Book Giveaway: Open Drawing for Fantasy Novels

Congratulations! This is your opportunity to win a copy of one of Lars Walker’s three published novels, signed, sealed, and delivered by one of the many Norse gods hard-up for work in modern America. If we can’t contract a god to deliver in your area, we will use the good old-fashioned postal service. Of course, if parcel post was good enough for Leifr Eiricsson when we was on the continent, it’s good enough for us too.

Here are the simple rules to win one of three signed copies of one of Lars’ books. Leave a comment in this thread with your name and email before Saturday, August 26, 11:00 a.m. One comment per participant, please. After the deadline, I’ll number the comments, spin the roulette wheel, and the contact three winners. When I send you an email, I’ll ask for your mailing address.

Tell your friends and send them this way for the chance to win a great fantasy/sci-fi read. If you are new to Brandywine Books, note the links to Lars’ books at the top of our bloogroll on the right.

This is the first of at least two contests at Brandywine Books, and this is the easiest of them. The next contest will require some writing. For now, just comment with your name and email. Thank you for participating, and keep telling your friends about Brandywine Books.

The Will to Power

Here’s another sentence from a published book: “By sheer force of will, she typed in the access code and held her breath.”

I think understand this emotion, but is this a good way to describe it? I remember in other stories that characters willed themselves to continue. They . . . had . . to hang . . . on . . . (gasp)! How do you think pushing against emotions should be described?

Several things, all of them bad

I don’t mean to rag on the Presbyterians as a group. I worshiped at a PCA church for some time in Florida, and it was one of the finest churches I’ve ever been associated with. But this story about the PCUSA (via Town Hall Blog) takes my breath away. It’s not enough for these people to apostasize. That’s appalling, but it’s sort of old news. We’ve come to expect it from them. But the PCUSA has published a book promoting the view that the Bush administration engineered the 9/11 attacks, a position generally held by people who’ve forgotten to take their medication because it fell through a hole in their raincoat pockets while they were fishing for lunch in a dumpster. From a materialist point of view, heresy is sort of understandable, because true doctrine can’t be scientifically proven. But these people have lost touch even with this-worldly reality.

Not that I don’t believe in conspiracies. I’m growing more and more convinced that the people who run road construction in the Twin Cities conspire to make their construction projects as inconvenient to the public as possible. Not for money. Not because of political corruption. But just because it’s so much fun to sit down around a map with their coffee and bagels and draw a red circle around a neighborhood, then pose the question, “How can we completely cut this neighborhood off from the outside world, blocking not only the primary but the secondary routes into it?”

Such is the fate of my pleasant little part of Robbinsdale. I dwell in a sort of a bottleneck—not the useful kind that could easily be defended if the Assyrians attacked (a possibility that grows more and more likely with the passing years), but a traffic bottleneck. I live to the east of a park. Not far north of the park is a freeway. Not far to the south is a lake. My workplace is to the west. The practical jokers tore up the main artery yesterday, while I was at work. I made the mistake of following their “Detour” signs on the way home, and ended up lost in Brooklyn Park. I’ve found a way to get home from work (and vice versa) now, but it involves passing through a construction zone.

Commenter Aitchmark sent me the following entertaining review. At his request, because he is a tenderhearted man, I have excised the name of the author and the title of the book:

I kind of enjoyed ___________’s recreation of classic kid SF in _____________, so I went into the online system for the library and put a hold on the sequel____________.

Well, there’s another book with the title ___________, and in some kind of mental glitch, I clicked the right title but the wrong author. So I ended up with a cop thriller called ___________ by a fellow named _____________.

One of the worst pieces of writing I’ve ever read. Unimaginably bad. Bad grammar, bad diction, one gaping howler of disregard for reality after another, plot transparently ripped off from another book….

Example — a burglar gets killed by a booby trapped clock that fires a 2-inch dart at him…. which injects 6 ounces of snake venom.

Must have been from a neutronium snake.

And the writing….

“The darkness enveloped him with the suddenness of an unexpected physical attack.”

“An investigation that had nearly gotten him killed but had brought him and Detective Edna Gray very close together.” (yes, that’s the complete sentence)

I can’t go on. It’s just too much.

This is the guy’s 5th published book!

I’ve read 37 pages (Carmen challenged me to read 50). I can’t decide whether to just take it back to the library, or keep slogging through it to see how bad it can get.

Be careful if you see this book. It may rub off on you. Like a virus. A big, nasty virus that hurts people and sometimes even kills them. Dead. And dead is forever. So you have been warned. In case it infects your brain and makes you less intelligent than you were before reading the terrible book, you won’t be able to say you weren’t warned emphatically by me. Who warned you to be careful and think before picking up this terrible tome.

(help me. please… help me. Send Shakespeare or something. Fast.)

You Know You Are Not Reformed If . . .

  • you think the Apostles Creed is the guy who fought Rocky in Rocky I.
  • you think the Canons of Dort are like the Guns of Navarrone.
  • you think the psalter goes with the pepper shaker.
  • you think unconditional election is a practice of communist dictatorships.

And so on. Riddleblog has “You Know You Are Not Reformed If . . .

Yeah, I didn’t think it was that funny either, but I hope someone gets a laugh out of it. (by way of the Jollyblogger)

The saga of sailor and the shoes

Yesterday I wrote about instructors who will always get their book orders in just after I’ve been on the phone with the publishers.

That puts me in mind of one of my favorite stories. I shall share it now, even though I know most of you have probably heard it before.

Because in cyberspace, no one can hear you scream.

The date was December 6, 1941. A young man took his shoes in to a shop to be re-soled.

The next day, of course, he forgot all about the shoes, because of the news of Pearl Harbor. He did his patriotic duty by enlisting in the Navy immediately.

He saw considerable action in the Pacific. One day late in the war his ship was torpedoed, and went down with great loss of life. Our hero managed to clamber into a lifeboat alone. He floated for days, finally washing up on the shores of a remote island, far from the shipping lanes.

For 25 years he remained on that island. He was listed as Missing In Action.

Finally a passing freighter saw his smoke signal and he was rescued. Back at home he was hailed as a hero.

His delighted parents showed him his old room, which they’d preserved precisely as it had been the day he left home.

After his parents had gone to bed, the young man looked through his well-remembered possessions. He tried on an old suit, put his hand in the pocket, and discovered the shoe repair claim ticket.

“Could the shoes still be there?” he wondered. “Only one way to find out.”

The next day he took a bus to the shoe repair shop. He found it still in business, and inside, older and grayer, he found the same shoe repairman.

“Are these shoes ready?” he asked with a smile, handing the old man the ticket.

The old man looked at the ticket, then went into the back room. A moment later he popped his head out.

“Have ’em for you Thursday,” he said.

Greg Iles Complains about Writing Too Fast

Here’s an old post from Sarah Weinman about statements by Thriller Author Greg Iles on writing a book in a year’s time. He said, “So many thrillers today are formulaic and one-dimensional. I feel like there used to be a higher standard. . . . if I’m completely honest, three of my first four books are the best I ever wrote because I spent two years apiece on them.”

As a bit of balance, here’s a writing technique article by Sci-fi Author William Dietz, called “How To Write A Book A Year While Holding Down A Full-time Job, Maintaining Key Relationships, Staying In Shape, And Maintaining Your Sanity.

ADHD Wins Agains, Family Goats Rejoice

At first, the Cincinnati-area family said the goat in the yard of their suburban home was for a 4-H project and would be sent away after the county fair. Now the Valentines have two goats, and they won a lawsuit, filed by community trustees, to keep the animals because they help their 13-year-old son cope with his ADHD. According the family, their dogs, rabbits, cat, and guinea pig do not help their son handle himself, but the goats do. The family is in the clear as long as they deliver a doctor’s testimony to the town every year to validate their claim.

In case you wonder, let me say that I do not believe that ADD and ADHD are medical fantasies, and some children are properly diagnosed with it and I hope properly treated. Thank you for your attention.

Mission accomplished, sort of

Via Michelle Malkin: This historical evidence of Zionist perfidy.

I had a busy day today. I got in all my book orders for the fall, which means of course that a couple hours later, one last instructor came in with his list, which I’ll have to call in tomorrow. No big deal. But I know that if I’d made the order Monday, he’d have brought it in on Monday afternoon.

Now I’m going to reward myself by taking a vacation week starting Monday (pending my boss’s approval). I propose to go nowhere on this vacation. I’ll stay home, vegetate, and (hopefully) work on my book. Travel is nice, but staying home and doing whatever I like is the real luxury.

I’ll keep blogging, though.

When I feel like it.

In Fact, My Son Is Named Satan

“Satan in the New Testament should be regarded as holding the equivalent of such positions as Prime Minister, or Attorney-General, or Head of MI5, or Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and as no more evil than many zealous holders of these positions here on Earth,” says a Californian who wants to rehabilitate the devil’s public face. He’s written a book about that star who fell from heaven. The Times of London headline for the story: “Forget Judas, let’s have sympathy for the Devil.

I should ignore this kind of foolishness, but it’s just so . . . foolish.

The Typographical Error

I’ve been researching the history of my organization, CBMC (I’m a designer at the national service center). We put out a magazine for decades called CBMC Contact, and I found this poem on the back cover of a 1952 issue. It’s cute, and cute things should be blogged (within certain strict guidelines).

The Typographical Error

The typographical error is a slippery thing and sly;

You can hunt til you are dizzy, but it somehow will get by.

Til the forms are off the presses, it is strange how still it keeps;

It shrinks down in a corner and it never stirs or peeps.

That typographical error, too small for human eyes,

Til the ink is on the paper, when it grows to mountain size.

The boss, he stares with horror, then he grabs his hair and groans;

The copyreader drop his head upon his hands and moans–

The remainder of the issue may be clean as clean can be,

But the typographical error is the only thing you see.

W.C. Winslow

Collected Comments

Orange Jack on Don Quixote: “The ironic thing to me is that this book is about 1000 pages, and on the first page the author tells me the main character goes mad because he read too much!”

Laura Demanski on a book she’s read several times: “A friend recently told me that he’s reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time, and I realized that this is a condition I aspire to. In other words, I wanted for a second to claw his eyes out, but the second passed and I masked my jealous rage nicely, I thought. It used to be every Christmastime that I read P&P. Now my readings are further spaced out, every three or four years instead of every single one as I try (without hope) to regain a state of innocence vis-à-vis this particular book.”

Kevin Holtsberry quotes Athol Dickson on writing too fast: “I recently got into hot water with some writer friends by crying out for a slower, more thoughtful pace. Although I hate it when people are unhappy with me, I’m not backing down. Many popular Christian authors are in the habit of putting out three, four or even five or more novels every year. Such haste strikes me as a risky proposition.” I remember Mr. Dickson saying the same thing in his Novel Journey interview.

The Big Law by Chuck Logan

Chuck Logan was recommended to me as a good thriller writer who, like John Sandford, lives in and writes about Minnesota.

I can’t say that I won’t read any more of his books. But I’m afraid I liked this one a lot less than I hoped to.

I would have preferred to start with the first book in the Phil Broker series, Absolute Zero, but my bookstore didn’t have a copy. So I went with Number Two, The Big Law.

I’ve written before about male fantasy figures as series heroes. I think Phil Broker (mostly) fits into this category. He’s rich as a result of finding a huge treasure of gold in a foreign land. He lives in his own big, rustic house on the shore of Lake Superior, having retired young from police work. Over his fireplace he has hung a Viking dragon’s head ship’s prow (that wins him points with me).

On the other hand, most male fantasies don’t include raising a baby singlehanded.

Phil has a wife, a female soldier (and hero). She has returned to active service and is currently serving in Bosnia (the book was published in 1998) when Broker gets involved in a case involving his ex-wife, Caren Angland.

Caren calls him unexpectedly, asking to come and see him. She’s frightened. She’s married now to Keith Angland, another cop and Phil’s former friend. She has proof that Keith is crooked. That he has taken money from the Russian mafia and murdered an informant.

As she flees her husband, Caren picks up a newspaper reporter, Tom James, who is supposed to document the story. But Keith follows and gets to Phil’s house ahead of her. In the violence that follows, Caren falls into a waterfall to her death, Tom James gets shot, and Keith is arrested for Caren’s murder.

But if that’s the end of the story, why do both Phil and his soldier wife get threatening letters shortly afterward?

And what happened to the money Keith got from the mob?

Chuck Logan is a good writer. The story builds tension nicely. The writing is fresh and sharp. Logan chooses his words carefully, and places them for maximum effect.

And yet… I had trouble caring much.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I couldn’t identify with Phil Broker. I can’t point to a single defect in Logan’s depiction of his character.

But I felt like I couldn’t get near the man. He never came alive for me. Even though he displays great passion in his concern to protect his baby daughter, he never gets my full sympathy.

I’m a writer. I’m supposed to be able to analyze these things. But I can’t identify what’s wrong here.

I’ll probably have to read another in the series to see if the problem is Logan’s or mine.

Chesterton’s blog

Well, blimey, Bert! Look what I’ve copped. The blog of the American Chesterton Society (ACS). They have a rare, autographed book of Chesterton poems for sale with a charity angle on it, and they point to a review of an interesting book I hadn’t seen before, The Flying Inn. The reviewer writes that the book “was condemned to many years of neglect, presumably because of what was then seen as the quaintness and irrelevance of its subject matter — an Islamic attack on and infiltration of England.” The ACS says, “This is a hilarious satirical romp in which Chesterton inveighs against the forces of dreary and oppressive modernity, in the form of Prohibition, vegetarianism, theosophy, and other movements.”

Book Reviews, Creative Culture