many ways to co-author a book. One of the most common methods is to have one author write the entire first, second, and third draft of a manuscript, polish it up as best he can, and then a second author comes along and gives it “his touch.” In this case the second author is usually a big name marquee writer, whereas the first author, though talented, is not generally well known. You can see these types of co-authored books all over the place, such as grocery store checkout lines, big name chains like Walmart and Costco, and your garden variety book store. Below the titles of these books it reads, "A novel by James Patterson (the big name author),” with (insert little known author here). This is intentional on the part of publishers since they know you are much more likely to buy a book if they can get you to believe that Patterson, for example, wrote more than he actually did. In fact, it is fairly common for the little known author to essentially write the book (likely after some plotting with Patterson’s input), and then after the book is finished, Patterson probably went in, did some tweaking, and gave it his touch and his blessing...and most importantly, his name. The trick in this scenario is getting a marquee writer to partner with you. However, since big name authors are inundated with requests from up and coming writers to co-author a novel with them on a regular basis, the chances of this happen are extremely remote.



-----Mentor/novice co-authorship-----


Let's turn to another method that is similar in format, but done for different reasons. In the mentor/novice co-authorship a fledgling writer is taken under the wing by a seasoned writer. In this format, a novice writer with a gleam of unexplored talent writes a novel. Then comes along a seasoned writer who recognizes the novice’s great potential.


One of two things happens at this point. The novice either asks the experienced writer if they would be interested in more than just a "critique" of the novel, and offers them co-authorship of the book if they’ll go through it and give it their "seasoned" touch, OR the skilled author might offer this themselves. In either scenario, it is always best to let the experienced writer put the final touches on the novice’s promising work.


There are many reasons why a seasoned writer would agree to co-author a book with an unknown. One reason is that they see themselves in the novice, and remember back to when they were a fledgling writer, trying to get their first break. Perhaps a more experienced writer may have taken them under their wing years back, and now they want to repay the “debt” as it were. The seasoned author may also be a teacher at heart, and when they come along another writer who shows promise, is compelled to help strengthen the new writers skills. The seasoned writer may also enjoy the camaraderie of working on a book with another wiser author. Let’s face it, writing is a lonely business. Writers create characters, plots, and places in their imaginations. They are whole worlds that belong to them and them alone, with no one to really share it with. Sure, they can tell other people about their work, but their descriptions are merely faint shadows of what the story is truly about. But with a co-author, he has a partner who has agreed to come along him on his quest, and pledges to see it through to the end. Going on a journey can be a wonderful thing, but going on a shared journey is often much more satisfying.



-----Novice/novice or expert/expert, equal-grounds co-authorship-----


In this kind of relationship, we have two authors coming together to co-author a book who generally possess equal talent. This is the type of co-authorship that PARTS TWO and THREE will be devoted to in further detail.

I believe most of the readers following this article will find themselves in this category...or at least the most curious about this category. Unlike the aforementioned types, both authors are on equal grounds, and thus, there is no automatic structure for them to fall in step with. Where the talented yet unknown author automatically knows he must obey and follow the big name author, and the same with the novice following the lead of the seasoned writer, here we find no such foundation.


Whether they are both novices or experts, this format is the same. So from now on, I'll simply refer to this type as the "equal ground co-authorship."


It should first be noted that there are many different variations within the equal ground co-author relationship. Some co-author relationships may have writer #1 spending most of his time plotting the novel, and writer # 2 writing the novel. Or perhaps writer #1 is really good at dialogue, and writer # 2 is great at narration. You may also have a dynamic where writer #1 thrives in the creative environment, where he crafts the characters, plots, and story lines, whereas writer #2 is a master at polishing, and really getting a story into publishable form. How the co-authors tackle a book really depends on their personalities and preferences. With that said, I believe most equal ground co-authorship's fall into one of two categories:


1) Writer #1 writes the first draft of the novel, and writer #2 goes through and does the heavy editing of the piece.


2) Writer #1 and Writer #2 work on the outline together, and then alternate writing chapters.


The first time I wrote a book was in the first format. An author by the name of Mike Lynch approached me after a few shared e-mail critiques of some stories we had written on our own. We were both unpublished (except for a few short stories) and were certainly on equal terms as fledgling, hard-working novices trying to break out as writers.


When Mike approached me about co-authoring the novel, he'd already finished his book and was seeking a second pair of eyes, feeling that he could no longer look at it objectively anymore.

I said yes, and went through the novel twice, all the while offering suggestions, cutting, adding, whatever I felt would sharpen an already good story.


Because our first foray into co-authoring worked out much better than we anticipated, Mike and I decided to keep writing together, and have to date co-authored two more novels, but in these two later books we used format #2. Together, we decided what kind of story we wanted to write, figured out who the characters were going to be, established their psychologies, set up the plot points and setback, and then went back and forth as we wrote the chapters. Two books later, we both feel our skills have been honed and refined because of this process, with more books planned in the future.


It is in PART TWO and PART THREE that I will dig deeper into the more personal side of co-writing, such as looking at the actual co-author relationship, compatibility factors, meshing authorial voice, creating rules, creating boundaries, creating a contract, and of course...how one might go about choosing a good co-author fit.



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Read our interview in Novel Journey


Novel Journey
ONE OF WRITER'S DIGEST 101 MOST VALUABLE WEBSITES FOR WRITERS, 2008.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sci-Fi Co-Authors, Mike Lynch & Brandon Barr:

You have a unique journey to publication story. Please share it with us.

Mike: This may be surprising for some, but I was not much of a reader growing up. Movies and television were my genres of choice. The flickering images of far off worlds and strange, alien civilizations during my growing years are what fueled my imagination. This makes it all the more strange that I would suddenly come to a realization in 1981 that I could write a novel.
Armed with only blind determination, and a writing style that lacked any semblance of coherent story telling in the beginning, I set about on a 28-year journey to get “When the Sky Fell” published.

Even though the first draft of my novel only took three months to write, it was so filled with spelling errors and story elements I wasn’t happy with, that I couldn’t bear the thought of editing it so soon after finishing, and so I shelved the manuscript until 1996. With the advent of the personal computer, I dusted off my novel and started plowing through the laughable dialogue and poorly realized characters.

After several months work, a halfway decent story began to emerge. But in so doing, I had created a 650-page monstrosity. Again, the thought of editing something I knew was way too long felt overwhelming, and so I shelved the manuscript again. I then spent the next nine years off and on polishing the story, and trimming it down where I could. When I felt it was finally in publishable shape, I went to the Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2005.

One of editors I met there thought my novel showed promise, and asked to see the entire manuscript. After a year of waiting, I received the bad news that the publisher decided to pass. I went to Mt. Hermon the following year, but the people I showed it to felt the Christian Science Fiction market was too limited, and they also passed. It was at this point I seriously contemplated quitting. But before I did I wanted to give it one last chance, and contacted another Christian science fiction author I recently met on the Internet—Brandon Barr.

Brandon: I met Mike over the Internet four years ago...we were both Sci-fi writers and Christians, so we had an automatic camaraderie. We exchanged a few critiques on each other’s writing, nothing major. When he gave me the proposal to heavy edit the novel and become a co-writer, I jumped on it. I was humbled, a bit scared, and really excited. After ten weeks I’d gone through the novel twice closely with Mike.

After we had it polished, Mike went to the Mt. Hermon writer’s conference and tried to pitch it to Christian publishers. When that didn’t happen, we sent it out to the secular markets. Silver Leaf Books liked it and we were excited to sign on with them.

Tell us briefly about When the Sky Fell.

The year is 2217 and a fleet of stellar cruisers led by Commander Frank Yamane has amassed at Mars to make a stand against humanity’s greatest threat, the Deravan armada. Outnumbered, outclassed, and outgunned, Yamane’s plan to stop them fails, leaving all of Earth at the mercy of an enemy that has shown them none.

Faced with the planet’s imminent destruction, Commander Yamane has no choice but to seek the help of the Antarans, an alien civilization he had defeated in a war a decade before. Though they have every reason not to come to Earth’s rescue, Yamane sets forth on a desperate journey to the Antaran home world, knowing that the survival of mankind is hanging by a thread.

Tell us about the experience of co-authoring.

Mike: Though Brandon and I have developed a good working relationship, I know co-authoring a story is not for everyone. The creative process is very personal, and some people have a hard time receiving negative feedback from someone else. But that is what needs to happen if they have any chance of finishing their novel.

A good way to do this is to spell out in detail the creative process that works best for them. Since Brandon and I know that the story must come first, each of us has the permission to critique the other’s work however we see fit. Sometimes, we are on complete agreement. Other times, a bit of convincing in required. So far, neither of us has taken negative comments in a personal way. We listen to each other’s reasons why something in the story needs changing, and then usually find ourselves agreeing with the other. In the end, the story always ends up being that much stronger because we both embrace the collaborative effort.

Brandon: Since writing “When the Sky Fell,” Mike and I have co-authored two other books, and I have to say, it has been the most enjoyable experience. Writing can be a very lonely pursuit. Hard work behind closed doors. It’s like you have a secret life that few people understand, and you end up spilling your ideas upon poor, unsuspecting friends and family at every given opportunity because—my goodness, there is so much creative energy pent up in your mind you feel like you’re going to detonate.

On the other hand, co-writing a book could be a complete disaster. Feelings can be hurt, toes stepped on. It takes the right personalities to make it work. On one side, we have to be very upfront with each other on whether we like something or not—be it a word, sentence, paragraph or chapter. But on the opposite side, we have to be understanding, empathetic, and encouraging. The end result...iron sharpens iron, and we come away with a great story.

Why science fiction? And why Christian Science Fiction?

Brandon: Science fiction is a hugely broad genre. It can be near future or far future, soft sci-fi or hard. There are sub-categories such as apocalyptic, dystopian, military, alternative history, space opera, steampunk, and cyberpunk.Like most other genres, it can either be escapist or direly relevant—or somewhere in between. Science fiction has so many gifts that other genres don’t have, and I would certainly say it’s the freest genre in terms of rules. I can’t go into those gifts because I would need twenty pages.

Why science fiction? Well, in the case of “When the Sky Fell,” I would answer: because you can have good guys and bad guys duke it out in cool spaceships! You can have high adventure, experience amazing galactic wonders, and you can have great characters who carry out their struggles in these fascinating settings.

Why Christian sci-fi? I find it hard to exclude the biggest influence in my life, God. I know Mike shares this sentiment. We write from within our worldview, and that is a Christian worldview.

Mike: I agree wholeheartedly with Brandon. With science fiction, I have the freedom to write about far off worlds and places that exist in my imagination. To me, it is much more enjoyable to write about people and places that are not bound by the limitations of our present existence.
As far as why Brandon and I wrote a Christian Science Fiction novel, we also recognize this particular genre gives us the opportunity to talk about issues that have a huge impact on people’s lives, but at the same time, in a way that allows us to communicate ideas and concepts that are easier for the reader to accept than if we told them in a more straightforward manner. This was the strategy Jesus employed when He communicated the truths of God’s kingdom through the use of parables. Brandon and I wanted to do the same thing with “When the Sky Fell.” Using the science fiction genre as a metaphor, we were able to incorporate the gospel message into the story in a way that is both entertaining, but still communicates the truths of the Bible.

It should be noted that this strategy is not without precedent in our time. In the original “Star Trek” television series, Gene Roddenberry talked about the Vietnam War, prejudice, society injustice, poverty, etc. in many of the episodes he produced. He didn't come out and say, "Hey everyone, stop hating each other." He had Kirk beam down on a planet where that was happening, and showed them a better way to live. Since the audience isn't being pounded over the head with the message, they are more apt to accept and think about it. In our case, rather than telling the reader he needed to repent of his sins and find salvation in Christ, we incorporated that message into a science fiction story in a way that is still accessible to him, but in a way that doesn’t water down the gospel message.

What are some of the special challenges that go along with writing in this genre?

Mike: I am creating a world that doesn’t exist. That means it is my job to describe an imaginary world that has to come alive in the mind of the reader. My story must also be interesting, entertaining, and most important of all, honoring to God. Along the way, if I have communicated the truths of the Bible in a way that engages the reader, then I have done my job well.
Brandon: I think Mike really hit the point when he talked about making the setting and the characters come alive in an unfamiliar future world. There’s a balance of giving the reader new glimpses of what the future looks like, and grounding them in familiarity so that they can hang their imagination on something. If a reader can’t imagine the setting, or if a character is too strange and foreign, then we’ve let the reader down.

How are you reaching the fan base and/or doing your part to expand it?

Brandon: I’ve created a blog dedicated to “Christian science fiction” where I try to draw attention to all aspects of speculative fiction, but with a Christian worldview (www.brandonbarr.com). And another huge part of reaching our fan base has been joining with the Lost Genre Guild. The guild has been a supremely energizing catalyst for expanding the Christian speculative fiction movement, and Mike and I have enjoyed watching the excitement as it continues to escalate. Hopefully one day the speculative genres will have a serious presence in Christian bookstores.

Mike: We have also created our own websites, mine being http://www.mikelynchbooks.com/, and are involved with other Christian writers who share our passion about science fiction and fantasy-based stories. We regularly participate on online forums committed to trying to convince Christian publishers that science fiction is a viable market that has enough of a fan base to warrant them taking a chances on our kinds of books, specifically the Lost Genre Guild and the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour. Silver Leaf Books already has the novel listed on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble online books sites. If people are curious about the book, they can check it out there, or just go to the Silver Leaf website (http://www.silverleafbooks.com/).
Tell us more about the Lost Genre Guild, it's purpose and how large the membership is.
Mike: As I have already alluded to, the Guild is made up of about 200 Christian writers who have a love of science fiction and fantasy. Like myself, many of the members have tried to get their novels published by many of the major Christian publishing houses, only to have the door slammed in their faces. Not because their work wasn’t any good. Rather, the reason offered is typically something along the lines of, “there is no audience for your stories.”

When one looks as the huge success of Star Wars, Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia, etc. ,we refuse to believe their assessment is true. However, since most Christian publishers hold to the idea that the time-tested genres are the ones that ensure future success for their businesses, we will continue to write and hope for that eventual breakout novel. Only then, I suspect, will Christian publishers finally see the market that has been there all along, and we will proudly place ourselves on the bookshelves next to all those thriller and prairie romance novels.

Tell us about your publisher.

Mike: Silver Leaf Publishing is a small print that has been around for about 6-7 years. Since they are new, they are not in a financial position to offer us an advance for our novel, and most of the advertising rests on Brandon and mine’s shoulders.

However, the one big perk we do get with them verses a big publisher is creative freedom. For example, after we signed with Silver Leaf, they sent us some of the artwork from previous novels they published. It quickly became apparent to Brandon and me that it wasn’t something we wanted for our book, and were given permission to hire our own artist. I have a friend who works at Pixar Animation Studios, and he created a great cover for us. If we had gone with a big name publisher, there is no way we would have been able to come up with our own cover artwork.

Brandon: They’ve been great to work with. Since they are a small press, you receive more intimate attention. It’s almost as if your success is their success, and vice versa...you’re not just one of hundreds of authors sustaining their company. Since they only have a handful of authors, the success of the company really rests with us, and so they are much more motivated to ensure our success. With a big publisher, we would be seen more as very small fish in a large pond.
What are, in your opinion, a few of the best of the best novels of science fiction?
Brandon: In no particular order: Dune, Ender’s Game (the entire series), Fahrenheit 451, War of the Worlds, The Martian Chronicles, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Jurassic Park, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, The Postman. And there are scores of great sci-fi short stories.

Mike: Since I wasn’t much of a reader growing up, my experience is much more limited than Brandon’s. With that said, I would have to say Star Wars, Lucifer’s Hammer, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

What have been your challenges trying to promote your novel? What seems to be working and not?

Mike: Since our novel is scheduled to be released until next month, we haven’t had any problems promoting it…at least not yet. Brandon and I have been talking it up with family members, friends, and on the Internet. So far, the results have been very positive. However, we also recognize that people telling us they like the story is not the same thing as them actually buying the book. My biggest concern at this point is getting our novel into bookstores. Since Silver Leaf Books is a small publisher, book chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders are far less likely to stock our novel on their shelves than publishing houses that are better known to readers.

How can fans of science fiction and fantasy help the cause of expanding the market?

Mike: The best thing they can do is buy science fiction and fantasy books. Unfortunately in our culture, reading is quickly becoming a lost art. In a world of downloadable movies and instant text messages, most people today do not have the patience to spend a week or two reading a book. In my mind it is simple math, the more books people buy and read, the more they will expand the market. That is why Brandon and I appreciate the work Novel Journey is doing. If more people set about promoting the joy of reading to others, I believe in time we can reverse this trend.

Brandon: I would have to say make books cool again by talking about them. Movies and television have replaced the written word as a form of social interaction (remind anyone of Fahrenheit 451). Let’s start talking about books again and get peoples’ imaginations and minds engaged. Science fiction is one of the best genres for positing big ideas, and philosophy’s. Christians need to be there.

Thanks so much for being with us. Parting words?

Mike: We appreciate you giving us this opportunity to talk about our book and our writing experience with your members. Through your efforts of exposing them to authors who are just getting started, such as Brandon and myself, you are giving us a chance to enjoy a greater measure of success as authors, and we thank you for that.

Brandon: I share Mike’s sentiments. Thanks for your interest!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Apocalyptic realities


I just finished reading Cormac McCarthy's, The Road. I was moved, terrified, and humbled by this powerful masterpiece. But more importantly, I was given an insight into the heart of man.

The images you see are pre-released from the movie based on the book. They do well to capture the grizzly landscape of an America, post nuclear fallout, where hope and "the good guys" are dying.

The story is told from a father and son bound to each other by love. In this bleak new America, they travel south towards Mexico, running from the great freezing nuclear winter, seeking warmth, and food. Nothing grows any longer. All animals are dead. Only a scattered few humans roam the towns and the roadways, on a continual search for food scraps that have survived in abandoned houses. But these are almost gone


The human heart laid bare:

Who are we, really? The question of man's integrity and goodness has been posited this way: "The real us is who we are when nobody is looking."

However, having read The Road, a revelation struck me. The above phrase doesn't go far enough in all cases. The phrase only works in a civilized setting.

But strip civilization away, and one comes to a new, deeper, darker truth about man: "The real us is who we are when we've been stripped of food, shelter, safety; forced to compete with a struggling few survivors for the scraps of food sources that are increasingly being exhausted; and then we wake up to find that some men are eating each other to survive, and we ask ourselves, who am I truly...who am I willing to become to live another day?"

How would we--as individuals--fare in such a setting. Much of our goodness and goodwill comes from the fact that we ARE satisfied. That we HAVE comforts. We can lose our house, our job; people close to us may pass away, but we still have civilization to fall back upon. How much of our apparent goodness comes from the fact we have every real need met. TV, toilets, showers, those aren't true needs. Food and water for our stomachs, clothing to keep us alive in the cold, Shelter to keep out the rain and the snow and a freeze that reaches deeper than layers of clothing. These are true needs.

"Who are we really?" Ultimately, that comes down to this: "What do I believe about existence?" "What do I believe is the purpose of life?"

In such a desolate scenario as posited in The Road, the answer to those questions determines who you will become.

Will you live for yourself, and keep yourself alive at any cost? Or will you cling to decency and goodness, even if it means you starve to death.

That begs the question...does decency and goodness exist? Civilization is set up in such a way that they do. But when civilization is torn apart, do we still go on holding to its principles?

Only a belief in something greater than oneself could lead one to give up his or her life. But what makes us think such things?

Is good subjective? Is it really something that exists beyond the human imagination.

In The Road, the father struggles with this. He is willing to resort to nearly any means to keep his son alive. This is love, and it defies nature. Nature does not love in the sense that man can love. The father lives for his son, but ultimately, his love for his son, and his will to keep him alive can lead him to do heinous things.

Throughout the novel however, the boy holds his father to goodness. To a higher law. And it is the sons radical adherence to this law that keeps in check his father's relentless, often brutal, devotion.

This powerful work of art does what all good art does. It makes one think. Evaluate. What if one day one's own heart was laid bare? The mask of civilization gone. No self-deception. Only his raw self staring transparent before himself.

We can look even now. Who would we become if such a devastating scenario should take place? The answer to that question is this...

Who we would become; that is a part of who we are now.

And who we are now, and who we can become are wrapped up in the question of existence. Why do I exist? Do I have a purpose?

Your thoughts...

Amazing fish species

I found this amazing species thanks to a the Boing Boing News agency. Yes, this fish does have a transparent head, and yes, that is its brain! To read the full article, click HERE.

What does this tell us about our world? That truth can be stranger than fiction! This magnificent creature is called a Barelleye fish.

Question: If science could develop the ability to make the human dermis translucent, what type of people would rush to have their bodies altered?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009