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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"By Sword, By Right" -my forthcoming project!

After my recent post I received 100% positive feedback on my idea to create an anthology of my short fiction (both published and not).

The idea has bounced around in my head ever since I printed out my short stories and placed them in a binder for my personal reference and enjoyment about three years ago. The idea since received needed incentive when a couple people asked me about my short stories. I mentioned my idea to publish an anthology and they immediately said they'd definitely buy it. After I posted about it on my blog I received an email from a woman in Virginia saying she'd like to get it for her grandsons.

Since most large publishing companies don't touch anthologies, and because I want this done in a timely fashion, I will publish this through Flaming Pen Press. My target release is Christmas 2010 and that shouldn't be too difficult to achieve (especially considering that most of the stories are already edited and publishable). However, I am going to throw in some unpublished pieces that I want to share . . . and I am working on ideas for a couple additional pieces to top of the pie!

Here is the initial cover design. The title I've come up with is By Sword, By Right which I believe bags the variety of stories contained therein (fantasy, science fiction, allegorical, biblical, inspirational). I'd love to hear everyone's impressions!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What to do, what to do . . .

What to be or not to be? I keep finding myself working on projects other than my novel series. Not that I've been working more on the odds and ends writings, but I have been pouring a lot of mental energy into them.

Today after church a couple of people expressed interest in seeing a collection of my short stories published in book-form. The idea has crossed my mind many times but for some reason I've never seen it through. Perhaps it is because I feel my short stories are so varied that they don't fit a common theme and I'd like to have that in an anthology. However, I'm seriously considering doing it anyway. The short stories range in genre from fairy tales, fantasy, science fiction, biblical, and allegory. I have several unpublished works that I never showed my fans, including pieces written a long time ago . . . like five years ago. In one tale there is a good dragon by the name of Valorian, which, I'm sure, many of my fans immediately recognize as the villainous creature in Swords of the Six. I like the name so much that I used it in my novel.

So, the question lies out there for my readers to consider: would you like to see an anthology of my short stories? It would include Moses and the Lamb, Splintered Sacrifice, The Woodland King, The Little Children Come, and the Trapped in Imagination stories 1 and 2.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Author Interview: Donita K. Paul & Evangeline Denmark

I recently came across an children's fantasy book by Donita K. Paul and her daughter Evangeline Denmark. Both of them agreed to be interviewed on my blog. This adorable book is illustrated by one of the illustrators that worked on the Ice Age movies. Make sure to explore The Dragon and the Turtle website after reading this interview! It is one of the best designed, most attractive I've ever seen.
Hi Mrs. Paul and Mrs. Denmark,
Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. You have recently co-authored a children's book titled The Dragon and the Turtle. What is the story and how did you come up with the idea?

Answer: The Dragon and the Turtle is about a lost turtle and the dragon who helps him find his way home. Along the way, Roger the turtle and Padraig the dragon learn that making friends with someone different from you can yield unexpected rewards.
The idea came from a bedtime story I told my boys one night when they couldn’t go to sleep.

Mrs. Paul, You are well-known as the author of the Dragon Keeper Chronicles, which seemed to target young adult readers. How did you decide to make this transition into writing for children, and how difficult was it to alter the grade level of your prose for a younger audience?

Answer: I have always wanted to be a picture book author. I love picture books. My collection of picture books fills three seven foot bookcases. As to changing grade level, younger children are actually my forte. I majored in elem. ed. with an early childhood development emphasis. My son and daughter have told me (kindly) that preschool is my peer group. And I believe good readers are hatched in families that read aloud. Picture books are what we read aloud and therefore promote literacy.

Mrs. Denmark, I understand that you are Mrs. Paul's daughter. Please tell us what it was like to create The Dragon and Turtle as a joint effort.What were the greatest advantages to doing this together?

Answer: We had a lot of fun working on The Dragon and the Turtle together. Roger the lost turtle sprang out of my brain, and Mom added his helpful friend Padraig the dragon. The two characters took off from there—just like two little boys ready for adventure.
As far as advantages, well, aside from getting to work on a fun project with my mother, I also reaped the benefits of her expertise in the writing field, and education and child development. I can’t think of anyone better suited to write a children’s book, can you?

No, I can't! It's wonderful.

Mrs. Paul and Mrs. Denmark, There are many fantasy books on the market but not so many, that I know of, specifically for children. Did you find any hurdles in getting a publisher interested in this project?

Mrs. Paul’s answer: actually most picture books are fantasy. Look at Skippy Jon Jones, Dr. Seuss books, the Gingerbread Man. When we speak of fantasy for those over 8, we enter another genre, and that type of fantasy is less prolific in children’s literature. This would be knights, dragons, wizards (although there are plenty of witches), and magic as seen in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Then you narrow the spectrum by going into Christian Fantasy Books and it is hard to find anything available. There are some heavy-handed allegories, supposedly for children. Our easy-in to the publishing of a fantasy book was the fact that I had parents, teachers, older siblings asking for a picture book about dragons for their little ones.

Mrs. Denmark, In your biography you mention sharing Roger and Padraig stories with your sons. Do you get inspiration from sharing stories with them, and how did they react when they heard your book was getting published? (-:

Answer: Absolutely, I get inspiration from them. Without my boys, Roger and Padraig wouldn’t exist. But it’s not just the fun, little boy outlook and play habits that inspire me. Their needs inspire me as well. They both need to learn how to be a good friend, and Roger and Padraig stories are a more fun way to do that than a lecture.
As for getting excited about the book being published, they thought it was cool but really didn’t grasp it until they saw Vincent’s initial sketches. That’s when they started to understand that Roger and Padraig were going to be more than just our bedtime stories. We did all squeal in the foyer the day the UPS guy delivered our first copies of the book.

Mrs. Paul, How does this project compare to your previous works? It has been my observation that younger children tend to greet new stories with greater energy and enthusiasm. Is this project equally rewarding, or more so?

Answer: You should see some of the teenagers jump and gyrate and exhibit extreme enthusiasm for another dragon book. Little people do this too, but over and over. The books are differently rewarding. I love the shine in young children’s eyes when they settle down for story time. I love the way teens and older kids can articulate what has touched them. For both, I relish the opportunity to open their hearts to Godly principles.

Mrs. Denmark, I'm sure many people are wondering: Are you going to follow in your mother's footsteps? Do you plan on writing many more books, do you have ideas that may turn into young adult fantasy novels?
Answer: Yes, I do hope to follow in Mom’s footsteps. I have several adult novels completed and an idea for a YA series. I love writing. It’s in the genes.

Mrs. Paul kibitzing: It truly is in the genes. Evangeline is the third generation writer. Her son already shows a tendency to story-making as well.

Mrs. Paul and Mrs. Denmark, Thank you for participating in this interview. I believe this project has great potential for success in the market, not only today but as a generational classic. In closing, where can readers learn more about The Dragon and the Turtle?
Answer: We’ve just launched a website for Roger and Padraig. We’re so excited about interacting with our readers there. We have games, crafts, recipes, and a “fridge” space to display our readers’ artwork.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Finally I found a site to create an attractive website for my author pages. Check it out: The Sword of the Dragon

Friday, August 6, 2010

Secular or Christian Fantasy (part 2) Author Worldview in Fantasy Novels

In a previous post I talked a bit about The Lord of the Rings and what a slew of responses I received! It was invigorating. However, upon listening to the many comments, I realized that I need to break ground at a new point if the discussion is to have any logical continuity.

Each and every one of us comes from a unique background. Whether we admit it or not the way our parents were raised, the way they raised us, and the people we grew up with made us the individuals we are today.

My father was raised in a large Catholic family but became a born-again Christian when he was in his late teens. My mother was raised in a Protestant home with, again, a large family. Not wishing to let the public school system raise their kids, my parents homeschooled me. My father worked long, hard hours to provide for his family, and my mother served as homemaker and teacher. I grew up in the kind of family many kids only dream of. My father was the most patient, kind man I know. My mother was gentle and a patient teacher, but also a consistent disciplinarian. If I were to summarize my growing-up years, I’d say I was raised in a very loving, disciplined home.

Watching my parents I strove to attain their dedication to family and God. They were the finest examples and I attribute my success as an author mostly to them. My father was such an incredibly hard worker that I always felt I could never keep up with him. I wasn’t as physically motivated as he was so I turned my energies into academic pursuits. And when I decided to write for a living, it didn’t enter my mind that I would never finish the project or fail—because by example I had learned that perseverance led to success and that the road is not easy, but it is worth it.

There have been a lot of blog posts, recently, written by publishing professionals warning authors not to set their hopes too high on success. They say that success does not always come, that only a few writers make it into the elite number of full-time career authors, and so it is better to think “realistically” . . . then they proceed to detail all the intricacies of the market, how it’s changing, and remind everyone that there are few very successful authors.

This troubles me to no end. Why? Because I was raised in a home that trained me to believe in my dreams, to KNOW that I could succeed at anything I set my mind to, and these professionals would rather focus on the business end, rather than the passion behind the art.

When in 2008 my novel was rejected by the publisher, rather than letting it bring me down (though I admitted a level of disappointment) I worked hard, studying the intricacies of creating my own publishing company. My goal was to sell a thousand copies of my books, by hand if necessary, getting it out there into the public until at some point a major publisher offered me a contract. And that is exactly what I did. But was it chance that led to my success? Was it that the right wind just happened to catch my sails and push me in the right direction? No, it was perseverance and patience. Consistency was key, consistency in my childhood trained me to achieve and never accept failure.

One of my favorite movies is Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and my favorite line is when Captain Kirk says, “I don’t believe in no-win scenarios.”

Well, neither do I. And whenever an aspiring author asks me what they need to do to get published and make their book a success, I tell them it is a lot of hard work but that if they persevere they can succeed (and they mustn’t seek shortcuts).

I say all this to point out that I believe every author has a message in his/or her stories, whether apparent or not, their world-view plays an inevitable role in their writing. Tolkien came from a Roman Catholic background and so his Lord of the Rings and other such works do have an all-powerful god, of sorts. But the Roman Catholic church is strong on form; their worship is full of rites and rituals to which they strongly adhere. So, in The Lord of the Rings, wizards such as Gandalf utter spells that are keyed to certain form, certain ordering.

Donita K. Paul in her Dragon Keeper Chronicles has wizards. But her background is, I believe, Protestant Christianity. Her characters don’t, to my recollection, utter spells. Instead they have abilities to interact with their environment within the confines of Wulder’s will.

J.K. Rowling is, by all accounts I’ve read and from every interview I’ve seen, a secular Humanist. In keeping with her world-view, Harry Potter knows no God, and determines right from wrong based on how the situation affects him and those he loves. He uses the same magic as the dark wizards, just for a better cause.

Bryan Davis author of Dragons in Our Midst also falls under Protestant Christianity (though he would be careful to distinguish his beliefs from the majority). But his protagonists gain special abilities through their dragon ancestry, though at times Merlin seems to wield almost magical powers.

Phillip Pullman is an interesting one. He is an atheist and he once stated in an interview I read that he was using his book The Golden Compass to ‘…kill God in the eyes of children.’

In my own novels I am seeking to be as faithful as possible to my world view. My protagonists have difficult sacrifices to make to reach their goals, and all powers are either from Creator God, or demonic worship.

I have seen many Christian fantasy writers whose work makes me cringe; not because of the writing, but because of their use of magic in the story. I’m sure that the Egyptians looked upon Moses as a magician for all the signs he wrought, but he always attributed credit to God. I find very few fantasy novels have an accurate, pure worldview. And for those of you who think otherwise, yes, I think Tolkien’s work falls into that category. Don’t be offended: he wrote it, you didn’t. I can still enjoy these other works, but I must evaluate them based on a consistent, God-honoring worldview.


"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." -Proverbs 16:24

In a world where morality is forsaken and Christ neglected, wholesome books are uncommon. The themes of my writing are love, self-sacrifice, and honor.

I see my generation turning from God to the gods of this world. I see homes torn apart in the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification. Children are murdered by the millions every year . . . without ever seeing the world outside their mothers' wombs. Through fiction I strive to encourage those who are willing, to stand against these things and be heroes and heroines; chivalrous, gentle, full of righteous indignation, and the fear and love of their Creator.