Monday, August 28, 2006

And the twist is. . .


Becky Miller nailed it.

The Twist in The Sixth Sense is that the man who thought he was helping the little boy stop imagining that he saw dead people was actually one of the dead and the little boy, who was gifted with this sixth sense, was helping him.



Love that ending! There are several other of M. Night Shyamalan's movies I'd love to explore. Not sure which one is next. Could it be The Village or Unbreakable? Hmmmm.

Don't forget to visit Favorite Pastimes this week where I'm blogging. I'm posting an interview with Carol Umberger. And my character for Brandilyn Collin's Scenes and Beans character blog is up today! (although there are three Bev Trexel writers and that isn't my post) Be sure to click on the Scenes and Beans icon to the left and visit the character blog.

Blessing!
Beth.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Do the Twist: M. Night Shyamalan


Recently I participated in a flash fiction contest--flash fiction defined as a short story under a thousand words. One wouldn't think it would be too difficult for a novelist to write a short story. I learned a lot. First that I was trying to put too much story into it. Second, it was a great exercise in writing tight. Third, I was missing something--that umph that gives the story/scene meaning.

I put it aside for a few weeks hoping that the missing piece would reveal itself to me while I was thinking about something completely different, or in the middle of the night (often that's when my best ideas occur). But the meaning of the story I'd written didn't reveal itself to me. Does that sound strange--that I would wait for my story's meaning to magically appear? Welcome to my world!

My daughter wants to see Lady in the Water, M Night Shyamalan's latest movie. We began a discussion of his movies and why we enjoyed them. The main reason--the twist at the end.

Aha, that is what my story was missing. I need a twist. I love twists at the end. After all as writers, isn't that one of the things we strive for--something unexpected.
Here's a synopsis of his film, Sixth Sense.
After the assault and suicide of one of his ex-patients, award-winning child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is left determined to help a young boy named Cole, who suffers from the same diagnosis as the ex-patient - they both see dead people. Malcolm cannot rest until he makes amends for his feelings of failure, created by the mental breakdown of the first patient.
Cole is a young boy who is paralyzed by fear from his visions of dead people. His mother is at her wits end trying to cope with Cole's eccentricities. With the help of Dr. Crowe, Cole goes on a journey of self as he learns to overcome his fears, all the while discovering the purpose of his gift.

The synopsis, however, does not tell us about the Twist. I'm sure you've seen the movie or at least heard about it.

And the Twist is??????? I want to hear your comments. What is the Twist? I'll post the answer tomorrow if I dont' hear from you or even if I do. If I have the time and the energy because I'm also posting at Favorite Pastimes this week (be SURE to stop by there) I hope to explore the Twist in each of his movies.

Oh and BTW, I did come up with a twist to my story. I had to completely rewrite it, but I love it. I'm not sure how others will feel about it, but the meaning I knew was hidden somewhere in the story magically revealed itself to me. . .as I knew it would.

Blessings!
Beth.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

SFF Blog Tour: Interview with Kathy Tyers Part II

Welcome to Day 3 of the CSFF Blog tour featuring Science Fiction author Kathy Tyers.

What is your personal all-time favorite SF work and why?

By “SF,” if you mean “speculative fiction,” including all of the speculative genres, that’s easy. Lord of the Rings—the books, though I also enjoyed the movies. For sheer richness of invention, the Lewisian sense of longing for a country I’ve never visited, the memorable characters, and for the many years of pleasure I’ve drawn from that trilogy. By the time I graduated from high school, I’d read them … well … more times than I like to admit. I’m fairly good at LotR trivia (not as good with the Silmarillion, but Tolkien knew it wasn’t finished, and the writer-side of me feels it’s unfair to show his unfinished work to the world. The fan-side of me is glad to have anything he wrote.).

If you restrict me to science fiction, it’s harder to come up with one book. There are so many excellent works that I haven’t read yet.

What is your faith stance, and how does it affect your writing?

I’m a Christian. It should affect everything I do.

What Christian book(s) (fiction or non-fiction) have had the greatest impact on your thought and writing?

All that Tolkien immersion certainly had a profound effect. The Screwtape Letters forced me to take Pascal’s Wager and get serious about my Christianity. For several years after that, I read everything Lewis I could get my hands on. I recently re-read Kathleen Norris’s The Cloister Walk and enjoyed it as much as ever. I know there’ve been others, but they aren’t coming to mind at the moment. My brain is stuffed full of graduate school, writing a novel, and trying to memorize the Hebrew alphabet for next term’s classes. Every time I cram something new into my brain, evidently something else goes away.

When you write, have you ever come across theological “puzzles” you had to sort through to your own satisfaction before you could continue with the story?

Yes. I often have to leave gaps in my rough drafts. At that stage, the goal is to just get something on paper. I know I can go back and fill the gaps later. The Firebird trilogy was full of issues that had to be thought through, starting with How can you possibly write about a universe in which telepathy could be practiced by godly people? Inventing a “false faith” for Lady Firebird’s background was shamefully easy, though I didn’t try to think it through in great depth. Fusion Fire required some long talks with my pastor regarding, “How can a good God allow evil to exist?” Crown of Fire was originally going to be two books, one about pride and another about atonement. Writing about these issues forced me to think about them in some depth and from various angles.

Any comments on the CBA SFF market or advice to those hoping to write in this genre for the CBA?
a) Pray.
b) Write your passion. Do not write for the market. (I struggle with this. It’s sometimes tempting to dismiss an idea I love as “unmarketable” or try to come up with “more marketable” ideas.)
c) Have a meaningful day job. I’m not being flippant. I’m increasingly convicted that “real world work” lets me be less dependent of the publishing industry, which is changing so fast that books I’d love to read go out of print before I know they’ve been published. Look at the music industry, and all the ways in which technology has changed production, delivery, gatekeeping, marketing, and consumption. I suspect we’re next.
d) Aim high. Be an artist who finds your bliss in a good story line and marvelous characters, and also be a professional and take the quality of your craft seriously. Neither stands alone.

You’re attending school right now. Any plans for a new novel? Your eager fans want to know!

I recently finished a co-writing job with my long-time friend, classical guitarist Christopher Parkening. His autobiography, Grace Like a River, hit the bookstores in June and comes with a free music CD.

One reason I decided to pursue this MCS degree at Regent College is that I’ll be required to produce an “arts thesis,” which could be—depending on one’s art—an exhibit of paintings, a dance recital, a recording, or a publishable book. I’ve started writing a SF novel that I might use for the thesis. It’s a tremendous joy to rediscover the writing process. I’m also doing a bit of “paid mentoring,” which is one of the few jobs I can hold down while I’m in Canada on a student visa.

Thanks again to Kathy Tyers for the interview. As I mentioned previously, since Kathy was attending summer school, I didn't want to bombard her with questions. If you haven't already, be sure to visit Karen Hancock's blog to read more about Kathy Tyers.

John J. Boyer, Valerie Comer,Bryan Davis, Rebecca Grabill, Leathel Grody, Karen Hancock, Elliot Hanowski, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Sharon Hinck, Pamela James,Jason Joyner, Tina Kulesa, Rachel Marks, Shannon McNear, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Cheryl Russel, Mirtika Schultz, Stuart Stockton, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith

Blessings!
Beth.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

SFF Blog Tour: Interview with Kathy Tyers Part 1


And so the SFF blog tour continues. I visited some of the blog tour particpants yesterday--or their blogs, rather. Tina Kulesa posted a review of the trilogy. Mirtika Schultz posted a guide to pronouncing names in the Firebird Trilogy. Though I confess, while reading the books, I pronounced them all differently than the the guide!

Now to begin the interview. Thanks to Stuart Stockton for his help with questions.

And thanks to Kathy Tyers for the interview.


Where did you grow up and what is your background?

In the 1950s, my part of Long Beach, California was full of apron-wearing moms, white picket fences, and rose gardens. I lived in Long Beach through the 1960s and moved to Montana in 1970, looking for wilderness a la Tolkien (found it, too). I attended Montana State University, and I have a B.S. in Microbiology and an education certificate. I also spent many years during and after college playing my flute in bands, orchestras, pit orchestras, small ensembles, etc. My late husband and I played folk music as a duo for many years. I taught school for three years before “retiring” to start a family, and I started writing science fiction when my family (a.k.a. Matthew) was two years old. I’m back in college now, working on a Master of Christian Studies degree (arts emphasis) at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C.

How did you get started writing and how long after you started would you say it took to get published?

Matthew (born 1981) took long, lovely naps, and I wanted to spend some of that time as “me time,” so I revisited an old hobby. I started writing in 1983 and was published in 1987.

What was your first exposure to the science fiction genre?

The Junior High section at the Dana Branch of the Long Beach Public Library had several of the old Winston (if I’ve got that wrong, I’m sure someone will tell me) hardcover science fiction novels, including Ben Bova’s first published book, “The Star Conquerors.” I was in fifth grade, and I read that book several times before I took it back to the library. I was hooked. Three years later, I discovered Lord of the Rings.

How did the opportunity arise for you to write Star Wars novels, and what was it like working in that mythos? Did you have to do your own research for continuity within the Star Wars galaxy, or did they give you a “Star Wars Bible filled with the current galactic canon material”?

I’d written four novels for Bantam Spectra and was slogging away on a near-future SF novel, which was set in Montana but going nowhere, when my editor (Janna Silverstein, who was a fellow Star Wars geek), called one February morning and offered me a chance to write a Star Wars novel. She asked for five well-developed book “pitches” by the end of the week. During in a conference call with her supervisor, we picked one. By then, I’d already started on my research, which involved a big bowl of popcorn, a yellow legal pad, and the VCR. After I signed the contract, Lucasfilm sent me a box of role-playing game resource books, some of which I used heavily. Lucas Licensing employs a number of people simply to maintain continuity. When I wrote The Truce at Bakura, that wasn’t the enormous job it is today. Several movies and many many books later, not to mention the games and other spin-off materials, it has to be daunting.

What was it like transitioning the Firebird Trilogy and Shivering World from an ABA publisher to a CBA publisher? Did you get to add stuff back in that you had taken out? Or vice versa.

I was able to bring forward the spiritual aspect that previously was “there in a quiet way.” One great (but humbling) pleasure was entirely rewriting Firebird, which was my first published novel. I’d learned a lot about the writing craft in the meantime. I’d still like to polish some parts, but eventually, you’ve got to let go of a project and do something new.


What kind of feedback have you received about having the Firebird trilogy set in a futuristic world in which the Savior hasn’t come yet?


People say, “That’s an interesting idea.” “Interesting” can mean many things. Mostly, the reaction seems positive.

Of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?


The three-in-one Firebird Trilogy volume.


Thanks again to Kathy. That concludes the first half of our interview. Please return tomorrow and be sure to visit the other blog participants.

John J. Boyer, Valerie Comer,Bryan Davis, Rebecca Grabill, Leathel Grody, Karen Hancock, Elliot Hanowski, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Sharon Hinck, Pamela James,Jason Joyner, Tina Kulesa, Rachel Marks, Shannon McNear, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Cheryl Russel, Mirtika Schultz, Stuart Stockton, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith

Blessings!
Beth.

Monday, August 21, 2006

SFF Blog Tour: Kathy "Firebird" Tyers

Kathy "Firebird" Tyers, as she is often called among Christian SFF fans, has grasciously agreed to an interview even though her schedule is hectic with summer school. Kathy is a multi-talented musician and writer, an icon among Christian science fiction fans because her career extends into both the secular and Christian markets with such titles as Firebird, Fusion Fird, Crown of Fire, Shivering World, Crystal Witness, One Mind's Eyes and numerous Star Wars novels.

Kathy is an exceptionally talented writer--her 3-1 book, Firebird Trilogy--is a must read for fans of the genre. I read the first book in the trilogy, Firebird, a couple of years ago and was immediately hooked and read the sequels as soon as I could get my hands on them. I shared the first novel with someone who then, after reading it, bought the 3-in-1 book and read it twice.

And even now as I'm talking about the Firebird books, there are so many creative elements that I would love to discuss. I'm reminded that fans have joined together to create a yahoo fan list called Lady Firebird.

Please return tomorrow to read the first part of my interview with Kathy and visit the other blog tour participants.

John J. Boyer
Valerie Comer
Bryan Davis
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Pamela James
Jason Joyner
Tina Kulesa
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Cheryl Russel
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith

Blessings!
Beth.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The homeschooling-multi-children-novel-writing-moms syndrome

Have you ever noticed that there are quite a few homeschooling moms who also write novels, many even published. I'm one of them. . .well not published (in novels anyway) but I homeschool several children and I write novels. I suppose that the love of books is just one reason many moms choose to homeschool their children.

Walls covered with overfilled bookshelves, books stacked against empty wall-space or piled high on top of the nightstand and next to it--these are some of the outward symptoms of the homeschooling-multi-children-novel-writing moms syndrome. Though I'm sure many homeschooling moms that don't write novels have this same problem, they don't suffer from the myriad of symptoms that plague the HMCNW moms.

HMCNW moms suffer through:

1) Guilt. Even though she's jut spent hours devoting her attention to her children, she is still plagued with the overwhelming guilt that she's taking time away from them by focusing on her writing endeavors.

2)Guilt. She's devoted all of her energies to homeschooling and novel writing, but has no energy left to adequatly clean the house.

3)Guilt. Wouldn't it be more important to do a sewing project with her daughter, or build a castle with the boys?

4)Strung out on caffeine

5)Perpetually tired

6)Wild swings between the two

7)Stacks of papers everywhere there is a flat spot and even on top of the books

8)Eyes glazed over because her mind continues to formulate her next scene or book idea.

9)Spending every extra penny on books

10)Guilt. Her children have to call her name 10 times because she's in her "other world".

11)Guilt. For sitting in bed staring at her laptop instead of floating around the house like June Cleaver.

I polled another HMCNW mom, Shannon McNear, to make sure I included most of the symptoms these poor women suffer. There is no cure when you're called to homeschool your children and to write. You simply must stay the course and suffer through attempting to balance life upon an inadequate scale.

If you are a HMCNW or know one, I'd love to hear about symptoms that you've suffered not currently on my list.

When you read a novel written by a HMCNW mom, remember the heart of what's gone into writing it.

Tomorrow begins the SFF Blog tour featuring Kathy Tyers! Remember to visit the following links:

John J. Boyer
Valerie Comer
Bryan Davis
Beth Goddard
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Pamela James
Jason Joyner
Tina Kulesa
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Cheryl Russel
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith

Blessings!
Beth.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour

The Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour Group will feature Kathy Tyers, author of the Firebird trilogy August 21, 22, 23. The participants, fifteen or more bloggers, will post such things as an author interview, book reviews, reflections on Tyers' influence on Christian fiction, discussion of her work and much more. Be sure to check back at Writing with Fire for further announcements and a list of sites involved in the tour.

Blessings!
Beth
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