Monday, January 28, 2008

Coming to Arkansas

In order to promote my new book, Beyond the Reflection's Edge, I will be signing books at the Skia Christian bookstore in Bentonville, Arkansas, on Saturday, May 10. If you're in that general area, I hope you'll come and see me at the store. I'll post the exact time at a later date.

I would also like to schedule talks at local schools, homeschool groups, libraries, churches, etc, during the days leading up to the bookstore event. So, if you would like me to come to your group on Thursday, May 8 or Friday, May 9, please let me know. There will be no charge. You may either begin the contact by commenting on this post, or email be at bryan at dragonsinourmidst dot com.

I'm looking forward to this trip. I hear that part of the state is beautiful.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Fluorescent Idea

As an author, I love words and the images they conjure. Yesterday, I spent some time replacing old light bulbs with the new energy-saving fluorescent type. They look really cool.

You know how a light bulb turns on above a cartoon character when he gets a bright idea? These bulbs made me think of that. Wouldn't it be funny if new cartoons used these bulbs instead, indicating a different kind of idea, maybe an energy-saving idea?

Then I thought about the fact that fluorescent lights are a problem for some people. Sometimes the flickering or the noise can cause headaches, and the type of light can lead to other illnesses, so some people don't like them at all.

And that led me to this "bright idea." I'm inventing a new term. When you have a great idea, but it's likely to bother some people, call it a "fluorescent idea." For example, if you decide to paint your house pink or erect a twenty-foot statue of Groucho Marx in your front yard, that would be a fluorescent idea, because it's likely to annoy the neighbors. If you decide to save money by wearing the same pair of socks every day for two months, that would be a fluorescent idea.

So here's what I'm asking you to do. Please use this phrase whenever you can. If someone has an idea that you think is annoying, tell them out loud that it's a fluorescent idea. Use it in your writing. I'm already trying to figure out how to put it in one of my books. Use it in emails and chat rooms, explaining the meaning to those who don't understand. Let's make it part of the new lingo.

If you have an example of a fluorescent idea, tell me about it in a comment.

I know. Some people will think the idea to do this is fluorescent, but that's okay. It will only help to spread the word about this great new term.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Book Covers

As many of you have noticed, I have a poll on the left side of my blog page asking which of my Dragons in our Midst/Oracles of Fire book covers is your favorite. I'm keeping it there for about another week, so please cast your vote if you haven't already.

Circles of Seven is the clear leader, which is no surprise to me. It's also my favorite, but as I study the results and note the second and third place covers, I noticed that the top three covers all have a scene that includes a clear and present danger. Tension is high. While they all evoke curiosity and intrigue, it seems that people like scenes that make you think the hero had better do something right away, or the consequences will be terrible.

What makes a book cover appealing? What makes you want to pick it up and see what's inside? Is it danger? Colors? People's faces? Beautiful scenery?

Regarding immediate danger, when I saw the cover of L.B. Graham's book Shadow in the Deep, I immediately wanted to know what the story was about. Although my writing schedule kept me from reading it, my eldest son assures me that it's great.

Regarding colors, check out the cover of Wayne Thomas Batson's new pirates novel, Isle of Fire. The artwork gives us a blend of beautiful colors and dark shades, and the danger element is there, as well. Definitely a lot of intrigue. Anyone who picks it up knows he's about to embark on a danger-filled adventure.

Contrast that to the cover of my novel Beyond the Reflection's Edge. Colors are intentionally muted. No imminent danger. Yet it still gives a sense of intrigue and makes people curious. With the reflected hand, the city skyline at the bottom, and the musical score in the background, the cover gives us plenty to think about.

And when I think about the covers that are coming, I get excited about the potential reaction. I saw a preliminary cover for the fourth book in my Oracles of Fire series, The Bones of Makaidos, and I know that some of my readers are literally going to squeal when they see it. It shows something my readers have been wondering about for almost three years.

So, tell me. What kind of book cover appeals to you? Can you think of a particular cover that you think is great? What made you pick it up? What cover disappointed you? Maybe it promised something the book didn't deliver.

Let's talk about it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What's on Your Desk?

I thought it might be fun to show you what my desk looks like on a typical day and ask you post a link to a photo of your desk.

To the left, you can see my desk, and if you click here, you can see a larger version, but it's high-resolution, so don't click if you have dial-up.

Can you spot the following items (roughly from left to right)?

A galley copy of Beyond the Reflection's Edge, an empty glass, my laptop computer, a stack of post-it notes propping up my laptop because it overheats, nail clippers, partially unwrapped Hall's cough drops, a pen, an open envelope, a pad of blank checks, a wallet, a paper clip, chapstick, the checkbook where the blank checks belong, a thumb drive, a video camera, my monitor with my favorite photo of my favorite person, a spider on top of the monitor. a wireless keyboard, bookmarks, a weather station that currently reads 37 degrees, a cup with pens and pencils, two Duracell batteries, blue-handled scissors, a wireless Microsoft mouse, bottle of water, various receipts, a brown box, and two bottles of vitamins.

People sometimes say that your desk reflects your character or personality. Is that true? If so, what does my desk say about me?

How about your desk? Post a link to a photo and give me a list of things to look for. No fair cleaning up before you take the photo! Then we can psychoanalyze you.

I hope some people will do this. Otherwise this will be a waste of time. Invite your friends to come here and post a link to a photo. Post your desk on your own blog and link back to mine. Let me know you did it, and I'll post a comment on your blog. Maybe we can start a desktop blog tour and make it spread throughout the Internet.

Okay, so I dream big. No matter what happens, let's have some fun.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Envelope Please

We have a winner in the "Appreciate a Dragon Day" poetry contest. After agonizing over all the great poems with my wife and one of my children, we chose the finalists and made the difficult decision.

Ian posted as Fantasy Loving Christian, and he will receive a copy of the Circles of Seven Audio Book.

Here is his poem:

By blessed praise and holy fire
Dragons came to fight
To serve the righteous King of Life
Warriors of the light

Corrupted ones, the fallen fire
In darkness named their race
Yet some stood strong and kept the word
Of God’s eternal grace

In deepest darkness of the world
The fallen angels raved
But evil power could not touch
The dragons who were saved

Beyond the scale, beyond the claw
An evil war is fought
To claim eternal faithful souls
That once in sin were caught

The dragon’s tooth, the dragon’s claw
The dragon’s holy fire
Are not as strong as faith and love
Which lift us gently higher

For we, the dragons, now must choose
The king that we will serve
Will fight for darkness or for light
We dragons of the earth?

Congratulations, Ian!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Appreciate a Dragon Day!

January 16 is the official "Appreciate a Dragon Day." So, if you know a dragon, tell him (or her) how much you appreciate him. Dragons always enjoy a nice pat on their scaly backs, or a belly rub, if you dare. I hope you like the outstanding portrait of Makaidos, one of the dragons from my book series, drawn by thirteen-year-old Kristin. (Thank you, Kristin!)

To celebrate this holiday, I am running a contest. Create a short poem (at least four lines) about dragons and post it as a comment. I will pick the best ones and draw a winner at random from the finalists.

After you post, send me an email with your email address so I can contact you if you win. The prize is the Circles of Seven audio book. My email address is bryan at dragonsinourmidst dot com. Replace the "at" with "@" and "dot" with a period.

I reserve the right to reject any poems, and the winner must live in the U.S. or Canada (Postage is expensive.) The decision of the judge is final.

******** Added on Sunday, January 20 ********
The poetry contest for Appreciate a Dragon Day is now over. I will announce the winner soon.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Writers' Conferences - Just Do It

I believe that attending writers' conferences is the best way for aspiring writers to learn about the craft, to network with editors and other writers, and to get published. I will be teaching the teen track at two upcoming conferences: the Florida Christian Writers' Conference near Bradenton, Florida, February 28-March 2 (Click Here) and the Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference near San Jose, California, March 14-18 (Click Here).

If you're a teen writer and want to take a serious class on writing fiction with an emphasis on fantasy, you might want to check these out. At the Florida conference, there are a few $200 grants available for teens. That will help a lot.

Adult writers will also benefit greatly. I might even let you sneak into my class, especially if you bring cookies. My career as an author began because of editor contacts, and I met a lot of writing friends as well, so I always point to conferences as the road to success. Several established authors helped me hone my skills or introduced me to editors or movers and shakers in the industry. If you want to get out of the slush pile, this is the way to go.

I hope to see some of my blog readers there! I'll do my best to show you the ropes.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My Readers Rock!

Perhaps the greatest blessing I receive as an author is the opportunity to hear from readers. They send me emails, letters, pictures, such as this great rockin' dragon sent by thirteen-year-old Sierra Reep, and even cookies. They tell me how much my books mean to them, and I am often overwhelmed by their testimonies. I have heard from kids who have become Christians because of my books, or are now walking closer to God, or have changed their minds about hurting others or themselves, even one teenager who changed her mind about committing suicide.

On more than one occasion a reader has arranged a Dragons in our Midst party and invited other readers to come. When I went to one of these parties in the Atlanta area, readers came from as far away as New Jersey and Louisiana to get together for one afternoon because of their love for my books. What an amazing blessing!

When I go on book tours, I often meet readers who become good friends with my children, and now we have close bonds. As I write this, two of my readers are in my home, having flown in from distant cities to spend time with our family. On one occasion, a couple of readers traveled great distances to help my family move from Orlando to Tennessee!

I hope never to take these amazing blessings for granted. My readers are more valuable than gold. That's why I reply to every email, every letter, and every author-directed post on my message forum, which amounts to hundreds and hundreds of personal pieces of correspondence. It can take several hours each week to get to all of them, but it's worth it.

Some kids ask me for counsel regarding very difficult, even tragic events in their life. They don't have anyone else to turn to. How could I ignore a single cry for help? As long as God gives me strength, that will never happen.

So, hats off to my readers! You rock! Without you, I could never be an author. Without you, I would have no reason to write at all. Even if my books sell so many copies that I become a celebrity, may God help me never to forget that as an author I am a servant, not a star.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Are you a Scrub Jay?

I'll never forget this hiking experience in one of Florida's scrub forests. We came upon a family of scrub jays. I had heard that, unlike most birds, they have very little fear of humans. That proved to be an understatement. Although we were out in the wild, they landed on our heads, hands, and shoulders, checking us out as though we were curiosities to be thoroughly examined.

I snapped this photo of my wife, Susie, with one of these beautiful birds perched on her hand. It remains as one of my favorite shots of all time, not only because both the lovely lady and the statuesque bird posed so nicely, it always reminds me of deeper truths.

Most flocks of birds will scatter when you approach, fearful that you will hurt them, though their fears are almost always unfounded. I, for one, would love to walk up to a bird and stroke its feathers and have it perch on my finger and sing a song. I have no desire to harm them. I only want to enjoy their beauty. But they fly away, ignorant of my desires to share the blessing of their presence.

I wonder if God feels the same way when people scatter whenever He wants to draw near. The Bible says that He seeks to be with us and rejoices over us, but some people fear His presence. They think He will punish them for wrongdoings. They are shivering sparrows who believe they are the next meal for an wrathful deity, so they fly away.

If a person is alienated from God, perhaps fear is justified. Perhaps wrath is to be expected. Yet, even some of those who have made peace with God through Jesus Christ are still afraid. They don't want to sit and sing songs of worship. They're still guilt-ridden or simply still accustomed to flying away.

Since I have been made a friend of God, I will never join the scattering birds. I am like a scrub jay. I want to fly to my Master's hand when I see Him walking down the lane, seeking to have fellowship with me. Even though my voice squawks like a scrub jay's, I will sit and sing my heart out anyway, because I have no fear of my Master, and I know He loves to hear my joyful noise, off-key or not.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Project Status

In case anyone wants to know how my book production schedule is going, here is an update.

I am busily writing Last of the Nephilim, book three in the Oracles of Fire series. I wrote about 65,000 words in December, which is good considering the holidays and a wedding anniversary made for a few non-writing days. I hope to finish the first draft by the end of January. The book is tentatively scheduled to come out in June, so once I get it done, AMG Publishers will put it on a fast track for editing and proof-reading.

I am also proof-reading the galley for Beyond the Reflection's Edge, the first Echoes from the Edge book. That should go quickly. It is scheduled to come out in May. I will soon get back first edits from the publisher for Eternity's Edge, the second book in that series, so that will add to my workload. Then I will write book three in that series, which is as yet untitled and is supposed to be finished by mid-July.

After that, I plan to write The Bones of Makaidos, book four in the Oracles of Fire series, which might be the last of the dragons books. We'll see.

I am thankful for so many opportunities to write, and I could well be making an announcement soon regarding more books. Keep watching this blog for further developments.