Hope for the future

I have recently been working again on writing, after a long time of not feeling up to it. Some of my physical issues are better and I’m again motivated to get things down on paper (or the screen). I again have hope that I can get a manuscript done and published.

Yeah me! I even have a plan and loose schedule for doing so.

And all this has got me thinking. You know, hope is a valuable thing. Having hope for my health has sustained me at times but having hope that even if my health goes south I have a savior in heaven that will take me to be with him. That is something no one can take away.

But now that it seems I will be around for awhile, I have been given hope for other things. I am serving in my church in places that can bring God’s hand to others. That is a kind of hope, to be used of God. I teach at a school where sometimes I can have a positive influence on my students. That is hopeful.

And I have continued to write again. I don’t know why for me personally, I get a lot of satisfaction in finishing a project. It can be almost anything. I write lists and I feel a good deal of satisfaction for each item I check off. That can be anything from a shopping list to a writing to-do list. In fact I document every day I write, what day I did it, how much I accomplished, and any notes along the way.

So I have my big hopes and my small hopes. A hope in Jesus for salvation, and to be used by him. And also a hope to do the little things he has put in front of me.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23).

In Perilous Flight Out Now!

The sequel to The Last Place to Stand is finally out. In Perilous flight continues the story of Samuel, Susan and the rest of the survivors of Earth as they head to an unknown destination in an alien spaceship. It also chronicles the events of a civil war and the planetary system of Alachren.

This one took me a year and a half to write, making it the longest book yet at 412 pages. There are really two stories being told in parallel which intersect at the end. One in the starship and the other on a pair of planets. I love that I get to write about an alien civilization in this book. It was a lot of fun.

Having commandeered an alien vessel, Samuel and a small group of survivors from Earth take flight. But their destination is unknown by all but their alien ship’s computer, and their fearful journey is troubled by an uneasy truce between the Technophiles and the Waldenese, dwindling supplies, and a mysterious sickness that seems more than a sickness.

Meanwhile on a planet far away, a race known as the Alachrens face the possibility of extinction unless they can relocate to a nearby world. Their only obstacle lies in a disagreement with the original terraformers who decide they don’t want to share this new world, ushering them into a civil war that could determine the fate of everyone on their home planet.

It is out in both paperback and for the Kindle. Have fun reading!


Why so little Christian science fiction?

I am essentially done with my latest book, In Perilous Flight, and you should see it at the start of May at Amazon.com. Now I am in the market for a new book idea, as I want a break before heading to book three of the same series.

What I really want to do is a truly Christian science fiction novel. One where major Christian themes are involved.

I did some searching for Christian science fiction and you know what I found? Very little. It seems there is almost no good Christian science fiction being published on a regular basis. When looking for a list of such books I get stories from either long dead authors or a story here or there where some vaguely Christian idea presents itself.

I am at a loss. As a believer in the God of the Bible, I see no conflict between the God who invented the laws of physics and the universe itself and a story that takes place in that universe, however remote. Indeed, I see no conflict with hard science and the God of creation.

And so I am disappointed that it seems Christians have let a secular world view pretty much dominate science fiction. I want to take that back. Not to mention, I would like to have more Christian science fiction books to choose from when anyone goes looking.

Why Science Fiction?

I have puzzled over the years as to why I am particularly fond of science fiction. I know those who will not even watch a movie unless it pertains to something in real life, or better yet, if it’s a true story.

I try to avoid true stories most of the time. In fact, at the end of a hard day/week/life, I feel that nothing refreshes me more than getting away from real life and their stories.

Why is this? I have wondered if something were wrong with me. A piece of broken humanity not yet fixed after the fall. But there is more to it than that. I believe the reason I go to science fiction is because somewhere in that broken growing up, I lost the ability to wonder.

Scratch that. I didn’t lose it, but it was systematically torn from me. Let me explain. When I was young, anything was possible. We had recently just been to the moon, and other planets were talked about for future missions. Who knew what we might find out there, and we were just getting warmed up. The space race was in full swing.

On TV, at least according to the older shows I used to watch, it seemed if you wanted a new creature, all you had to do was drop an animal in a vat of nuclear ooze for a brief time and voila, you have a new mutation. Whether monster or superhero, either would be great because it meant that the world was not a boring place and there were infinite possibilities still before us.

Even on our own planet there were whole people groups on other continents that had never been reached, patches of land never explored.

Then came the reality check.

All space exploration came to a grinding halt soon after the moon shot. It was just too expensive and did not help with our stockpiling of nuclear weapons. Nuclear radiation doesn’t create new species, it just kills. And, sorry, but now we’ve already been everywhere and seen almost everything on this crust of a world we inhabit.

No more monsters to be found, no more incredible vistas to be viewed. This is what we’ve got, and that’s it.

And for me, that is a problem, because I still want to see what no one has ever seen, I want to go where no man has ever gone before. And that leaves me few choices. I cannot, as Homer once did, imagine strange creatures living continents away, not because I knew they were there, but because no one could tell me that they weren’t. I now know they don’t exist. I can google it in two minutes. And if I wrote a book about such things as fact, a critic would be happy to correct me on the matter.

And so I explore imagined worlds, with civilizations beyond our own and creatures that both thrill and fascinate. I create what even those writers have yet to make up, because there is something satisfying in creating a world yourself, because you truly are the first explorer in that world. You found it, and now you can travel through every fossil laden valley, and examine the remains of alien civilizations learning how they lived and where they went so that you may follow them and maybe ask questions of their existence.

And since I will not live another four hundred-fifty years into the future, I can fashion such a world myself, where I will smell the depleted atmosphere of a world fallen into disrepair as we prepare to leave for a new planet, a new start. I will make that first jump to lightspeed and see what really happens when I press the red button.

And I will not lose that sense of awe. That sense of wonder. That sense of amazing.

I know that God is that big, yet I keep getting the sense that as our world is shrinking, I get less wonder out of it. Sill, I suspect heaven will have no such let down, so my issue is a temporary one. God being infinite in every way, and wonderful beyond finding out.

Sometimes silence

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. I know it has been awhile since my last post, but sometimes silence it a good thing. It means I have been busy working on the book. In fact, if you subscribed to my newsletter, you would have received a preview of the book just before Christmas, and over Christmas break I have done a lot of writing.

One change I’ve made is the title. What was Stand Among the Stars, has since been changed to In Perilous Flight. This is much more in keeping with the themes and tone of the book. I have also added and improved much of the content. It now stretches over 400 pages long! For me, that is quite an accomplishment. The first book in the series is not much over 200 pages, so this is like writing two books in one.

I am staying with my goal of attempting to publish In Perilous Flight at the end of February. It still seems realistic and I can’t wait to see the finished product.

I hope all of you had a very good Christmas. It has been very fun (and exhausting) for me. Exhausting because our family just moved to a new place. While the bulk of the furniture took only a day to move, the rest of it, including cleaning the old place has stretched out over weeks. So, rather than a relaxing vacation, this has been exhausting.

Having said that, I still enjoyed time with my family and my wife’s relatives. The church where we attend Valley Life Church had a wonderful Christmas Eve service of singing Christmas carols and reading the story of the birth of Jesus. It was very inspiring, and helped us to focus on the one who came for us and became weak so that we could have eternal life.

Well, a lot of excitement on the horizon as I finish this book. Blessing to all!


Write Some Every Day

Business Insider had an article this morning titled, “16 daily habits that are easy to practice and can significantly improve your life.” I found several of these particularly helpful, but among these number 12 caught my eye. It said, “12. Write: Writing every day can help you keep track of your progress, feel good, and stay motivated to make even more progress.”

Here’s the way I came to think about writing awhile back. Writing is therapy. As much as talking about my life, my hurts and my fears, to a trained therapist, writing is therapy. When I write I spill myself onto paper. It is there that I can “spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways,” as T. S. Eliot would put it in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Proofrock.”

And this is true whether it be confessional poetry (something I did in high school quite a bit) or fiction (which I lean toward much more now). On numerous occasions I have written scenes that stemmed from something in my childhood. I have wept over events in a character’s life. I have even written amore into a book when I had no intention to do so whatsoever, simply because my wife was out of town for a couple of days and without consciously realizing it, I missed her. Writing brings out what is inside of me, and while a good friend might also draw these things out, such friends are rare, and the time needed to go that deep even rarer.

So I have another reason to go on writing. It is not my life, as some would say. It is not a career, nor a dream of riches or fame. Writing for me is enjoyment and it is therapy. I am happiest when I write some every day.

Teaching Writing

Today I began to teach my high school English students how to write dialogue. It is funny that many believe they know how to do it correctly, but as it turns out there are a lot of tricks when it comes to the punctuation in dialogue. Where does the comma go in relation to the quotation mark? How about a quotation ending in a question, but you still have to put the attribution at the end of the sentence?

I have not even gone into the different ways you can say someone said something, and how often anyway should you say “he said” or “she said?”

Teaching the process of writing again brought out a renewed interest in doing it myself. It has been about a year and two months since I last published a book, so I am overdue for a new one. I must say though that what I am working on now is a duesy. Currently it’s standing at 81,633 words. Before this, my longest book stood at just over 60,000, so to me it’s a lot.

[Trivia alert: Did you know the word duesy originated from the car manufacturer Duesenberg, which created an American built limousine. So a duesy was an American built limo, considered to be among the best cars built. Therefore a duesy is a big deal]

I have also experimented with third person limited person in which different chapters or sections are from the perspective of one character. This was a fun challenge for me, but certainly added to the difficulty of the book.

Well, it’s time to get back to my writing. Thanks for reading.


End of Summer Writing

I have picked up my game here at the end of the summer. I have now finished my 6th draft of my next novel and am busy on the 7th. I hope you all enjoy the last month of summer. For me, school starts in a week! That means I have to be a lot more disciplined in my writing to get anything done. But on the positive side, it means I will have a regular schedule to follow, which may actually help me get things done. I can’t wait to get this one published because I have another first draft I am thrilled to refine. My next book is unrelated to any series I have ever done. It looks like a stand alone novel. Science fiction, of course.

Oh, and in another month or two I hope to send all of my email list subscribers a preview of this book. I have recently broken 80,000 words!

5th Draft Done & Summer Break Writing

Yesterday I finished by 5th draft of the sequel to The Last Place to Stand. This has been a slow process, but it’s really coming together and is by far the longest book I have written to date. I’ve fixed most of the broken plot issues at this point and am focusing on individual characters, tweaking them for consistency. After that I will do a word analysis and replace overused words, followed by another read-through and that may be it. The good news is the hardest part is over.

The other good news is it’s summer, and that means I will have more time to focus on the book, between vacations of course. If all goes according to plan, this book will be out this fall. It has taken me longer than any other work, but having mostly recovered now from kidney failure, which started about this time last year, to not only getting back to my teaching job, but now writing again feels like a major accomplishment. Life is good, and so is God.

I am excited to get this thing out into the wild, and if you are signed up for my email newsletter expect to get a preview of my new book sometime this summer. Now go out and enjoy the sunshine, and maybe bring a good book along with you.