CSFF Blog Tour- Venom and Song, Day 2

The Writing Factor: Yesterday I wrote about the cool stuff of Venom and Song. Today I want to talk about the writing.

First, I thought Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper did a great job capturing the tone and language of their teenage characters. They also gave colorful descriptions of Allyra. From the caverns of Nightwash to Whitehall where the teenage elves trained, I felt like I could see everything.

And action. Lots and lots of action :). This is not a slow paced book. Between escaping warspiders, sliding down zip lines through the forest, training in the danger room and fighting a war, there was no time to sit and sip tea for these teenage elven lords (yes, that was a pun for anyone who finished the book lol).

Here is my one problem with the writing: there were so many characters I was trying to follow that I was never able to engage in the story. I think the story would have been stronger if it had been told from the point of view of one, two, or maybe three characters. Instead, I was constantly jumping around between the seven main characters along with a couple of the minor characters. There were too many heads for me to follow.

Like I said above, this book is filled with a lot of action. Action is good. You don’t want to hear the story of a well-written character that cleans the lint of his toes while he contemplates the universe. But action doesn’t mean a lot to me unless I care about the characters first and what happens to them.  And because I was constantly jumping around between all the characters, I wasn’t able to connect with any of the characters. I was never given enough time with one character to build that connection.

That is the one thing I wish differently about the book. I believe the story would have been stronger told from just one of the teenagers. But that’s just my opinion :). Tune in tomorrow where I will take a look at the Spiritual Factor of Venom and Song.

*In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

CSFF Blog Tour- Venom and Song, Day 1

As part of the CSFF Blog Tour this month, I had the privilege of reading Venom and Song by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper. I have broken my review down into three parts: The Cool Factor, The Writing Factor, and The Spiritual Factor. Today I will be looking at what is absolutely cool about this book (after all, you can’t have a science fiction or fantasy book without having cool stuff :)). So let’s get on with it!

The Cool Factor: Venom and Song is the second book in the Berinfell Prophecies. We follow seven teenagers who find out they are not humans but really elves living in our world. And not only are they elves, but they are the seven lords of the elves. The first book in the series (Curse of the Spider King) ends with these elves escaping our world through a portal back to their own world of Allyra.

Venom and Song is the continuing story about these young lord and lady elves as they discover their new world and how to control their powers. Cool Factor here: not only are they elves, they have some amazing abilities! Foresight, strength and healing, air walking, speed (like super fast), marksmanship, thought reading (aka mind reading), and fire.

One part of the book I really liked is when the seven teenagers… err… elves are learning how to use their powers together as a team. Imagine the Danger Room for the X-Men elf style :).

This book is a fast-paced, action packed story for young adults (or those young at heart). Tune in tomorrow for a look at the Writing Factor. Until then, check out these other participants of the CSFF Blog Tour to see what they are saying about Venom and Song.

Angela

Brandon Barr

Keanan Brand

Amy Browning

Beckie Burnham

Melissa Carswell

Jeff Chapman

Valerie Comer

Amy Cruson

CSFF Blog Tour

D.G.D. Davidson

April Erwin

Tori Greene

Ryan Heart

Bruce Hennigan

Timothy Hicks

Becky Jesse

Cris Jesse

Jason Joyner

Julie

Carol Keen

Krystine Kercher

Dawn King

Leighton

Rebecca LuElla Miller

John W. Otte

Donita K. Paul

Sarah Sawyer

Chawna Schroeder

Tammy Shelnut

James Somers

Kathleen Smith

Rachel Starr Thomson

Robert Treskillard

Steve Trower

Fred Warren

Jason Waguespac

Dona Watson

Phyllis Wheeler

Jill Williamson

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Working out in God’s Gym

I had a nice happy bunny-fluffy kind of post ready for today. But as I sat down to write this post, I felt bruised, tired, and exhausted inside. I felt like I had worked out in God’s gym this week.

It began with an email that left me feeling as though I had gone through a hurricane. Ever had one of those? But through the torrent of emotions, God spoke to me. And he reminded me that nothing catches him by surprise, including this email. He would take care of it; my job was to love this person. After years of doing this particular rep on the “dumbbell”, it didn’t take me long to turn it over to God and pray for this person.

Then I locked myself out of my house not once, but twice on the same day. That was actually kind of funny. Its like tripping on the mat on my way over to do my power sweeps.

Ah, power sweeps. Anyone who has ever lifted weights knows the power sweeps.

Guess what? I hate them! Back when my version of lifting weights was actually lifting weights (opposed to now which is lifting kids, dogs and boxes of things I need to unpack) the dumbbell would leave bruises along my hipbones because unlike men, I have hips and the dumbbell would catch on its way up. Yeah, ouch!

My power sweeps this week were a broken washing machine and a husband with a pulled muscle in his back. Bad, bad, bad! If I miss one day of laundry, it multiplies like bunnies and the next morning I find the laundry has made its way out of the hamper, eager to take over the rest of the house.

Husband with a pulled back? Feels like the family is gimping along without their fearless leader. No tackling dad, no practical jokes, and no going anywhere 😦

So as I sat down to write my happy post, I could think of nothing to say. All I felt was exhausted. I prayed for God to show me something to say. Then I felt God tell me to share my week. Because we all have those kinds of weeks. A week where it feels like we are working out in God’s gym. But you know the good thing about working out in God’s gym? Its good for us! Our faith muscles grow stronger.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2-3 (NLT)

So bring on the dumbbells! Bring on the power sweeps! And don’t forget the Gatorade 🙂

My First Rejection

I am a stubborn woman (I think my husband just said amen to that :P). I figure out my goal then throw myself at it. I strategize, plan down to the minute detail and calculate my odds at achieving that which I want most. I subconsciously live by the belief that if I just work hard enough at it, I can have it.

But sometimes what I want and what God wants for me are two different things.

Sometimes he says wait.

I just received my first book rejection two weeks ago. Now at first read, that would seem like a bummer. No one likes to be rejected. However, this person had a lot of nice things to say about my manuscript. As a writer, I needed to hear that. But she let me know, in the end, that the Christian book market at this point is not looking for a book like mine.

Anything else I could work with. If my manuscript needed more work, I could do that. Better writing, a thorough grammar check, a stronger main character: those are things I have control over. But the market? No matter how hard I work, I cannot change the market.

I stared at the email a couple more times, elated that someone liked my work and yet disheartened about the state of the market. Why write then? I thought. Then God pointed out two things:

He is not confined by the market. He can do what he wants when he wants. If God wants my book out there, then he has the power to do it (that if is a scary word).

And

Only he can make it happen. I can write the best book I can, but only God can bring together the market and the people to make it happen. That is out of my hands.  Believe me, the stubborn side of me wants to. But I can’t.

So what do I do now? I write and wait on Him. Waiting is not easy, but it produces patience and self control. Instead of barreling on ahead with my own agenda, I am learning to quiet myself and wait for God to move. That might be months or it might be years. I might not see it in my lifetime. But I believe that I am supposed to write. So therefore I will continue down the path God has shown me and trust him with the ending to my own life story.

Investing in True Beauty Part 2

Last week I shared my thoughts on true beauty. This week I would like to share how I put that into practice.

I love to make New Years Resolutions. I may not keep them for long, but the thought of pursuing a goal for an entire year appeals to a checklist person like me :). As I approached the year 2007, I was physically a different person. I had given birth to twins that summer (6lbs, 3oz and 8lbs, 2oz) and let me tell you, having that much baby changes a woman forever!

As you can imagine, the types of resolutions I considered that year were diets, exercise, any method I could follow to get my body back to what it was. Then God spoke. When he speaks, I have learned you better listen up!

He showed me that what I really needed to pursue that year was learn to like myself. But God, I wailed, have you seen what I look like in the mirror? God pointed out that those thoughts were poisoning me. When I complained about what I looked like, I was in essence saying, “God, you made a mistake!”

That sobered me up. And I came up with my New Year’s resolution. I chose for an entire year not to criticize the way I looked. Every time I looked in the mirror and wanted to find fault, I stopped. That was not allowed. Instead I would look at myself and see what God had made.

I also hid the scale. I was not allowed to weigh myself. Too many times I would become obsessed with numbers. Instead, I chose to be fine with my new mommy body.

And lastly, I threw out my pre-pregnancy clothes (I think every woman has a box of them hiding in her closet, hoping one day she might fit them again). They were my past, not my present. I needed to move on.

And my friends, it worked! After about six months, I found I no longer looked in the mirror and found fault. All I found was Morgan. I was not tied to the digital number that registered down at my feet. And I went and bought clothes that fit me right now.

That New Year’s resolution changed my life. I learned that a mommy body was okay. I learned that what I was on the inside mattered more than what I was on the outside. I learned to like the person God had made me.

Investing in True Beauty

This is a post I wrote a couple years ago, shortly after I had the twins. I’m revisiting this because lately I’ve been struggling with my outer appearance (yes, I actually do sometimes) and it helped to reread something I wrote years ago. Hopefully you will find it encouraging too.

If your morning is anything like mine, you do the following: look into a mirror, evaluate the work that needs to be done and start pulling out the necessary equipment needed to transform the ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. And there’s nothing wrong with that (trust me, after being up all night with twins, I would scare people by the way I look in the morning). But a thought hit me the other day that I would like to share with you.

How many of us wish we could change one part of the way we look? Perhaps it’s your hair, your legs, your face, fill in the blank… Unless you’re really rich and can afford plastic surgery, the best makeup, and constant visits to the beauty salon, you’re stuck with what you were born with (and for those of us with short legs, science has yet to figure out how to make them longer).

But there is a part of you that you can change. It’s what’s inside of you. God calls it “unfading beauty”. Eventually your outer body is going to age. You can color your hair, but someday it will be white. You can wear color contacts to get the eye color you always wanted, but someday those eyes will be hidden behind a pair of glasses or whiten with cataracts. You use every cream that promises to forestall wrinkles, but eventually they catch up. And your weight will change, especially if you have children (trust me, I know; been there, done that). Our bodies are fading beauties. Like flowers, we bloom. But then the petals droop and eventually fall off.

So since we really can’t change what we look like on the outside, we should start investing in that which we can change: our inside. Anyone woman can do it. It doesn’t require a lot of money. Just time with God, time in the Bible, and a change in our perspective of what true beauty is.

So what is this true beauty that every woman can possess? God calls it a “gentle and quiet spirit” which is so precious to Him. That’s right, this kind of spirit is precious to God. And it’s available to every woman, whether she is freckly, has frizzy hair, or weighs more than she did in high school. And it will never fade. When your outer body starts to succumb to the ravages of time, you can control what your insides look like. In fact, you can posses it now.

Jesus is the prime example of this kind of beauty. The Bible says “there was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.” (Isaiah 53:2b NLT). Yet as we read the gospels, Jesus is one of the most beautiful people who walked the earth. His “gentle and quiet” spirit shone through to the point that people ceased to see his physical appearance and saw his true beauty within. He served others selflessly, healed those no one else would come near, and loved the world to the point of dying for it.

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of beauty I want. I want a gentle spirit (this word can also be translated “meek” which means power under control and I don’t know anyone who has more power than Jesus, yet his was always under control). I want a quiet spirit (this does not mean never speak; rather it means in all situations, we are quiet before God and allow Him to direct the way we respond to the situation). I want to serve selflessly, love unconditionally, and let kindness seep out of my pores. This is the kind of beauty that will never fade. This is the kind of beauty you can possess now.

Now don’t start throwing out your curling iron or mascara. It’s okay to make yourself look nice (I love to look nice for my husband). But consider how much time you are investing in your outer appearance and your inner self. One is going to fade, nothing can really stop that. But the other will last to the day you die. Not everyone can be a super model, but every woman has the opportunity to be the most beautiful woman on the inside. It’s not hard to realize which one is worth investing in more, is it?

“You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:4 (NLT)

August 2010 CSFF Blog Tour: Your Favorite, Day 2

After visiting many of the participating blogs during this tour, it would seem both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were a big influence in our love of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I also discovered some other books while perusing other bloggers’ sites. One I had forgotten was Taliesin by Stephen Lawhead (Phyllis Wheeler posted about this book http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/blog). Great rendering of the story of Merlin (or more accurately, his parents).

I also discovered a book by C.S. Lewis that I have not yet read. Curious? Yeah, so am I. The title is Till We Have Faces. If you want to find out more, Becky dropped hints about it within her post http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/csff-blog-tour-your-favorite-day-1/comment-page-1/#comment-2964

For my regular readers, do any of you have a favorite Christian science fiction or fantasy book? Love to hear from you 🙂

In Darkness there is Light

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