Friday, April 14, 2017

Driving, Writing, and Living On the Wrong Road

"...a 1000 roads lead into the wilderness." CS Lewis
"Drive left. Look right! God, help me to do this right--I mean, correct!" So I tell myself and pray in the days and hours before leading another group of aspiring writers on the Oxford Creative Writing Master Class. At Heathrow, I warily circle the nine-passenger rental van and then lunge into the driver's seat on the right side, murmuring to myself to keep the vehicle on the left side of the road and a weather eye to the Bentleys, Minis, red buses, and black cabbies bearing down on my right side. Though it is not my first rodeo (not to be construed as a cliche; it is a metaphor chosen precisely to reflect how it feels swerving around about every frantically encircling roundabout intersection), I have driven in the UK on the wrong side of the vehicle--and the road--over many years now. But I still pray earnestly before loading the van with precious human cargo and braving the blaring streets, curvaceous back roads, and bustling motorways of Britain.

And then there's the matter of my talking--while driving (whilst motoring, to be more colloquial). One previous OCWMC participant, her hand trembling, passed me an almost illegible note on which she had scrawled out a plea for me to stop using hand gestures as I talk--and drive. "Please, please, keep both hands on the wheel," she implored me (I nodded, looking down at the clutch and gear shifter, wondering just how I was supposed to do that when every vehicle in the UK seems to be equipped with a manual transmission). As I teach my master class writers the evil of exaggerating language, I will avoid pronouncing it "miraculous," but it is a significant answer to prayer, with many instances of divine intervention, that I have never had an accident whilst motoring in Britain (okay, a few close calls; every one of them, I am morally certain, not my fault, like the one en route from London to Oxford opening day of the master class when a raven-colored Peugeot nearly strafed the side of us on the M-40, clearing my arteries, invigorating my vocabulary, and making me still more grateful).

In Oxford, or anytime I talk about writing, I emphasize the importance of figurative language, of metaphor. "The greatest thing by far," wrote Aristotle in his Poetics (384 BC - 322 BC), "is to have a command of metaphor. This alone cannot be imparted by another; it is the mark of genius, for to make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblances." And for the rest of us who are emphatically not geniuses, we work at training our eye and ear so we are equipped to use the most appropriate metaphors, the precise imaginative comparisons, the best mini stories to awaken the imagination and immerse our readers in the larger story.

Which makes me pause and consider driving on the wrong side of the car and the road as a metaphor, a miniature story very much like life itself. The author of the book of Proverbs employed a similar metaphor: "Turn not to the right hand or to the left. Keep your foot from evil." When driving a car, if I turn right when I should have turned left, or if I don't keep my eyes on the road ahead of me, screeching tires, broken glass, mangled metal, and far worse can follow.

Similarly, when writing a book, if I take my eyes off the real issue for my protagonist, or when I lose control of the story arc and the plot wanders aimlessly like an overfed bovine, sniffing at this or that irrelevant morsel, my reader gets distracted, yawns, closes the book, and (after awakening from his stupor), pounds out a scathing review on amazon.

How much worse when this happens in life. When I wander to the right and then to the left, grazing for fulfillment and happiness in this tidbit and that morsel of this life, I will always come up empty, unsatisfied, idolatrous, lost. And damned. The stakes are high. Those who persist with this try-this, try-that, foraging approach to life will end this life and enter the life to come with the most horrific words ringing in their eternal ears, "Depart from me you cursed into everlasting fire where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth." When we do this in life, the result is infinitely worse than a car smash-up or a bad review on amazon.

Though our culture persists in shrieking the mantra, "There are many roads," or in effect, "Take whatever road feels good. There is no wrong side of the road." Imagine driving or writing that way. Made in the image of God, we all know at the deepest level of our being that there is only one road that leads to heaven. "One road leads home and a thousand roads lead into the wilderness," as CS Lewis put it. Left or right, O the pain of those thousand roads. No one gets to heaven by scrupulously following the right path, the path of self-improvement and good works; or from swerving left, following his heart and doing what he feels.

If not to the right or the left, where are we to keep our eyes? If there's only one way, The Way, how are we to get on--and keep on--the road? There's no equivocation. Nor is there any alternate route. The Word of God makes the path of life plain. Abandon all hope in ourselves and "Gaze upon the beauty of the Lord." It is what we were made for, not just on Good Friday or Easter, We are designed to keep our eyes straight ahead, to "Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith." We do this because by his finished work on the cross in place of sinners and his righteousness imputed to those same sinners' specific account, Christ is alone the path to life; in his presence there is fullness of joy; at his right hand their are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16).

God alone places us by his grace on the right road--and he alone keeps us on it. All other roads lead into the wilderness.     

Douglas Bond directs the Oxford Creative Writing Master Class. Contact him about the next OCWMC at bondbooks.net@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Gloom to Radiance: reflections from Oxford



Addison's Walk, Oxford

Two days home from leading the latest Oxford Creative Writing Master Class, and, now that the phantasms of jet lag have faded, I'm eager to share a highlight from one of our OCWMC participants.

Mary Lynn Spear is no literary neophyte. Bringing a depth of artistic experience to the master class, and an imagination well-seasoned to wonder, Mary Lynn wrote an enchanting piece that exposes a breathless insider's vantage point on the array of literary stimulation lying around every country footpath and cobbled street corner.  
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I went for a walk in the Cotswolds today.  Not so very far from where Churchill was born, and CS Lewis walked. It’s no wonder this place breeds inspired men.  A hundred birds sounded, and I saw a pheasant skitter out across the path. Wood pigeons cooed incessantly in the trees before bolting up into the sky feather-powered, adding drumbeat to endless birdsong.

But it was the sun—the sun breaking over plowed fields and green paths through the hedgerows glistening with morning dew. The sun, illuminating a honey stone cottage in the distance, bordered by undulating ribbons of green and broken brown. The sun, glowing through white blossoms on branches stretched in morning praise, white scattered on the grasses beneath--so many fallen stars soon to go the way of all un-branched things.  …the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine. The sun, laying softly on moss mounds trailing off into the underbrush.

They are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning.  In the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withersSatisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may be glad and rejoice all our days.

I stopped and read Psalm 90. Yesterday we sat in Baliol College’s hall, where farmer-boy John Wycliffe, economist Adam Smith, and atheist Richard Dawkins studied and thought the great thoughts which would move men and nations. How Moses’ words turn in to the core of humanity, like an x-ray machine opening up the secrets of the inmost being and revealing the spiritual skeleton which forms man. How they open up my ways, night-vision seeing into the gloom of wandering days and sight struggling with unbelief.  Always, always, God is good. It is easier to take heart, in a woodland forest kissed by the morning.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Return, Oh Lord, how long? Have pity on your servants!

Massive beams soared over the expanse of Baliol’s ceiling, keeping mysteries they had looked down upon for centuries. But grounding them to earth still stood the stone walls, stained with drips downward like so many spoiled thoughts and dreams birthed in this ancient room. Carvings of design and beauty traced across wooden walls. Yet the dust on them spoke of days passing into night. You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!”

Faces of men looked on from vast, gilded paintings: men who posed to be remembered by posterity, but who knows now, who they were? You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass…

Under their noble white collars so dated, billowing sleeves and august look, what secrets lived? You have set our iniquities before you. Our secret sins in the light of your presence.

Some of these walls have stood a thousand years, yet more. For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. You sweep them away as with a flood, they are like a dream, like grass.

Yet-to-be-famous faces filled this hall, saw while not seeing these familiar walls; left their scuff on floors and bowed the benches deeper, who became fine artists of philosophies destined to raise up, and to ruin. For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. You have set our iniquities before you…
\
I am here in Oxford for a writer’s conference.  I am supposed to write. This desire to  write, it burns in me for giving just a few, effective words for our children’s children, and for those setting the breakfast table every morning for a posterity who will turn their faces upward or inward, outward or into the depths. Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. I do not know if God will give me words. I do not know if He will withhold words and make the pressure of thoughts without words an affliction of its own kind. I do not yet know what will be.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands.

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Next morning I started out under a lowering sky, and the world seemed changed. I’ve thought a time or two about how life under common grace must be like the world at dawn: not black, but grey with enough light to see and do.  Contrast life in Christ, not grey but gold, emblazoned with Light, seeing and doing for eternal days.

The path on which I set one foot after another is the same chipped mulch as any other person on the planet would find it. Birds still sound out in number, but I confess more tentative than yesterday. I almost want to say that the white of the blossoms show more white-ly against the gray sky, perhaps like true goodness and truth against the graying of modernity.

But altogether, the fields don’t gleam gold today, or the sunrays flaunt their abundance over steaming soil of the plowed hills.  Dew doesn’t expend a million diamonds, and the sod beside the path is just damp, a bit cold, last year’s leaves dead-fallen among them.  A closed sky wrapped in clouds stands still and somber over the future of this day, over the distance of the horizon.  No birds startle hastily to wing, though a few brave ones sing. Cooing of a pigeon is answered by another but somehow they sound mournful in the gloom under the trees. I thought I remembered them sounding peaceful. I thought I remembered a little kingdom shining under those trees, amid the moss and bracken, where felled flowers shone. The wild yellow primroses stay closed, their heads bowed.

What marks us called by His Name, compared to those nameless who pass us on the sidewalks of Seattle and London? With what difference do we walk through? In our world, where Christ says to us, “…you are my friends…I have called you friends…” the dark places shine in the light of His Presence and the rough places are made plain. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a Light has shown.  Hidden in Him we see not only night turn to grey but the sun break over the hills and flood gold into secret places. He is the radiance of the glory of God, and the exact imprint of His nature. The Light walks with us and in us.

We met Lili yesterday.  She up and walked into our lives in an Oxford cafe, and spent the day with us.  She didn’t want to hang around if we were some religious sect, she said. But she stayed, and I think she had a memorable day.  We walked the streets of Oxford and she pointed out how rare it was to hear footfall any more—people’s shoes are mostly silent. “Silent feet,” she said, and told me about her poetry and we talked about the mystery of trees. Addison’s Walk we found blooming wildly, that place where CS Lewis spent his last night as an atheist before the Light found him. She stayed, and told me all about her atheist self, how she’d walked into that church at thirteen and looked around, pronounced them all hypocrites in her mind, and walked out the door. How could God possibly be a Person, she wondered? Does that mean He has a male anatomy, she asked, just not in those words exactly; and then laughed and said she’d bet I didn’t expect to be talking about that today. But she looked curiously at me when I said I knew Him, and that I could not be good apart from God.

No light until He fills up with Light.

I think…I think she gave up a sunny day, back at thirteen years, and took up an overcast in its place. She met us at sixty-nine years, hours sans color, and she was captivated by a glimpse into the sunlit places.

With what words does one begin to explain?


Mary Lynn Spear (OCWMC, April, 2017)

For more information about future Oxford Creative Writing Master Class opportunities, email me at bondbooks.net@gmail.com and visit bondvoyage.webs.com

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Can't Find it Grind it--Writing to Love Your Neighbor (Inkblots)

I'm off today to spend the week with 8 writers in Oxford
Six bludgeoned 'Blots this rainy evening (Patrick told us a horrible story, not fiction, about being attacked and beat with a rock. I hope he mines this in his book nearing completion). Alisa shared with us about the final work on Swiftwater, final editorial work and some frustration and final revisions, but light at the end of the tunnel. The buck stops with the author in an author consortium publishing venture, so we want to see this as an opportunity, one that makes the final book all that much better. Heaps of deleting and rewriting going on around here. and brainstorming. And we discussed stream of consciousness writing (Ulysses) and how much Jonathan and Patrick do not like it. Rachel reads:

Rachel's Russian cheese-smuggling yarn, fascinating and deeply hunger-inspiring. Rachel reads her work so well, with such feeling and unique character and voice. Does the simile of the barrel of a rifle following its target work? Not sure, but worth discussing. On further reflection, I think it is a similar problem as active passive voice, where the subject is receiving action instead of doing it. Rifles don't act. Shooters of guns act. Rachel drops the bomb that guys do stupid things for girls all the time. Mark is bitter, but Trusov just wants his cheese. John commented on the rifle simile, that the hunter should be following. Ingrid is a stick-to-the-man type character. Patrick suggested that Ingrid needs to have leverage on Mark and he is motivated by self-interest, but the leverage conveys to the reader that this is authentic.

Jonathan told us about a book called Story Grid, compiled from an editor's blog posts, from a successful editor. Every story has three acts, using the Silence of the Lambs, which morphed into a movie so easily and needed virtually no change from book to screen (not an endorsement). Patrick shared with us about "finishing" the book and some of the revisions he made and why he made them. His rewriting is like a case study on himself, where he was when he wrote the first draft and where he has progressed. The two biggies that Inkblots returns to (I hope more than these, but certainly not less than these), showing and not telling, and remaining in character point of view. If you fail to do the latter the reader is confused, disoriented, halting and uncertain about whose world they are supposed to be in, which character are they supposed to care most about? An important part of loving your neighbor as an author is loving and respecting your reader; jolt them all over the anthropological map and you are not loving your neighbor. We don't want to read like a young man who asked me to teach him how to drive a stick shift. "Can't find it, grind it" only works on somebody else's clutch; mine was burned up. We do this to readers when we don't write with point-of-view integrity.

It is possible to shift points of view, but it must be done with care and conventionality. All that to say, Patrick discovered that he did not have a clear perspective soon enough for the reader to get immersed in the yarn. Lewis does the shift from Peter back to Lucy, to Susan and Edmond, but even at that there is a dominant character and every reader knows it, Lucy. Tolkien-era Arthur Ransom does it with the siblings in Swallows & Amazons. But beware. The cliff looms precipitously when you do.


Patrick reads from the revised Adam & Steve yarn, a parody on same-sex marriage, in which he creates a sense of the actuality of having the technology to impregnate one of the two males, using elaborate and costly medical research, heavily funded by federal dollars, no doubt, forcibly extracted from gullible brow-beaten taxpayers. I wonder if Patrick gives too much away with the superlatives he uses to describe the monstrous process to pull off this Frankensteinian genetic fiasco. Patrick clearly has had a ball writing this bazaar reality scenario. Be sure to play up the bold social experiment and let the reader feel sick. Humor is a two-edged sword, and if you're not careful you will expose your hand too soon in the story, and the ones you want to prod may see through the ruse and bolt deeper into the wastelands if you are not careful.

John reads some of his rewrite after last Thursday's major revision and critique work with Editorial Director Mary Lynn Spear in the Scriptorium last week. John launched right into the major rewrite. Avoid writing "obviously in thought"; instead show the posture of obvious thought, in facial expressions. This is a weighty discussion between a daughter who is pregnant and has considered taking her own life. It feels a bit over written, too much actually said that would be better conveyed in some thoughts, some inferences, conclusions drawn from the uncomfortable mannerism of the mother or the daughter. Can you show development to the relationship between the mother and daughter, beginning with awkwardness and gradually, with fits and starts, becoming more congenial. I feel like it is too congenial and over stated at least in places. I'll just be in the kitchen if you need me. Kill the word just, seemed, and the other qualifying verbal tics. It is tough writing this kind of conversation. There has to be more circular avoidance, then move in, and blurt it out. Even though the family is undergoing change, good changes, going to church together, nevertheless, everything isn't all okay. It doesn't work that way in a broken world. Show genuine change, yet with the realities of the habits of life, and the reality of abiding sin, still with hope, but not oversimplified, everything is all okay now.

Advance copy of LUTHER IN LOVE just arrived!

Monday, March 20, 2017

2 GRACE AWARD Finalist Bond Books for 2016

Thanks to the many of you who nominated my books for the GRACE AWARDS (2016). Not one but two of them are GW finalists (as near as I could tell, the only two books by the same author to make the finals), for which I am grateful to God.
YOUNG ADULT: (including Middle Grade and New Adult)
THE REVOLT by Douglas Bond ( P&R Publishing) ~ In his short career as a battle secretary, Hugh West’all has come close to death many times. But when he leaves the war behind to enter the hallowed halls of Oxford, he meets John of Wycliffe and soon embarks on a mission even more exciting—and perhaps just as dangerous. Using his scribe’s quill to translate the Bible into English, the language of the common people, Hugh begins to understand the beauty of the gospel as never before. But he and his friends are up against the corrupt monolith of the medieval church, and it will stop at nothing to crush Wycliffe’s work.
https://graceawardsdotorg.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/andthe-grace-awards-2016-finalists-are/
 
 
 
ACTION-ADVENTURE/WESTERN/EPIC FICTION: (exploits, quest, daring, expansive)
THE BATTLE OF SEATTLE by Doughlas Bond (P&R Publishing) ~ It’s 1855 in the Pacific Northwest, and hostility between white settlers and native tribes is rising quickly, leading to deaths on both sides. As tensions mount, young William Tidd joins Charles Eaton’s Rangers on a mission to hunt down Chief Leschi of the Nisqually. If they can stop him, they may be able to end the bloodshed before it gets worse . . . but not everyone wants peace with the enemy. Is all-out war inevitable? Through skirmishes, raids, close calls, and betrayal—William’s assumptions, beliefs, courage, and friendships will all be challenged in a few breakneck weeks.
https://graceawardsdotorg.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/andthe-grace-awards-2016-finalists-are/

When is a Book Finished? Inkblots

Four diehard 'Blots tonight, weather abated after blustery morning (no worries about maple tree falling on the Scriptorium, thanks to my eldest son and contacts). It is a delight after a busy day to sit down, breathe and enter the world of writing and literature with fellow 'Blots.

We discussed when to share your manuscript with a potential reader. I advised folks to revise and rewrite until you feel like you have your manuscript where you want it to be, including proof reading. Respect your reader who will spend hours of their time poring over your work. Nothing is more disheartening than to offer a critique only to hear, "Oh, I rewrote that whole section last week. I've made all those changes already." In other words, I can really do this without you, but keep reading anyway.

There are several levels of readers. You need a fast global reader (John Schrupp) who can give you perspective on the whole work, character arc, plot unity, and so forth. Then there is the unique reader who can read globally and for precise proofing details ('Blots Editorial Director Mary Lynn Spear is one of these rare people). There are many good proofreaders and editors out there (I'm glad because I have nothing like enough time to be that for very many others), but whomever you choose, you will need a careful and experienced proofreader and final copy editor. Expect to pay for these reading services. A great deal of time and skill goes into proofing and copy editing a manuscript. Getting grammar and punctuation correct can make or break a book. The chronic problem for indie published books is shoddy copy editing. InkBlots Press must at all cost avoid producing books that have not passed through the critical gateways that make for a first-rate finished book. 

Alisa leads off reading from her forthcoming The Emblem, written before Swiftwater, due to release later this month. Kelly, protagonist, or Jamie? Heather standing on the patio instead. Show us Heather seeming to have something to say to her (to Kelly, right?). What does a person look like when they are about to say something? You don't need uncomfortably from foot to foot because you make it clear that she is uncomfortable. The flats feel like they are going to become something of a symbol, a good idea. Without trying to interfere--I think you showed that, or were about to, rather than telling us that. She could berate herself for never wanting to interfere, get involved in the lives of others, and feeling like she had nothing to offer, someone who just went along with whomever was dominant in the room. Colored woman. We talked about this the other day, the difficulty of being in a historical context and avoiding using our preferred verbiage at the moment. They didn't use African American in the '20s, though they did use the n word, and rightly you did not, in my opinion. Patrick suggested he would like to hear more internal conflict material in italics.

Patrick pointed out how important it is to have a character who may be deeply flawed in certain areas, but they are competent in doing something, plumbing, woodcarving, listening to the woes of others, solving problems; the reader will be drawn to a character who is competent in doing something well.

Patrick reads near the end of his speculative fiction work, a Rahab character, apostate brother comes, shoot out, escape. This is after all that, back window of the truck shot out. Gabe fell asleep. A Sarb attack on a free human colony, hurl the disposables in first. If that doesn't break through the lines, send in the real troops to finish things off. A mass of feral Sarbs. Engine squealed and a zombie let out a visceral scream. Just as you read that I was about to write that I thought you needed to give us more sounds, so take it or leave it. You are sticking well with Gabe's reaction to the chase scene, the truck about to careen out of control. This is vivid, but I do think we need to hear more of the sounds of a truck doing what this truck is doing. What does that sound like? Were there smells? The over heating engine, human sweat super charged with fear? What do Sarbs sound like? Do they have a ferocious battle cry, heavy breathing, laughter, slavering? Do they smell as they get closer? Could you detect them simply by their smell? What does it smell like? When Gabe charges out of the wrecked truck, what is he thinking? Are Sarbs always unarmed? Do we know this already? When the Sarbs stand their ground, what do they look like, sound like? Are they leering, shouting, chanting--growl and hiss, I heard that, but I think the sounds of these creatures would be bone-chilling. The conversation sending the girl Duplicity who is a half Sarb for help. It should feel more frantic, desperate, do-or-die. It seems like this would work better if the girl offered to go for
LUTHER IN LOVE, due any day
help, and Gabe wouldn't hear of it, but she insisted. She may have come to the same conclusion about Sarbs smelling non-Sarbs, and voiced it to Gabe. Switch this around and I think you will have a far more powerful moment. Duplicity does make it through, and Gabe seems to react with more emotion than he showed below.

I read part of my Luther article for Modern Reformation Magazine, deadline looming. Reformation Romance, working title. Luther in Love is finished and in production, hopefully available by next week. I have learned so much writing this book! And I have gained a far greater appreciation for the sometimes-difficult role God calls some couples and families to. Pre-order at bondbooks.net

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Do you like these books? Nominate for GRACE AWARDS 2016

3 Bond releases in 2016 eligible for the GRACE AWARDS
I was contacted the other day by a reader who nominated one of my three books published in 2016 for the Grace Award. I would be so grateful if other readers who liked WAR IN THE WASTELAND, THE REVOLT, or THE BATTLE OF SEATTLE would take just a few moments and nominate one or all three of them--before February 28, the drop-dead deadline for nominations.

Believe me, I know it feels kind of awkward to ask this, but the first judicatory stage of the awards is based solely on popular vote, which means the more nominations from readers the higher the book ranks in the contest (before it ever actually gets judged on its own merits).

Another thing to keep in mind if you decide to nominate more than one of my three titles from 2016 (none of my books published in a different year are eligible): There are several categories for the books as you will see at https://graceawardsdotorg.wordpress.com/, so it is important not to nominate my books within the same category thereby making them compete with each other.

Thank you for considering doing this. It's easy and only takes a few minutes to nominate a book. Here is the site again: https://graceawardsdotorg.wordpress.com/. Please share with other readers, if you would.

Thanks, heaps! Don't forget the deadline February 28, 2017: https://graceawardsdotorg.wordpress.com/

CRITICIZE ME! The best writers welcome criticism (INKBLOTS)

A compelling cover for an intriguing new INKBLOTS' novel
Five 'Blots this evening, several regulars unavailable (Happy anniversary J & A). We chatted about Alisa's imminent and intriguing release, SWIFTWATER, and final work on back material, working with designer, and the million and one things to finalize a book.

Comment after last 'Blots: "To everyone that attended the last meeting, I'm certain that was some of the most helpful feedback I've gotten at a meeting, so thank you. As I work hard on a rewrite I'm discovering just how spot on the comments were. It's exciting to see tangible improvement."

Patrick shared some of his frustrations with being redemptive in his speculative fiction writing. Read Lewis and appreciate Aslan as a Christ figure and the redemptive objectives of his writing, but the need to go back to Scripture, to the source, for true redemption. How to weave good into tales and a genre that is often dark, bloody, and seemingly so unredemptive?

Two zombie sisters, Aza and Duplicity, who sound like they are country bumpkins. The girls grilled him about... but we don't hear them actually doing the grilling. Off to the movies, which Gabe had only seen on small screens, never before on the big screen at a theater. Sarb the name for zombies. Is this universally accepted or did Patrick invent Sarb. Inter-specie love and romance, made to sound quite common. I still think you are narrating conversations and reactions that we should be hearing and seeing. I love your embedded critic of Hollywood and movies. I would strongly suggest varying your narrative with protagonist's thoughts, conversations, and actions. Does Gabe have a mannerism that makes him real? I was then that I realized why there are zombies, to teach us about sin. Could he speculate about this rather than prescriptively states it? Or place it in a conversation. The narrative needs variation. Great content but better conveyed by placing it in conversation and action.

Sofia liked it but wondered if there needed to be more different from the humans they are going to the movies with, unique appearances, mannerisms, things that are normal in their world but not so in humans'. Rachel felt like there was too much past tense. Is the recalling of past scenes slowing the pace of the story?

Further is in the realm of ideas, as in, The further he thought about it, the more anxious he became. Farther is physical distance that could be measured.

Alisa wanted some 'Blots advice. She has several books going but is feeling weary of all of them, hit a wall. I asked Alisa which book she feels the most enthusiasm for, is most intrigued by. The Emblem
was the first thing she brought up. We started talking about story boarding or more loosely following the yarn where it leads you. Dickens was very meticulous and outlined the entire novel before he wrote it, whereas, O'Conner never wrote this way. Create an authentic character, plop them in an inciting and dangerous situation and hang onto your hat. Information bombs and history bombs, chapters that need to convey essential information but without stalling the pace, disconnecting the reader from the protagonist's problem.


I read a bit from my imminently forthcoming adult novel LUTHER IN LOVE. Inkblots members have helped me enormously on this biographical novel, especially the women members; they have helped me with the enormous task of writing from the point of view of a woman, something not so easy for a male author to do (I think female authors do this better than we men, generally speaking).