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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Tribebuilding Contest…EXTENDED!

After a request from a number of readers and a discussion with Sir Christopher, we have decided to extend the Curse of the Spider King Tribe Building Contest! We have 5 very active tribes and one more about to go active. The new deadline for all Contest Activities is:

March 1st, 2010 

Friday, December 04, 2009

Ready to rock? Curse of the Spider King Music, Track 1

Christopher Hopper and I are pleased to announce the official release of The Lost Ones, our new single for the Curse of the Spider King. We batted around the idea of putting it on iTunes and numerous other online providers, but felt it was better simply to offer it to you directly through our websites. For free. If you'd like to donate a dollar for the song download, that's appreciated, but please don't feel obligated. This is a small 'thank you' to all those of you who have been so faithful to help promote our works through your enthusiasm.

If nothing else, please leave a comment to let us know you've downloaded the single.

"The Lost Ones"
Music by: Christopher Hopper
Words by: Wayne Thomas Batson & Christopher Hopper
Performed, Recorded, Mixed & Mastered by: Christopher Hopper
Sprig Records 2010

DOWNLOAD "The Lost Ones" (5.9Mb)

Free Spider King for Librarians--18 copies left

If you're in the Tribe Building Contest (or even if you're not), contact a local librarian (public library or school library) and see if they'd like a copy of Curse of the Spider King. Christopher Hopper and I would like to honor our "unsung heroes" for helping us all get good books to read.

Just have the librarian email me and provide the address to the school/library. I'll send them a signed copy of Spider King--free, not even postage required! lol

I have 18 copies left to be claimed!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Knowing Jesus, Part 2


Thanks to all who posted comments. There is some comfort to know that others share the fears, worries, and doubts. In thinking more about Jesus being baptized by John, I thought again about how aghast John was at the thought of baptizing the Lord of Lords. It struck me that, in addition to fulfilling prophecy, Jesus was really humbling himself. Right there at the start of his ministry on earth, Jesus let this dirty, sweating, sinful, locust-eating wild man baptize the perfect One of God. It’s kind of poetic that Jesus began and ended His earthly ministry by humbling himself at the hands of mankind. So, from this, I learn that Jesus, like the Father, has no interest in forcing us to love Him. Jesus is willing to go to all lengths, diminishing himself to serve mankind, to show His love by serving. How often I underestimate God’s love for us. I still can’t really feel it like a hug or a pat on the shoulder, but something stirs in my gut at the thought of Jesus humbling himself for mankind.

On to the next meeting with Jesus:

Matthew 4 (New International Version)

The Temptation of Jesus
1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."

4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
" 'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'[b]"

7Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"

11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Mannn, how many times have I read or heard this passage. I’m struggling to keep preconceived notions out of my head—Jesus fought the devil with God’s word, so therefore we Christians ought to memorize the Word to use it against the enemy. That’s true—and very important, right?

But Lord, what can I learn about you personally from this? Okay, you fasted for 40 days and nights. You have to be sold out, dedicated to even attempt something like that. How’d you do that anyway? You had to have water and something to eat or you’d have died. But still, it was a fast, so you had to deny yourself most everything. Why? Why do that? I can’t remember Jesus fasting anywhere else in scripture. The only thing I can think of is that you wanted to weaken your flesh…you wanted to make yourself vulnerable. You knew the Devil was coming, and you wanted the flesh to be nearly spent. Was this your way of showing us how important it is for us to come to the end of ourselves? It’s almost like you’re saying, “I just about killed myself, but I didn’t give in to the enemy.”

And how did He resist? Scripture—the Spirit. He didn’t try to solve the problem through his humanity. He didn’t try to climb down on His own. He didn’t negotiate. He didn’t give in. He spent all of his humanity so that He could rely on God and Him alone. So from this, I realize that Jesus is brave and kind of relentless. I also learn that you are superior to the devil in every way.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Knowing Jesus, Part 1

 11/30/09: I’ve been a Christian for 18 years, longer if my first salvation prayer accessed the reservoir of eternal life from God’s free gift. Thing is, my whole Christian life has been plagued with doubt, mostly because I know my own shortcomings. But also due to comparing myself to other Christians I know. Over those 18 years, I've met some extraordinary Christian brothers and sisters…people who, quite honestly glowed in the dark. But I wondered, do they really know Jesus like they say they do? Some of these great people spoke of Jesus like I would speak  of a best friend--as if they had frequent, actual contact.

So, long story short, I wonder about this whole Knowing Jesus thing. How do we know God? I can’t see him, I can’t feel him, I can’t hear his voice—I know some good brothers and sisters seem to have more intimacy with him. I just don’t know. Are all these other people liars? Are they misinterpreting their experiences? Is knowing Jesus a psychosomatic phenomena? Or, can we actually know Jesus like our best friend? There has to be a difference in the relationship--He is God. He is invisible to us now. But I wonder, am I missing something still?

So, how can I know Jesus? I pray sometimes…not as often as I should. But sometimes, when I pray, I feel like a stranger looking around in a big empty house. Anyone there? Hello? My words seem to bounce off the ceiling.

I don’t blame God, though sometimes I’m arrogant enough to do so, but I still just don’t seem to get to know Him through prayer.

Well, there’s one place I’m confident his word exists: the Bible, esp. the gospels. So, I’m going to reread all of them, but with a different approach. I’m reading to get to know Jesus, and for no other reason. Lord God, I am a broken, messed up, confused, and sinful man. If you may be known, let me know you. And please know me and remember me when I die and stand before God. I would wither without you. Amen.

Official disclaimer: I don't claim to be an expert in Biblical matters. My theology might be stronger than some, weaker than others. I'm not attempting to teach anything to anyone. I'm just hoping to share the experience of getting to know Jesus. I welcome all feedback.

Matthew 3: 13-17

The Baptism of Jesus
13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"

15Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

This is the first scene in the NT where Jesus comes before the camera and speaks. John has been waiting for the Messiah, waiting for Jesus to come, but not waiting to baptize Jesus. John knows just who this is, he’s already reckoned himself unfit to tie Jesus’ sandals. John was blown away by Jesus coming to be baptized. In fact, John tried to deter Jesus. His motives were pure, but he was objecting to something he didn’t understand. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? How many criticisms of God are just that way? How many times have I growled at God as if there’s one thing in this universe I might actually know better than the Almighty?

But this isn’t about me. Back to Jesus. How does the Messiah, God in the flesh, respond to John? Gently, but with clear perspective. Let it be so now; it is proper—ie: in God’s plan, this is the right thing to do and will “fulfill all righteousness.” To John, it’s preposterous that he, a mere man, should baptize the Lord. But to Jesus, it was just as it should be. From this passage I get to know Jesus a little bit; I get a foggy window into His mind. Even from the beginning, Jesus had the plans of God on His mind.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour: Monday thru Wed this Week!

 Greetings all! I'm stoked to let you know that Curse of the Spider King will be featured this week on the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour. If you don't know the CSFF, allow me to tell you that their mission in life is to make more and more readers aware of good SciFi & Fantasy written by Christian Authors.

With each tour, an awful lot of bloggers put in an awful huge effort to discuss, review, promote, and celebrate good books. In the process, they usually run the book being discusses into the Top Ten Book Blogs on the enter world wide web. Pretty impressive eh?

Christopher Hopper and I are honored to be featured this week. So, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, you won't catch me on my own blog very much, but I will be visiting everyone on the blogroll below. Please join me. Drop some comments. Give us your .02.

On the following blogs, you'll find all kinds of new interviews with CH and I, not to mention some stories about us and the book that you'll find NO WHERE else.

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Amy Browning
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Tina Kulesa
Melissa Lockcuff
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Cara Powers
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
KM Wilsher

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Oh well, it was a good

I hate those nonsense words that you have to type in on blogs and whatever to prove you're not a SPAM-BOT. And so I left Enter the Door Within, so that folks could open post and comment.

Well, after nearly 3 years of safe blogging, I'm starting to get spammed. Everything from Russian messages about who knows what to sales of prescription drugs---LOL

So from here on out folks, I've had to raise the security level, and…that includes the silly little nonsense word guardian. I apologize for the inconvenience, and I hope that the faithful visitors to Enter the Door Within will still post and comment as before.

Thanks for your time.

PS: You know I can't resist a cliffhanger. Stay tuned for a very cool announcement or two.

PPS: Oh, and next week is the CSFF Blog Tour three day event for Curse of the Spider King! Please visit all the sites/blogs involved. You may find out some very, very interesting things. ;-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tis the Season…

I know, you're thinking, what is this, Walmart? It's only November and you're hanging out the Christmas Stuff??? What's a guy to do? I heard my friend, author Eric Reinhold's doing something nutty, and I wanted to share it with you:


I know this is crazy, but yes! You can get both book 1 (Ryann Watters and the King’s Sword) and book 2 (Ryann Watters and the Shield of Faith) for the low, low price of $20. Retail price is $38. Consider it my contribution to a tough economy. Unlike on-line discounter, Amazon. com that charges $26.13 for both books, at PLUS you get both of them personally signed by me and two com memorative bookmarkers as well for just $20!


Between now and Christmas, the goal is to sell out of the first run of books so we can go for the second printing. Take a few minutes to think of the following before you order:

1. What parents do you know that would like a safe, engaging story for their kids to read?

2. What kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, cousins, do you know that would enjoy both books for Christams?

3. Does your school library or church have copies? What better donation to impact a lot of kids in a positive way.

4. How about donating a set to your local public library?

5. What about using them as a give-a-way for a prize in your youth group or children's Sunday School, homeschool group, or Awana store?

Eric Reinhold

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Post About Nothing

I don't have anything meaningful to say. But I feel like writing. So hello to all my readers. For those who've already gotten Spider King, I hope you're enjoying it. Take your time. These things take a while to write, you know. I'm wondering why my Redskins are so terrible this year. Is it the owner? The coach? The players? I dunno. But it hurts to watch them. I feel like at some point, every player has got to say, you know this is a tough situation, but I still need to give my all. Dig deep. Fight adversity. If they don't, it's going to be a LOOONNNNNG season.

Last regular season football games for  my two boys. I sure hope they end on a high note. It's been a rough season. I just ate a protein bar that tastes roughly like hot cocoa and sawdust. Is that a good thing?

It's fall here in Maryland. Beautiful leaves falling. Nice cool temps. I still wish it was Summer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

News Galore: Moonbeams and Spiders and Audio, Oh My!

Greetings, all! How are you? I'm crazy busy and crazy wonderful. Please read on and find out why.

Item #1: The Amazon Blitz

Christopher and I are absolutely FLOORED by the devotion and generosity of our readers. In an attempt to kick of the release of Curse of the Spider King, we launched the first annual Amazon Blitz, asking readers if they were planning to purchase SK anyway to purchase on the same day (Oct. 7th) and drive up the Amazon Sales Rank Number. Now, we knew it would be good because our readers have always blessed us silly. But 70,000+ places good? Yup. CotSK's sales rank climbed from 70,617th to 449th in less than one day. It remained under 3,000 for three days and under 20 for seven days. For that kind of effort, we say thank you. We're honored.

Item #2: The Silver Moonbeam Award

Curse of the Spider King releases nationwide November 3rd, so Christopher and I were absolutely shocked to learn that our cowritten book was reviewed and awarded the Silver Moonbeam for Young Adult Fantasy Fiction. Click Here to see all the winners including a BRONZE for the Miller Brothers, YESSS!!

Item #3: Curse of the Spider King Audio!

For the first time ever, one of my books has been made into an audio book. Voiced by the incredibly talented Greg Whalen (Disney, Veggie Tales, etc) and produced by the audio wizards at Oasis, CotSK is done right. I listened to the first chapter today and practically jumped around my classroom. Mr. Whalen just nailed the voices of some of our main characters. You can listen to the first chapter of the audio book by clicking HERE.

Item #4: Webcast with the Miller Brothers!

I had the spectacular opportunity to be live with author's Chris and Alan Miller (Hunter Brown) tonight on their weekly webcast. 174 viewers joined us. It was a great time to talk author stuff, book stuff, and writing. If you'd like to listen in, click HERE.

Item #5: Spider King Releases in Maryland!

Christopher Hopper is on his way to Maryland. He and I will be officially releasing Spider King to fans this Friday and Saturday. Barnes & Noble Long Gate Shopping Center on Friday Night (6:30-close) and then His Way Christian Books Ellicott City on Saturday, 6-close. There will be swordfights, ridiculous banter, dramatic readings, music, contests, games, prizes, and a giant spider named "George." If you live within three states of Maryland, come on down. You will not want to miss this!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Blitz Rolls On! We've Broken 1000!

Click on the picture above!
Check out the Amazon sales ranking.
As of 7pm EST, Curse of the Spider King is #994 #635
down from 70,617 this morning!

Folks we are doing this. Every purchase counts. We could break 100. God is good. Should He choose to bless, we could break into the Top 25!

If you'd like to get in on the Blitz, purchase Curse of the Spider King, and get FREE Bookplate Stickers signed by both authors, click the link below!

Today is the Day! Time for the Curse of the Spider King Amazon Blitz!

Today is the day!
October 7th
Now is the time! 

If you are planning to purchase Curse of the Spider King, would you consider preordering from Amazon TODAY, Wednesday, Oct. 7th? We are trying to get Spider King to climb (pun intended) high on the Amazon Bestseller List. 

Free signed bookplates for all who purchase Spider King on this day. Plus: If you're in on the Tribebuilding Contest, you get mega points for ordering on this day. Multiple copies count! lol

Please reply to this post if you "Blitzed Amazon" and purchased a copy of Curse of the Spider King today! And, if you get a chance, see what Curse of the Spider King's Sales Rank is up to and POST IT here on this thread.

As of 10pm on Oct. 6th (Blitz Eve), the ranking for CotSK was as you see below. 
Well done, so far you've helped CotSK increase its ranking: 59,165 places!!! Now it's at 10,947!
Correction, now it's at 2,217! AMAZING! 
Correction, as of 3pm EST, it's at 1,727! Spectacular! Come on folks, pour it on! 
This is getting crazy. The # is dropping by the hour. It's 5pm EST, and the number is now down to 1,426! People are emailing me with receipts of 3, 4, 5, even 8 book purchases! You are very generous and dedicated to jump in with both feet like this! 

And thank you so much for supporting us on this adventure. All glory goes to Jesus. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Tomorrow is the Day!! Let's Blitz Amazon!

Wednesday, October 7th

If you are planning to purchase Curse of the Spider King, would you consider preordering from Amazon on Wednesday, Oct. 7th? We are trying to get Spider King to climb (pun intended) high on the Amazon Bestseller List. Free signed bookplates for all who purchase Spider King on this day. Plus: If you're in on the Tribebuilding Contest, you get mega points for ordering on this day. Multiple copies count! lol

Monday, September 28, 2009

Upcoming Events--Mark Your Calendar!

There are Several Curse of the Spider King Events Coming Up!
Please Mark Your Calendars 

Wednesday, October 7th

If you are planning to purchase Curse of the Spider King, would you consider preordering from Amazon on Wednesday, Oct. 7th? We are trying to get Spider King to climb (pun intended) high on the Amazon Bestseller List. Free signed bookplates for all who purchase Spider King on this day. Plus: If you're in on the Tribebuilding Contest, you get mega points for ordering on this day. Multiple copies count! lol

Friday, October 16th

† Christopher Hopper and I visit Liberty Christian School in Owings Mills, MD from 8:30-11am.

† Christopher Hopper and I visit Grace Christian School in Owings Mills, MD from 12:30-3:00pm. 

† Huge Release Party #1: Barnes & Noble, Ellicott City, MD.
Swordfighting, Music, Booksigning, Contests, and PRE-release copies of Curse of the Spider King available! 6:30-close.  

Saturday, October 17th

† Huge Release Party #2: His Way Christian Bookstore, Ellicott City, MD. Swordfighting, Music, Booksigning, Contests, and PRE-release copies of Curse of the Spider King available! 6:30-close.

Friday, October 30th

† Christopher Hopper and I visit Indian River Middle School in Upstate, NY from Time TBA.

† Huge Release Party #3: Borders, Salmon Run Mall, Watertown, NY. Swordfighting, Music, Booksigning, Contests, and PRE-release copies of Curse of the Spider King available! Time 4-7.  

Saturday, October 31th

† Huge Release Party #3: Barnes & Noble, Pittsford, NY.
Swordfighting, Music, Booksigning, Contests, and PRE-release copies of Curse of the Spider King available! Time 2-5.

(More to Come. Stay Tuned) 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour, Day 2: All about the Vanishing Sculptor

The above review and teaser summary came from CrossWayz reviews, an awesome one-stop-review shop for all books that honor God and light a fire for the faithful. I agree wholeheartedly with their take on The Vanishing Sculptor.

Donita K. Paul and I have been friends for a while now. So when she inquired as to whether I would read her new book, The Vanishing Sculptor, I jumped at the chance. Here's my review blurb below: 

“Have you ever looked at a painting from a distance and thought it beautiful, only to draw nearer to it and realize it was more exquisite, complex, and wonderful than you ever imagined? The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul is like that. I began reading and liked it. As usual, I found myself happily enveloped in a vivid world full of emerlindians, tumanhofers, and dragons. But then, just when I thought the work was beautiful, something deep within me started to tingle…and I began to see that The Vanishing Sculptor was far more than simple entertainment or escape. I had one ‘Ah Ha!’ moment after another. Clues everywhere, right in front of my eyes, blossomed into truth until, at last, I put down the book and swam in the rich waters of adventure, peace, and blessed melancholy–that rare state revealing you’ve been touched by the story of an inspired author. The Vanishing Sculptor is sure to be loved by readers and re-readers of every age.”

Uhm...what are you waiting for? Click the link to the right in my sidebar. Get the book…and prepare to be immersed by a wonderful tale.

Monday, September 21, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour Day 1: Meet Donita K. Paul and Find the Vanishing Sculptor...if you dare!

Meet the Author: 

Today we begin this month's Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour for Donita K. Paul's new novel, The Vanishing Sculptor. If you're willing to take my word for it, don't wait for the Blog tour to end, get The Vanishing Sculptor now. Just click the link at right in my sidebar. And now, a little bit about the author.

Donita K. Paul retired early from teaching school, but soon got bored! The result: a determination to start a new career. Now she is an award-winning novelist writing Christian Romance and Fantasy. She says, “I feel blessed to be doing what I like best.”  

She mentors all ages, teaching teenagers and weekly adult writing workshops. God must have imprinted 'teacher' on me clear down to the bone. I taught in public school, then home schooled my children, and worked in private schools. Now my writing week isn’t very productive unless I include some time with kids.” Her two grown children make her proud, and her two grandsons make her laugh.

Donita has a testimony that might resonate with you. Check out what Donita says:

I thought I was a Christian. I’m definitely not Jewish. Not Muslim or Hindu. I’m an American. I was raised in the church. I started teaching Sunday school when I was thirteen. That’s right. Thirteen So when I reached twenty-five, and someone asked me if I was aChristian, I said, “Of course.” By the way, as far as I can remember, that was the very first time anyone had asked me. I must have looked as much like a Christian to those around me as I looked like a Christian to myself.

But it irked me that he had asked. So I decided to show him. I left my Bible open so he would see it in my living room. See? I had a Bible. That means I’m a Christian, right? Then I took to turning the pages so he could see I was actually reading it. I wasn’t, but that didn’t make any difference to me. Uh-oh! You and I (the "I" referring to me as a Christian now) know that’s a surefire sign I wasn’t a Christian.

He didn’t seem to be noticing the open Bible and turned pages, so I read enough in the New Testament to formulate an intelligent question to discuss. I did try the Old Testament, but it was too confusing. (Couldn’t even come up with a decent thought generated from that reading.) So we discussed. I read. We discussed some more. I read some more. BINGO! Sometime during my attempts to convince this guy I was a Christian, the message sunk in, and I became one. 

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)

I've known Donita for a couple of years now, mostly online correspondence, but also from the West Coast Tour. She's one of a kind. At times, a grandmother, at times a mysterious sage, and sometimes, as cantankerous as the dragons she writes about! But one anecdote I'd like to share about Donita that will give you a good idea what she's really all about.

During the Fantasy Fiction West Coast Tour, Donita and Christopher were scheduled to do a great TV interview on Fresno's Good Morning Show. When Donita discovered that the interview was going to cut into our time at the children's hospital. Donita chose to give up her interview spot. I was the fortunate one to take her place. I asked her why. She said it was simple: "Interview versus talking with sick children. No contest." Need you know anything more?

Please check out Donita's righteous Fantasy Stories:

Donita's Dragonkeeper Series!

Tune in tomorrow for my review of Donita's newest novel, The Vanishing Sculptor!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cures for Writer's Block

About Writer's Block...

A young writer asked me what to do about writer's block. I've posted on this before, but maybe you're finding yourself stuck right now. Hope these suggestions help.

1. Make sure you've been getting enough sleep and aren't wired up on caffeine. Often lack of ideas is the direct result of a too-tired mind or one that is over stimulated.

2. Try outlining. Seat of the pants writers, God bless 'em, are great but much more likely to get blocked because they simply have no idea what will come next. Take a day, a week, a month and do nothing but outline the major actions of the movie. Then, when you go to produce the manuscript, BAM, you've got the structure right there.

3. Do a "pride check." Often writers block is you being too much of a perfectionist you want it just right the first time. No chance. Let the story come, no matter how dumb it seems. That's what editing is for.

4. Do a "Lazy-Me-Check." Similar to trying to be to perfect is being too lazy to want to do several drafts, so you get too careful. In order to avoid the extra work, you go too slowly and get very annoyed when it's not just right. Again, let it come.

5. Get out of the Driver's Seat. The best stories are character driven, meaning the distinct and colorful personalities of your characters should dictate which way the story should go. If you're having too much trouble deciding what should happen next, take a break and write up some character profiles. Who are these people? I mean, REALLY, who are they? Go deep. What's their life story? What scares them? How have they hurt in the past? Who do they like, not like, trust, distrust, etc.

6. Read in your genre. If you are writing a mystery, read mysteries. If fantasy, read my books. {ahem}. Seriously, immerse yourself in the genre and you'd be surprised what ideas pop into your mind. Plus, you get the added benefit of seeing what's out there being published so that you can do something original.

7. The best for last: Pray. I know not all the visitors here are Christian, but for those who are, pray and ask God to place some ideas in your mind. Lord, is there a story you want me to tell?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

How would you like a private book party?

Greetings from the Realm of Berinfell. Lately Christopher Hopper and I have been getting a lot of emails and blog posts from areas of the country we've not yet had a chance to tour or visit. Just in the past week, I've heard from several disgruntled Minnesotans who claim their lovely state always gets overlooked. I also heard from a young man in Alaska who was quite sad that he couldn't make it to any of our events.

Well, listen up folks. How would you like Christopher Hopper and I to fly out to your hometown to do a private book signing party for you and your friends and family? This, of course, would include lots of Curse of the Spider King freebies, dramatic readings, swordbattles, music, and more. Sound good to you? Post here and let us know about it. Christopher Hopper and I are putting the finishing touches on a new contest, and the personal book party is one of the grand prizes. Stay tuned for the official announcement soon.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Mark Your Calendars: October 7th Amazon Blitz! And Book Release Parties Announced!

Hi, all! The immediate threat has passed, so I thought I'd take a moment to announce a new promotional contest. You may or may not know that the first month's sales of a new book can make or break a book long term. Publishers look at those first month numbers and make decisions on how much marketing and advertising they are willing to do for the book.--including placement in bookstores. The bookstores themselves also make decisions based on those number, perhaps even as soon as a couple of weeks worth of sales have been reported.

So, Christopher and I are asking, if you are planning to order Curse of the Spider King from Amazon anyway, please consider ordering on October 7th. Your order that day will drive Curse of the Spider King higher and higher up Amazon's bestseller list...which, in turn, will allow TONS of other people to see the book on the bestseller list. And that...leads to new sales. ;-)

For anyone who orders that day and emails me the Amazon receipt, I'll send you an Official Curse of the Spider King Bookplate Sticker signed by Christopher Hopper and by me! To order, you can click my Curse of the Spider King Amazon ad on my sidebar or go directly to Amazon.

Christopher Hopper
and Wayne Thomas Batson are planning a series of huge release parties for Curse of the Spider King. The book isn't supposed to be in stores until November, but we've arranged to get copies available for four HUGE events--two in upstate NY and two in Maryland.

What to expect? Sword battles, dramatic readings, music, prizes, giant spiders, and much more!

Here are the dates and times:

In Maryland

Friday, October 16th: Barnes & Noble, Long Gate Shopping Center, Ellicott City Maryland. Time: 6:30 to Close.

Saturday, October 17th: His Way Bookstore, Ellicott City, Maryland. Time: 6 to close.
(410) 465-7546

In New York State:

Friday, October 30th: Borders Books, Watertown, New York. Time: 4pm to 7pm.
(315) 779-0006

Saturday, October 31st (Special Halloween Creepy Signing), Barnes and Noble, Pittsford (Near Rochester) New York. Time: 2pm--5pm.
(585) 586-6020

Even if you can't make it, tell friends and family who might be able to come. We want to blow the doors off these stores!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Something terrible has happened. Help needed.

I cannot go into detail at this time, but I've found myself in the middle of something very serious. And I am deathly afraid that I may never find my way out again. Something terrible has happened, but next to what's coming...what I witnessed was nothing. It has begun.

It is extremely dangerous even to hint at this in an open forum such as a blog. For those who would risk getting involved, I have left a handful of clues. Only those who dare, those with great faith will find the first step. The rabbit hole is open.

...I will say no more.

Monday, August 24, 2009

So many little time. Christopher Hopper and I have just opened the doors to our new Berinfell Prophecies forum. It's called The Underground.

There you'll find information about the first book in the series: Curse of the Spider King, due out in October.

Click over and sign up. Very soon, the first clue will appear…and things will get very interesting.

Heh, heh, heh.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Time for More Random Thoughts

Quite possibly the most popular blog post here ever was a bunch of meandering random thoughts. I asked people to respond with their own inane ponderings. So, here's what's been on my mind:

1. I can't believe the summer's almost over.
2. My classroom needs a LOT of work.
3. I really want to see District 9.
4. If the best things in life are free, why does chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cost something?
5. My cat Jingle is really fuzzy.
6. I need to write more of my next book, so why am I doing this?
7. The Surreau family rocks.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The CONTINUING evolution of Evolution...

How convenient it must be to be an evolutionary biologist. Ignore the obvious. Look for an alternative. Invent a theory. Then, no matter how much evidence to the contrary, just retrofit your theory with each new discovery.

Forgive me folks. But the whole evolution/creation controversy just gets my blood boiling. Surfing Yahoo this morning, I found this interesting story, and it just kind of stirred my thoughts a bit. Here's an excerpt from what I read:

"Moreover, we found smectite in only some locations in South China, and not uniformly as one would expect for marine deposits," Bristow said. "Taken together, several lines of evidence indicated to us that these early animals lived in a lake environment."

This discovery raises questions as to how and why animals appeared when they did.

"It is most unexpected that these first fossils do not come from marine sediments," said researcher Martin Kennedy, a geologist at the University of California at Riverside.

"Lakes are typically short-lived features on the Earth's surface, and they are not nearly as consistent environments as oceans are," he explained. "So it's surprising that the first evidence of animals we find is associated with lakes, which are far more variable environments than the ocean. You'd expect the first appearance of animals to be in the most conservative, stable environments we could imagine."

It remains possible, Kennedy noted, that animal fossils of similar or older age exist that remain to be found that are marine in origin. However, at the very least, this work suggests "that animals had already taken on the ability to deal with the environmental fluctuations one sees in lake environments," he said. "That suggests that their evolutionary response is much more rapid that I would have supposed, and that the earliest animals were far more diverse than imagined."

Hmmm…whaddaya know? The earliest animals were far more diverse {read complete} than imagined. Note the key word: imagined. You see that's what evolutionists since Darwin have done…they imagine an explanation, pretend it is fact, and ignore the obvious. Wow, the reptilian back bone is awfully similar to the avian back bone. Huh, must be evolved from one another. Forget the fact that both species still exist at the same time. Look at the human fetus at its earliest stages. Wow, it sure looks like a fish. We must be evolved from marine life.

The Yahoo article just goes to show that science does NOT know it all. Things keep inconveniently being discovered that mess with their theories. Think about some of the evolutionary claims over time. Darwin himself believed that the fossil record MUST have evidence of transitional forms, that is millions of gradual changes between on species to the next. Darwin was bedeviled by the lack of these transitional forms, but hoped that future discoveries would bear out his theory. Well, a century later: {Game Show Wrong Answer Buzzer} Sorry Darwin, thanks for playing. We have some swell consolation prizes for you backstage! The fossil record is void of transitional forms. What we see are fully formed species suddenly "appearing." You'd think that perhaps, that would have done evolution in. Nope, it was just too good of an "out" from the whole "God made us and might have a claim on our lives" idea. So what did evolutionary scientists do? They propose the theory of punctuated equilibrium. Basically, evolution doesn't really happen in a long, drawn out process like they thought. No, instead, it happens in dynamic bursts. WHOOSH! And then it goes cold and slow again. Yeah, that's the ticket.

As I've said in the past, isn't it possible that maybe, just maybe the reason that living organisms share so many common traits is that the same Artist created them? After all, you can look at a series of paintings and tell if they are Monet versus Dali. And how? By the traits they share in common. You do not look at one painting and conclude that the other evolved from it. That would be nonsense.

I remember sitting in an anthropology class at the University of Maryland as an undergrad and hearing the Prof spout on about evolution as a fact. Drawings, animations, a fossil here and there, and the Prof just concluded for all of us: you are descended from apes. You are a genetic accident…having arrived by a miraculous chain of random events. Oops, I said "miraculous." Thing is, I wasn't even a Christian at the time, and I remember thinking, "That's ridiculous! Look at all the frauds from Pilt Down Man to Nebraska Man to Haekel's Drawings! How can I trust this stuff?"

Now I know why we cannot trust this stuff. It's just not true. The most powerful evidence supporting evolution is "Imaginary Evidence." Theory built upon theory, built upon theory.

You are not a galactic accident. A knowing, loving Creator made you. He designed you with great care and has put purpose in your life.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Behind the Scenes Part 2: Drafting

Welcome to Behind the Scenes, Part 2. As you know, Author Christopher Hopper and I are working on a new fantasy series called The Berinfell Prophecies. Book 1: Curse of the Spider King is finished and will be out in stores Oct. 15th, or so I was told most recently. Now, we're working on the second book in the series.

Today, we're going to look into the drafting process. In other words, now that we've got an outline, a blueprint of where we're going with the story, we need to write out our very first draft, the ROUGH draft. I need to emphasize rough because to many would-be authors try to skip steps in the writing process by being too careful during that first draft. We agonize over the right word or right name; we stare at one paragraph trying for the most righteous turn of the phrase; or perhaps we labor over dialogue to get it "just right." Can I lift a burden from your shoulders? Don't do it that way. You will only frustrate yourself and slow yourself down.

For the rough draft, you just need to get those ideas down. Don't worry about spelling, grammar, word choice, colorful verbs, etc. etc. {Gag} Just write. Think of it this way: Suppose you have 2 hours to write today. You can either take your outline and run with it, ignoring the impulse to agonize over "just the right word" and finish two hours later with seven pages of content. OR, you can try to draft, revise, edit, proofread, and redraft--ALL in one step. In the end you will have a beautiful piece of prose...perfect even. But, it'll be one paragraph. Hmmm...

Another thing to think about is the importance of creative momentum. Your mind is a complex thing. Story comes flowing out of it, one thought leading to another and then another. Sometimes, you have to write several pages before something really REALLY cool comes along. Suppose, however, you are stop-start, stop-starting all over the place, trying to make it perfect in one may never get to that great idea that's lurking around the corner…if you could just get past yourself and get to the next page of content.

For Christopher and I, coauthoring a book means we need to talk logistics: what scene are you going to do? Where do you see that falling in the narrative? See the below capture of our iChat.

Once we've figured out who's writing what scenes, we draft the scenes. Our "system," if you can call it that, is to each write our rough drafts of 2-3 chapters. Then, we send it to the other for revising. We give each other TOTAL permission to make any changes we want--without using the "Track Changes" feature. In this way, we develop "OUR" voice rather than his and mine. After we revise the other's scenes, we send them back to the original author for "final" revisions. During this time, the original author may change some things back or alter things additionally. To us, it just doesn't matter. It can't matter. See below for an example of a section of Christopher's writing that I've "purple penned." I like to lay down on the bed with hard copies of the work and go to town on it with pen. Then, I hit the computer and make my changes.

See below two iChat conversations between Christopher and I. These are actually well prior to Spider King. Christopher was working on Book 3 of the White Lion Chronicles: Athera's Dawn and I was working on Book 1 of The Dark Sea Annals: Sword in the Stars. (Both Books Due out in 2010).

Reason I show these two is that they exemplify the benefit of having someone to bounce ideas off of: each one of us has some wisdom or experience that the other can learn. We teach each other and learn from each other. And guess what, it's also so much fun that it should be illegal. :-)

Part Three will be up in a few weeks.

Never alone.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I found TREASURE on YouTube

Okay, so I admit it: I occasionally Google my books. Just a little. Okay…more than I should. Sometimes even when I should be writing.

Well, tonight's search turned up gold. You have GOT to see these two videos I found on YouTube. I was absolutely rolling as I watched these. Check 'em out!

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What's in a name?

Hi, all! Quick post here. Curse of the Spider King is finished. It releases in October. Now Christopher and I are on to the second book in the series. But this time, our time constraints have made it so that we actually have to title the book before it is finished.

SO, I turn to you. We've outlined the book and know where it's going. So from that, we've come up with two possible book titles. See the poll at the top of the sidebar. The candidates are:

The Berinfell Prophecies, Book 2: Fall of the Seven


The Berinfell Prophecies, Book 2: Venom and Song

Which do you like and why?

Oh, and thanks!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Writing and Publishing: Behind the Scenes, Part 1

Welcome to BTS, part one, the first segment where I'll take you behind the curtain to see what goes into inventing, writing, editing, and publishing a novel. Keep in mind: you haven't read Berinfell Prophecies Book 1: Curse of the Spider King, and this series of blog posts will delve into the creation of Book 2. Therefore, I'll have to leave many details concerning plot elements extremely vague. It's the process we're after, not spoilers, right?

Christopher Hopper is the CoAuthor of this series, and we are quite literally right at the beginning of the book. Today, it was all about inventing. We left several key threads dangling at the end of Spider King, so we began with those. What you see below is an iChat window. We began our session of brainstorming and outlining with iChat, but quickly realized we needed speed.

So, we used iChat's phone feature. That way, we could talk and hear each other while we worked. The window you see below is the speak function of iChat. So what'd we talk about? Chapter one.

Whenever I give advice to young writers and aspiring authors, I tell them to work exhaustively on chapter one. It may be the only chapter an agent or publisher looks at, so make it good. You really have to hook the reader. Action, Drama, Intense Emotion, Mystery, Danger--all good for opening chapters. Dialogue is good if it really gets us into a character or in the midst of a relationship between characters.
What to avoid:
1. Lots of narration
2. Lots of description
3. Dream sequences
4. Alarm clocks
5. Too many characters

Christopher and I left book 1 with several main characters making a important journey. However, as much as we'd like to spend pages describing the cool sights of this amazing fantasy world we're creating--they journeyed here, saw that, journeyed there, saw that--we knew that it's a snoozer of an opening. We ended up deciding on fast-forwarding to a battle scene, and not only that, but an ambush. Nothing says lovin' like a sneak attack! lol

The opening chapter decided on, we decided to "Begin with the end in mind." We had some thoughts of how Book 2 would end, so we brainstormed and fleshed that out a little. And it was here that we came to a bit of a road block. Our publisher has contracted with us for two books in the series, but we feel like it could go to a 3rd book, maybe 4. So the question became: How do we give a satisfying ending that still leaves some threads open for future books? Good question. First, we tackled the satisfying ending part. This means that any promises you made to readers need to be fulfilled. For example: If you hint that the treasure-greedy pirate will be betrayed by his own greed, then you'd better have it happen or readers will be peeved. Christopher and I are big fans of foreshadowing. We've dropped some very interesting breadcrumbs in book one that will become HUGELY important in book 2. So, we had to think of ways for these loose ends to connect to something very fun and interesting. In the end, we decided that we could end the climactic battle with the appearance of a new threat, one whose very nature would render him/her/it more perilous than anything readers have seen.

Now, we had the beginning and the end and lots of questions in between. What you see above is the file menu of Scrivener, our favorite all-powerful writing software. It absolutely rocks. Take a look at the way we set up our files. Under "draft" you see the outline in progress...just working chapter titles for now. Beneath that are our resource files. This is a whole fantasy world we're working on, so we've got Language Files, Bestiary, Geography, even a file for scenes that are so cool they have to be in the book....but uhm, we're not sure where yet. lol

After outlining for several hours, Christopher and I chose scenes. That is, there were several segments we each felt visually attached to. Christopher really wanted to tackle the opening battle scene. I, however, wanted to hit the relationships and a mounting internal conflict that needs to arise a bit later in the story. You might be thinking, but how can you do that? You don't know exactly what the other person is writing! That's somewhat true. I have an idea of what Christopher will put into the segment he's doing. But I don't need to be too concerned. It's kind of like connect the dots. My latter chapters might be a bit far away from Christopher's earlier chapters. But that's okay. The differences between them will suggest where we go on the chapters that fall in between.

That's a good tip for those of you who struggle with Writer's Block. Sometimes you just get stuck somewhere around chapter 8. Now, you've got a killer idea for chapter 17, but you don't go after it because you figure, you've got to go in order. NO. You don't. Write whatever scene is hot in your mind. Sometimes that latter scene will unblock the issue earlier on. And no matter what, the chapter that feels like fun will be better than the chapter that feels like a chore.

More to come in the following weeks. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Blog Series: Writing and Publishing a Novel--Behind the Scenes

When I was little, the first three Star Wars movies came out and blew everyone away. The special effects of Lucas' ILM took us places we never thought possible. And whenever one of those "The Making of..." programs came on, I was one of those geeked-out fans who watched with rapt attention. I can still remember watching how they filmed the X-Wing Fighter chase through the Death Star channel. COOL.

Even now, I absolutely love watching all the extra material on DVD's. I count The Lord of the Rings Extended Version Bonus DVDs among my most cherished treasures. lol. So I got to thinking that so many visitors to Enter the Door Within have tons of questions about writing and publishing. What if I take you behind the scenes?

Christopher Hopper and I have finished Curse of the Spider King. We're getting ready to hit the sequel now. So for the next series of posts, I will literally show you the nuts and bolts of how a novel comes together. From invention to editing, polishing to publishing--you'll see how it gets done. So tune in! You might even get a few sneak peeks at the new book. ;-)