You've heard the expression "the devil's in the details", and it's up to you which translation of that little phrase you care to use or understand. When I'm reading a novel, I love details, but even I will admit there can be too many or too much.
If you've ever read any of Tom Morrisey'snovels, you know that Tom employs many details. In my favorite book of his, In High Places, Tom uses his rock climbing knowledge with all the proper terms and descriptions of the equipment and experience. He never talks down to the reader. I guess he figures if the reader doesn't know or can't grasp the term(s) he uses, he/she will look it up - which I had to do a couple of times. In my opinion Tom Morrisey uses just the right amount of focused detail to convey authenticity in his stories.
Some authors interrupt their stories to explain detailed information, making what has been narrative morphing to conversational. When the writing changes from the organic deliverance of information (i.e. via dialogue) to the recitation of definitions, the details become a hindrance to the story. If the detailed description goes on too long, the continuity of the story succumbs to potentially losing or boring the reader.
Some readers don't want to read about characters' appearances. I do, providing the description of those details isn't cliché. It takes some finesse to do this because, after all, there are only so many shades of blue, so many colors of hair, so many types of builds, and you get my drift. To set individual characters apart, an author has to make those details unique as the character who "wears" them. Sometimes it's another character's point of view making the observation of those details and it's reasonable to assume some of those observations might be typical and clichéd.
What kind of details do you enjoy reading, and can you think of an author who does "details" well?
Father, you gift us all differently according to your design and pleasure. Thank you for it all and for viewing each of us equally. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
You know I loathe promoting myself. That's not to say I don't believe in my work because I do know that some people have enjoyed my stories and found something meaningful in them.
But it's Friday, and I've got little to say other than these are my two novels formatted for e-readers,The Famous One only for Kindle and Destination for all versions. They're priced inexpensively ($1.99 and $2.99 respectively) and do contain the gospel message to be upfront about their spiritual content.
The Famous One reads like a fictional biography and Destination is a small town love story. Here are the blurbs:
The Famous One takes an introverted yet passionate character of few words and deep running emotion and puts him into the spotlight of fame where he is hungry for value, substance, and real love but struggles to find them.
Life leads us to and from many places, but when it comes to eternity there are only two choices for our destinations . . .
An unlikely felon returns to his roots and the friendship of a fiery old widow. The last things he expects to find are true love, a ministry to youth, and the unusual burden for his new love’s ex-fiancé. Destination
Father, thank you for the privilege and pleasure of writing my novels. You provide the inspiration. Apart from you, I can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Maybe all writers don't consciously intend to author a masterpiece, but the ones I know all desire to write something meaningful. From humor to drama to western to contemporary, I don't know a single writer who doesn't work diligently to create something of value. Preferably, lasting value. To be remembered. Whether it be with a giggle or tears, a whimsical wish or an applicable hope, we want to leave a reader with a good memory for having invested in what we wrote.
Masterpiece might be grandiose, but sometimes when we really feel the anointing to write a story, when we're done with the process, it feels like our hearts touched that place reserved for reverent experiences.
I suppose most of us appreciate certain artists and their paintings or sculptures whether or not they are identified as The Masters of old. Will some contemporary artists eventually belong to their esteemed grouping? Impossible to know. You can bank on the fact that each one sets out to wow whoever views their work - and of course to satisfy his soul.
We writers in the faith can understand the source of our creativity and the pleasing nature of our dedication to fulfilling our callings. I suspect the Lord takes far more pleasure from our determination to be obedient to His instruction than we realize. And I assume He enjoys the finished work dedicated to Him with gratitude.
I admit I long to compose a novel which some might call a masterpiece, but I doubt I ever will. I'll settle for pleasing the Lord and a few readers along the way of my journey here.
Father, thank you for the privilege of writing stories. Thank you for the inspiration that I can't find anywhere else but from you. Thank you for your generosity when I don't deserve it. And of course I'm desperate for you. And thank you is never, ever enough. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Let me skip over the supposed origin of the story and just take it at face value. To do that I must admit to being a youngster in the 50s, a "Yankee" or a "nothena" (northerner), specifically a daughter of the northwest. And naively oblivious to the troubles of the south and, frankly, to its history. My sheltered city life didn't teach me to subjugate any people. I can honestly say I did not consciously know prejudice. This simple fact of my upbringing makes it difficult and slightly unfair to critique this type of southern novel.
When I was in the fourth or fifth grade, I visited a friend. While she readied herself for whatever we planned to do, I happened to see the TV was on in the living room where I waited. I watched while a man took a brick to another man who happened to be black and beat him in the head with it. I almost vomited. This wasn't a newsreel, it was a drama of some kind. The sound effects were advanced because I never forgot the sound of that brick meeting a skull. If what I saw was about prejudice, I didn't realize it at the time, and I don't remember anything else about that day except the sound and sight of that beating.
So, Scout (Jean-Louise) Finch grows up and moves to New York and returns for a visit to the fictitious town of her birth in Alabama to visit her father (Atticus), his brother (Dr. Finch), sister (Alexandra), and her childhood companion and first love, Henry "Hank" Clinton. The trip begins well, although she wonders if she truly wants to have a romantic relationship with Hank even though he plans to marry her.
By this time, her dad's arthritis is advancing and he requires some assistance from his sister since their Negro housekeeper Calpurnia has since retired. Her aunt's odd situation has allowed her to move into Atticus' home. Life seems somewhat unchanged to Jean-Louise until she attends a town council meeting and is shocked to hear the guest speaker. At that point, everything she thought she knew about her upbringing, her father, Hank, and her aunt comes tumbling down around her, rattling her to the point of near hysteria.
She confronts her father with her ire in full force and is shocked at his response.
The story rocks back and forth from the present to the past memories from Scout's/Jean Louise's point of view, noting the similarities but concentrating on the differences from her childhood to her womanhood of 26 years. The contrast in her perceptions of her father and Hank drive her to an unlikely scene with her aunt and uncle which somehow placates her attitude and allows her to reconsider the emotional outburst which spewed her wrath at Hank first and then her beloved father.
Poisonous racism and the associated insidious attitudes of the south from both sides of the racial divide in that time period lie at the heart of this novel, so it's interesting - and rather suspicious - to consider the timing of the release of this novel. It feels as if there is a political underbelly to the controversy around this book coming into print after all these years.
The story is almost like a journal of Scout Finch's progress from her youth to a young woman, always rebellious to the process of becoming a "southern belle". An intentional misfit, a bit profane, not always likeable, she somewhat resents the town of her origin and its traditions, railing against the prejudices she failed to notice in her early life. The title, a rough reference to a biblical concept, suggests that mankind can "set" his conscience as a guard to corruption, but clearly mankind cannot always successfully do so.
Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee will reflect some of those feelings experienced in the south during those racially-charged years, and, sadly, once again we see an attempt to resurrect them in our time.
Father, only you know the hearts of mankind, and only you can save our souls. Thank you that you even consider any of us worth saving. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
". . . It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
So. Is this the end? You know: the end of Christian Fiction as we know it? Some say, "I hope so." Others say, "Of course not." And some of us just sit and watch. Thought provoking articles derived from other posts and comments add fuel to the smoldering fire and add new angles to the limited controversy.
My opinion is just one in a sea of writers, authors, and publishing professionals. My opinion says it is not the end of Christian Fiction, but it could be the end of Christian Fiction as we currently know it. The reason I say this is because the staunch demographic will one day not be enough to sustain it as it has for so many years. Amazing authors who've been entrenched with their publishers for a solid number of years are being let go. Being of sound mind and talent, some of them have turned indie and began to invest in their own measures to publish their works, many discovering they can make more money but add a little/lot more work to their endeavors. Other previously successful authors have become hybrids with contracts and publishing their own work, hence gaining the best of both worlds.
Enough devoted Christian Fiction readers have decided they want more from their novels. Some have migrated to the general market and suffered through the language or graphics of certain novels trying to find those intriguing stories which resonate. These readers have their favorites in the Christian market, but fewer of those favorites seem to be showing up in diminishing bookstores and cost an exorbitant amount online with shipping. E-books from the usual publishers are over-priced compared to e-books in general and after purchasing the lower priced e-books, it's not attractive to pay exorbitant costs in a competitive market.
When the publishers/sellers decided to glut the bookstores with Amish stories, romantic historicals and suspense, and sweet little romances as their primary fare, many readers turned away and began shopping online. With the explosion of Christian writers entering the independent market and small publishers picking up the slack to offer more of a variety in their novels, readers journeyed in their direction. Most die-hard readers prefer to hold a book in their hands, but the convenience and costs of reading them from an e-reader have caused a surge in e-book publishing.
I write Christian Fiction so, of course, I'm not going to adhere to its demise as a general genre. Indie publishing can be a lot of work to do it well, and it isn't an option for some. Many will pay to have their work published because of the technicalities to do it themselves (that would be me). Too many readers who love the Christian themed stories ache for authenticity, reality, and will continue to search for those authors who meet their preferences. I've read more general market novels in the last few years than I had read in many years. I tired of the "traditional" offerings from the usual CBA publishers. Formulaic, predictable, unimaginative, and some very average writing provided the impetus for my veering away from the publishing houses from whom I used to buy. I can also say I've read more smaller press and independent authors' work in the last two years and found some wonderful authors and writers. And then there's my own stuff: I write what I want to read.
So that's just my "one more opinion" added to the mix on this topic.
Father, help me to continue to do what you have for me to do. That's all that matters. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I cannot listen to this song without intermittently weeping and praising the Coming King. Things on planet earth are ugly and depraved now, growing more evil as the days pass. Our country has never been so ensconced in such wickedness as it is at present. It has endured trickle-down evil. This song by Rich Mullins and The Ragamuffin Band is a masterpiece in so many ways. The creator(s) of this particular accompanying video is(are) to be commended for their perception of an amazing song. If you have the opportunity, the extended version of this song with some of Christian music's best musicians and vocalists is well worth your time and attention.
Jesus, we wait for you. Thank you is never enough. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Closure by Randall Wood begins the Jack Randall Thriller Series. FBI Special Agent Jack Randall is assigned to head up the case of a sniper killing of a well-known defense attorney who specializes in big money clients who are serious criminals and repeat offenders. This is only the beginning. Closure is free at the present time if you purchase it for your Kindle.
Closure is the story of a former Special Ops soldier who has lost something precious to him. He is aided by his brother-in-law as they meticulously plan for every contingency in accomplishing the point they want to make. With the first death of the attorney, Agent Jack Randall is forced to acknowledge two things. The first is his admiration for the perfect shot it took to kill the attorney like it did, and the second is the handwritten note left at the scene addressed to him.
Although the efforts to keep the press from gaining the specifics of the murder is almost successful, there is one reporter who stuck around and did his due diligence to learn something not released to the media. Journalist Danny Drake forms an unlikely alliance with Jack at Jack's request and together they respectfully work on who the shooter is and what the first and following letters mean.
The story moves back and forth from the shooter "Sam" to Jack to other members of the investigative team to hiring a whiz kid son of a sheriff who's taking a break from MIT. There are multiple characters introduced as the story continues and Jack finally realizes who and what is at the center of it all.
The final scene between Jack and Sam is very well done and truly the highlight of the story. Closure, aptly named, makes some salient points and creates a mostly sympathetic character in Sam. The epilogue works perfectly and brings a meaningful conclusion to the story.
If you're looking for a new thriller series, Randall Wood created a likeable protagonist in Jack Randall and good intensity from many angles while searching for the answers to give all parties closure. Fascinating and devastating statistics headline each chapter.
The problem with secular fiction for us Christians is the lack of hope and eternal resolution. It's heartbreaking when the reality of lost characters concludes.
Weaknesses are few, but if I had to include them, I would say the brief first mention of Jack's wife is anything but complimentary and her character completely fades after their first "situation". Not that I had any desire to see her further - the point being she was a wasted character. Secondly, I would say the detailed and lengthy descriptions of amateur bomb making and the continued maximum efforts of the medics on scene of a shooting as they're tied up in traffic racing to the hospital might have been overdone. The bomb making instruction exposes the ease with which anyone who understands basic circuitry can download the instructions from the internet to make a very destructive bomb from materials that if purchased carefully will not clue in authorities. The process of trying to save a gunshot through-and-through victim might have shown a little bravado from the author's history and experience. I appreciate details, but both of these instances - to me - seemed excessive.
Highly recommended. Some profanity.
Father, thank you for the multiple talents you've given Randall. I pray he would gain true insight which only you can give to go along with all that talent. Bless him and his family as only you can do. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Jesus replied, "And you, experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
"Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God, in his wisdom said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.' Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.
"Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering."
When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say.
We can call a character a stereotype, but the reality remains: there is truth in stereotypes. The difficult part for a writer is tweaking that stereotypically endowed character with some kind of unique quality which separates him/her from the branding. Not an easy task.
Honesty is required in authentic stories, and if we're honest, real people have created the stereotypes with repeated behaviors that have brought recognition to those "typical" defining characteristics.
Stereotypical characters and phrases and clichés have all brought criticisms from other writers and some readers. I think this happens when the characters, what they do and say, offer little imagination and it seems like they've appeared in too many stories, on television, or in the movies just like they are on the pages of the book. As a result, they're boring and predictable and serve no valuable purpose there except to irritate the reader.
It's often difficult to exclude at least one stereotype from a story with multiple characters. Not every individual can be "different" enough to escape stereotypical behavior(s). The question is how do you think stereotypes can be included in a story without meeting disapproval?
Father, help us with our skills, share with us parts of your grand imagination and creativity that we may put pieces of them on the pages of the stories you inspire us to write. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I can't help it. I loved every one of them. Hope you remember these scenes. And if you haven't seen this series, you must. Start at the beginning with Curse of the Black Pearl and keep going. You'll pick your favorites.
Lord, let them find you. Somehow, lead them to your Son. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Casey Hillis the pseudonym for the husband/wife writing team (Kevin and Melissa Hill) who write mysteries and live in Dublin, Ireland. Taboo is the first in the Reilly Steel, Forensic Investigator, Series.
Reilly Steel, California girl, was trained by the best at Quantico and has a sterling reputation as a forensic investigator when she transfers to the GFU team in Dublin, Ireland, mostly to keep an eye on her alcoholic father who isn't coping with their family's past. Resented by the elder old-school head of the unit, he takes off on an anniversary vacation. Horrific murders soon begin in his absence and they're no ordinary murders. Reilly does her best to upgrade the investigative science and methodology of her young team, and they respond well, but with obscure clues and Freudian implications, there is little evidence to point to a specific killer. Each staged murder displays another "taboo".
Detectives Delaney and the skeptical Kennedy are under extreme pressure to get this investigation resolved and when Reilly is pulled off the case because of their best lead, things get dangerous.
Let me tell you this, I think the trap to label this a thriller because of the subject matter is a misnomer and does the story a disservice. If you read the reviews on Amazon, you will find polar opposite opinions of this novel. Those expecting the typical thriller griped about its slow pacing. I wouldn't classify it as a thriller but as suspense or even as a mystery. Others who didn't like the book said it was filled with clichés and a convenient ending.
Because it was like reading an episode of the TV series Bones, I enjoyed the way the storyline developed. Yes, their were a couple of deus ex machina moments and a bit of suspension of belief, but overall the story worked with interesting elements added and not all tied up neatly at the end. Reilly is a vulnerable character all dressed up as a top forensic investigator who radiates a confident demeanor under fire. Until things just get too hard.
Very little profanity, a tiny smattering of prayer, and for all the perverse natures of the murders, this was not your typical offensive secular novel. I enjoyed it. With the unique (to us Americans) locale, it had a different feel to it. There were several missing words in the formatting, but most readers have come to expect glitches in ebooks. I'll be reading the second in the series Torn.
Father, thank you for Kevin and Melissa and the skills you've given them. Please continue to guide them in their writing and supply the stories you have just for them to tell. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
You know it's gotta be good if there's a cowboy on the cover, right? Think small town Texas with a big time hero, a cutting horse trainer and champion just like his grandfather (Pops) and the exact opposite of his deceased father who left this earth with the Four of Hearts Ranch heavily in debt from his extreme gambling. Think two hurting protagonists with secrets breaking their hearts and chemistry the size of a 4th of July fireworks display and there you have Betting on Hope by Debra Clopton. Yes, think "sweet little romance" - you know the kind I rarely read. Well, I'm not sorry I read this one.
I needed a break, a fun read, and I took a chance on this one. Experiencing some laugh out loud moments mixed with the occasional almost tearful scenes carried the story well. With funny expressions peculiar to the twang-y south, two frustrating protagonists, some ridiculous but endearing town folk, and tender incidents sprinkled throughout the story, all give Betting on Hope a real personality and small town feel.
Debra Clopton made her hero a stud with just the right amount of tenderness and stubbornness. You don't get to be a real horseman and a champion by being a pushover. Her heroine Maggie Hope is a newspaper columnist who answers letters to hurting readers and offers them hope in their difficult situations. Her best friend Amanda, the well known figure with her own morning television show, who got Maggie her job with the paper, is sick and unable to do the interview with heartthrob champion Tru Monahan in his hometown of Wishing Springs, Texas, a couple hours away from Maggie's home and job in Houston. Amanda insists Maggie do the interview over Maggie's protests, her stage fright real. Maggie's a beautiful klutz who stumbles, literally, through an interview with the handsome cowboy and inadvertently bets him on camera he couldn't do what he said he could.
The entire interview sparked national attention as it appeared on Amanda's morning television show. Now the bet is on and neither Maggie nor Tru is happy about it. Maggie moves in at the Four of Hearts Ranch, meets the Monahan brothers and their beloved Pops who's in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. She's required to keep her column and a log of her experiences as this bet is given a two month deadline.
Maggie and Tru have hidden pain of different kinds, things that propel them toward and away from the deep attraction they feel for one another. Their frustrations are muted until one or the other sparks and blows or in Maggie's case falls right into the cowboy's arms. It's a day to day struggle which they promise themselves to ignore but never can. Their denials cause them to do and say foolish things because of hurt and things they can't bring themselves to reveal to each other or anyone else.
Recognizing the genre within the genre here, this little romance pops with small town charm and the simmering UST between the hero and heroine. Faith plays in the background. Done very well by Debra Clopton, Betting on Hope is exactly what it's supposed to be and expecting it to be something else will only ruin the experience. It's a good story, and I enjoyed it.
Father, you've given Debra many stories to tell. I pray you will continue to supply her with even more. Please direct her steps and add whatever she needs to do as you ask. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.