Monday, July 23, 2007

Fearless - A Study in Ambiguity

One day someone offers you a ring that will give you superpowers. However, you have to leave your old life behind totally. Later you discover that the one's offering you that "gift" may be part of an evil organization who have their designs on how you use those powers.

That's the premise of Robin Parrish's
Fearless. The main character, Grant Borrows, is the grandson of one of the members of this secret and possibly evil organization. Grant is chosen to be "The Bringer," but isn't told what he is to bring. Grant joins with several other ringbearers as part of a looseknit organization which becomes a type of "league of superheros" who help out in various places where disaster strikes. And disaster strikes way too often in these difficult days.

Fearless is an action packed adventure ride that never stops. The action begins in the first chapter and continues right to the cliffhanger ending. Be forewarned, if you read this book, you will want to read the next in the series which won't be out until next summer.

The action is great, but the characters make this story. They are varied and complex. Take Payton, for instance, he seems to be working for both sides. Eventually, he comes over to the lighter side, but he brings dark ways with him. His bloodlust doesn't mesh well with the moral high ground taken by "the loci." However, in a disturbing, yet unfortunately, realistic way, at times it is overlooked (hopefully temporarily) in pursuit of "the greater good."

This ambiguity permeates the book. Grant uses his powers for good, but he ends up bringing destruction by accident. He is fighting against the "Secretum," an evil society dating back seven millennia, but he is the one they believe will bring about the culmination of their plans.

In fact, the loci itself reflects this tension. They are given rings of power by a potentially evil group, yet they try to do good with this power. This raises the eternal philosophical question can one do good using the tools of evil without negative consequences. It is almost Faustian. Faust seeks knowledge, but sells his soul for it. And when a flame leaps up in front of him, Mephistopheles observes, "You are bosom friends with the devil, yet you shrink from the flame."

Of course, the power may be neutral. Like fire, it might be used to cook dinner or burn down the house. This ambiguity gives an added dimension to the story making one hungry for the next book which will hopefully answer those questions.

My only criticism of the book is that it almost moves too fast for my tastes. You end up feeling almost breathless. Breaking up the major action scenes with some character development ones would be more to my taste. But on balance, I found the book to be enjoyable, thought provoking and a fine addition to my personal library.

You can read more about the author at his website and his blog. You can order the book here.

Read what others are saying about this book at the following blogs:

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Merrie Destefano
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Russell Griffith
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Robin Parrish
Lyn Perry
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver

Monday, July 9, 2007

Frank Creed is Scheduled Guest in Wayfarer Journal Chats

We have a special guest for our WJ chats this month. Frank Creed, founder of the Lost Genre Guild, and my inspiration for developing Wayfarers Journal will be our featured guest discussing his novel Flashpoint . The theme will be "If Jesus had an army..." and will discuss the use of violence in Christian action fiction. Creed makes extensive use of non-lethal weapons in his stories and will discuss his philosophy behind that. It should be a lively discussion.

Frank will be in both my Second Life chat (Terri Marathon's Town Hall) Tuesday July 10 at 7 p.m. PDT and my traditional chat at Wayfarers Journal ( Tuesday July 17 at 7 p.m. PDT.

If you want to take part in the Second Life chat, you have to set up an account at and download the software. Once you have signed up simply use this URL to launch the software and go to my place:

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Formatting Manuscripts: How to Create an Editor Friendly MS

Okay, I know you saw that title and thought, "Oh, brother, that's about as interesting as watching grass grow." I don't doubt that it is, but even head-in-the-clouds science fiction writers must come down to earth once in awhile and deal with the reality of the business of writing. Part of that business is creating an editor friendly manuscript.

I have to admit that as a freelance writer, the last thought on my mind was how to format a manuscript. Fortunately, I had been well trained, and, even though it was the last thing on my mind, it was on my mind. Sorry to say, as an editor, I find that it isn't even considered by many competent writers.

In some ways, as much as I love online communication, the internet has compromised professionalism. I have college students send me emails about academic matters that read like a chat room transcript or a text message. For instance: "Ms. Main, I need 411 on the BR how about this book. My VBF Erica says it's great." I think I need my Wonder Woman decoder ring to decrypt the message.

I think a similar lack of formality finds its way into communication with editors. Some people assume that since they sent the manuscript as an attachment to an email, that the editor has their contact information. Here's the problem with that assumption. I doubt I'm much different than most editors. When I get a submission, I download the attachment to a "stories to be read" file. The email stays in the inbox. When I get a chance to read the story, there is no connection between it and the email. So, I have to do a search of my inbox to find the story. That's 10 minutes of time I could have spent reading another story or writing an acceptance or rejection letter. In other words that writer has stolen 10 minutes of my time that I will never get back. And at my age, I don't have that many minutes to waste. Okay, none of us do.

So, what does and editor friendly format look like? Well, a good format is shown below. Of course, you should always check the guidelines for a particular publication for any special formatting instructions those publications might have.