Friday, December 14, 2007

An "Atta-Boy"

Excerpt from a new review of Light at the Edge of Darkness at Dancing Word Review.

"I like to pick up the occasional collection from time to time, to see if there are any exceptional writers coming up over the literary horizon.

* * *

I mentioned that I was looking for new talent. Three particular authors: Frank Creed, Andrea Graham, and Stephen L. Rice (whose Pratchett-like At the Mountains of Lunacy makes it worthwhile to purchase the entire collection) shine like beacons in this anthology. If you decide to borrow this book from a friend, make sure you read the last six short stories, because it looks like the editor really did save the best for last."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Who Can Judge the Judge?

Romans 8:28

But, why does God allow bad things to happen? is a question that I have had to field ever since May ninth of 1998. There I was, traveling down a quiet Indiana county road, running errands while at the same time a little sports car in oncoming traffic attempted to pass a tractor-trailer and two cars. My first instinct was to veer onto the shoulder and cede my lane. Unfortunately, the other driver panicked and swerved in an attempt to leave the roadway also. According to the traffic analyst, the resulting head-on collision impacted at a minimum of 110/mph.

“The last time I saw a human body in that condition,” my father observed, “was during my two tours of duty in Vietnam.” My pelvis and left hip were shattered, my right hip dislocated, my right foot crushed, and my sacrum (the bone shared by the spine and the pelvis), broken. One laceration allowed me look through a closed eyelid, and another split my lower lip down to the chin. I, of course, was taken to the local hospital, but the magnitude of the injuries was so severe that I was Life-Lined to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. My limbs protruded at such grotesque angles that the paramedics had difficulty loading my body through the door of the helicopter.

The protective fail-safes that He designed into the human body amaze me. Mercifully, I have no recollection of the above events. As if my broken body wasn’t enough, I also sustained a closed-head injury.

In plain language, this means my head really is that thick—the alternative would have been a fractured skull! My concussed and swelling brain had nowhere to go and the pressure intensified within the brain pan.

After two weeks of living in a delusional dream-state, of which I have but a few bizarre memories, the doctors reached a prognosis: after eighteen months of intensive therapy I'd be able to, believe it or not, walk and feed myself again! The best-case scenario was a 60% recovery of my mental capacity. At the very moment this diagnosis was being communicated to my family, my pastor walked by, and entered my room. Amazingly for the first time in weeks, I was able to have a completely lucid conversation. I recall his visit and our closing in prayer, but no details. I fell asleep after he left and when I awoke next, I looked around and asked, "Why am I in the hospital?"

I do suffer from some short-term memory loss and other common closed-head injury symptoms, but despite the medical prognosis, my abilities to reason, communicate and conduct my affairs are seemingly as functional as they ever were! The feet of implanted surgical-steel chain links and screws that knit my hip and pelvis together are, I'm told, irreplaceable and have an expected useful life-span of twenty years. Without serious advances in medical technology, I’m likely doomed to a wheelchair in another dozen years. But I've come to learn that doctors don't know everything and they definitely do not excel at playing God.

I returned to my job at Subaru of Indiana Automotive in less than six-months, but I write this on a day when I am home from work because of the weather’s painful affect on my osteo-arthritis and bursitis. I'm severely challenged in my capacity as an autoworker.

Several times a year I’m asked the rhetorical question about why He allows events like these to occur. What good could come from so tragic a tale? Well, it seems that God had a bigger plan for me and He expedited many new and positive things in my life. Ever since youth I have enjoyed writing and I aspired to be a novelist. Four years prior to this accident, I began my fantasy novella, White Iron, but the story always seemed to meander and jam. For some reason, post-accident, everything flows! Furthermore, had the accident not occurred I'd have never met my wife and editor, Cynthia. And certainly, I’d not be launching my career as a novelist in 2006.

With the life span of my artificial body parts, He has forced my hand in finding gainful employment that does not rely on my physical abilities—beyond a twelfth grade education I am only self-educated and qualify for little white collar work. I really feel that He has moved my life along in this direction to urge me to invest the talents He has provided, to His glory.

In addition, I‘m not presumptuous enough to guess at how He has and will use my experience to affect those who have witnessed my healing. Eight years later, people still recall and refer to the event. I can only wonder at the number of people who have heard of my miracle, and how it has affected their own lives. I am merely called in faith to trust that His wisdom will glean the greater good from tragedy.

Whenever I hear skeptics scoff at Biblical answers to Why does He allow suffering? my soul smiles in sadness at their shortsightedness. In our terrestrial larval forms, who can judge the Judge?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Latest in Spec Christmas Issue

Our friends at Latest in Spec have a monthly newsletter devoted to the Christian speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror written from a Christian worldview) scene. Regular issues contain links to reviews, interviews, book signings and author events, book releases, blogs and websites, contests, etc.

However, this month they've outdone themselves! The Christmas issue is a beautiful listing of 2007 releases. Talk about a nice helper for Christmas present buying! Each featured novel is accompanied by a short summary, book cover and links for purchasing. Easy Peasy (yes, Flashpoint: Book One of the Underground is included, so I am biased :).

Check it out today!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

December Issue of the UNDERGROUND now available

Subscriber Polly Harris described the UNDERGROUND newsletter: "This is probably the best newsletter I've ever read."

The December 2007 issue of Frank Creed's free UNDERGROUND newsletter is now available.

Fiction contest every issue with publication of the top entries from September 07-September 08 in the year's Flashpoint fan fiction anthology.

Top three entries for the December o7 contest receive free manuscript evaluation services from The Finishers (critique/ substantive edit/ proofreading) for the short story entry.

What's in this issue?

Fiction Contest: New Year's Terror Alert!
Underground Member Spotlight: Karen McSpadden
Critique Corner: To ! or Not to !
News in Spec Fiction: Biz news from publisher TWCP -- "Speculative Fiction E-zines Feature"
Last Issue's Fiction Contest Winning Entry: "Bear Feat" by Stephen Rice
Casting Lots: Mike Roop talks about Role Playing Games
Frankly Speaking: Frank Creed discusses 21st Century BioEthics and Fiction

More information about the UNDERGROUND newsletter can be found at BOOKSOFTHEUNDERGROUND. COM including newsletter sign up -- it is easy (name and e-mail) and fast, oh yes, and free!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Light at the edge of Darkness: Day 7

Today, Light at the Edge of Darkness is being featured on Stormi D's blog: Mystery, Suspense, and God, Oh My!

For the blog, Cynthia MacKinnon, editor of TWCP, wrote an article about the genesis of the anthology -- and check out Daniel I Weaver's book trailer, S.L. Newman of Associated Content refers to it in his article “The Best Book Trailers on YouTube.” The Light at the Edge of Darkness book trailer has what may well be the catchiest catch phrase of the millennium; it fits the feel of the genres it represents perfectly.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Wow! Look What Jill Nelson Said!

Run on over and check out Stormi D's blog: Mystery, Suspense and God, Oh My!

She is hosting "The 12 Days of Christmas Books Extravaganza" where, for each of the first 12 days of December she features a different author.

Today, Day 3, she hosted Jill Elizabeth Nelson . . . and lo and behold, this is what Jill had to say:

In keeping with Stormi’s twelve days of Christmas theme, here are my top twelve reads of 2007 in no particular ranking order. Check them out.

Flashpoint by Frank Creed – An action-packed tale for anybody who’s hungered to read a superhero story from a Christian world view. This book will pique your imagination and stick with you long after you close the last page.

Wow! I am so honored Jill. Thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Little About How I Got Published

A friend of mine e-mailed this to me not that long ago. Since I get asked a lot, I thought I'd post the answers here. Enjoy!

Dear Sue,

Long time no write, right? I'm sorry to bother you, but you are one of the few people I know that has written a book and had it published with success. I joined NaNoWriMo this year and now surprisingly have about 26,000 words of my first book written! It's sort of a young adult/youth fantasy/adventure with a little bit of romance and some comedic relief thrown in for good measure. When thinking about what I'll do with it once it's written, I immediately thought of "Never Ceese". I was hoping that since your book was also loosely in the same genre, you'd be able to help answer some questions for me. :) I think I remember you saying that the publisher you went with was the first that you'd sent your manuscript to, right? Can you give me any information about their submission guidelines/contact info?

The publisher I ended up going with was in fact the first publisher who showed an interest in my "professionally edited with a 2% error rate" MS. I would give you their submission guidelines/contract info but they now only publish children's books. They were only trying to decide whether they would stick with YA when they brought me on board. Also is a wonderful resource for agents and publishers. Agents and publishers are broken out by genre and also even Christian or completely secular. This is where I found my first publisher and they were in fact listed as a Christian publisher, just not CBA. That of course turned out to be a very good thing! also has a thirty day free trial where you can search their database to find publishers who are accepting submissions. Publishers will also have their guidelines there as well.

Did your publisher need the full book submitted to consider or just the first few well polished chapters?

My publisher, based on my professional query/synopsis asked to see the entire MS which you need to have before submitting to publishers. If you're a debut novelist you absolutely must have the very best that you can offer. That means having it "professionally" edited and ready to go. Most ask for first few chapters and professional query/synopsis. Others just ask for the query/synopsis. Do a search on how to do a query/synopsis or pay someone to help you get it right. There actually is a right way to do one. I've heard authors say they sent a query/synopsis and then I read what they sent only to learn that they'd done nothing close to a query/synopsis. They held out key information about how the book ends. PUBLISHERS want to know everything. They want to know step by step how the story goes. You will spend a lot of time on your query/synopsis if you do it right!

Also, did you have to go through an agent or did you just contact them on your own? Do you have an agent now?

Tried to get an agent but a debut novelist will have very little success with this. It's sort of the, "I just got out of college and no one will hire me," syndrome. Approach it the same way. Get a small publisher (small job) first to prove yourself then you won't have to go looking for an agent, they'll come to you. Did I just say that! I think I did! If you're a writer and you do things this way, they will come to you! Better yet, you'll find publishers talking to you.

How about all your book signings and things, do you feel it's a must to guarantee the successful release of a book?

How else is anyone going to know who you are? The signings themselves will be a total bust but the advertisement on the web will get you exposure. No one will know that nobody showed up or that you only sold one book. Success depends on what you hope to achieve. If when I go to a book singing I sell ONE book. I've been successful. Depressed but successful. Ironically, the crowd starts to pick up a bit as you go along.

I'm really nervous about the idea of doing one and with my kids being so young, I don't think I'd want to travel without them much. Do you think that'd be a problem if I can actually get my book to the published phase?

My kids are part of the deal. I didn't take them to the WHC in Canada because I would've had to get them passports as well. I took them to Chattacon (had to leave because Reece got horribly carsick). I took them to Aiken . . . I take them if I can't find anyone to stay with them. I've not had to turn down anything yet. Mostly because I plan it all. I wouldn't have it any other way. My son is my best salesman. I can't leave without my best salesman.

I just hate the idea of finishing my first book and then being at a loss as to what to do with it next. :)

As soon as you finish your MS get it professionally edited. Not critiqued, professionally edited. And by an editor that knows what a publisher wants to see. Unless you don't care what a publisher wants to see. But then why would you be asking me all these questions? :) Check around and get a few sample edits. All edits should fall into the same price range otherwise something is horribly wrong. Most editors will tell you what level of editing your MS needs. You may not require a deep edit to get where you need to be. Don't be surprised if you do. The level of editing is based on how much work it will take to get your words the way a publisher needs to see them. To say one doesn't need a good professional edit on a debut novel is to say "I know everything," and you don't! A professional edit will cost you but it is worth every penny. It's the only reason I got picked up because while a small publisher will look at your work, it is a far better incentive when they see you've been edited. It's a quicker route to turning your work into a book.
And now onto a touchy subject, DON'T get an editor that edits for a specific market unless that's the ONLY market you want to appeal to. A good editor will tell you this though. :) Find someone who edits fantasy type novels if that's what your novel is.

Okay, I've rambled long enough.

Live long and prosper!

God Bless

Monday, November 26, 2007

Meet Stephen Rice

Stephen Rice has always enjoyed telling humorous and dramatic stories.

He has a B.A. (double major) in Linguistics and in Foreign Languages, and an M.A. in English (Professional Writing and Editing), both from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. His writing frequently involves someone with an interest in languages, and he has been known to invent languages for stories.

He writes mostly science fiction, with an emphasis on scientific and theological accuracy. (His motto is "Hard science, hard theology, easy reading.") He won't write a story he can't justify theologically.

His first novella was Galatea, a Tale of the Atonement, but the first story he started on was A World Apart, intended to be the first book of a YA sci-fi series. He tends more toward series at the moment, such as "Changelings," "The League of Superheroes," and "The False Dawn."

His current projects include "The League of Superheroes" origin series (he is now working on the fifth and final origin book, Genie Reborn) and several short stories.

Meet Susan Kirkland

Susan Kirkland is a novelist and award-winning journalist whose feature stories have been carried by newspapers nationwide. Born to parents who were avid readers and a father who served in the Air Force, she decided at age five become both a soldier and a writer. She enlisted in the Georgia Army National Guard at age 19 while attending North Georgia College and State University, the senior military college of Georgia. In her 10-year military career, she has served as a photojounalist as well as a broadcast journalist, covering the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and travelling to Italy to serve.

Her college career started out as a curious endeavor after reading Pat Conroy’s “The Lords of Discipline.” What she found it the halls of NGCSU was a fascinating culture of youthful idealism mixed with the reality of war during the post-Desert Storm period. She wanted to capture the spirit and strength she discovered in that unique and peculiar world of military colleges.

After graduating with a degree in English, she pursued a career in journalism, eventually finding herself at the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, Georgia. She rededicated her life to Christ in 1997 and in 2005 felt the Lord direct her to use her talents for Him.

Susan currently works for the Calhoun Times in Gordon County as the government writer. When she is not writing, she spends time with her husband, George, of 11 years and their five children. Her current novel, Higher Honor, is due for release summer 2008.

Meet Sue Dent

Sue Dent hails from Mississippi. She graduated from Mississippi College in 1983. Since graduating she’s sold computers, taught computer classes and has worked as a Technical Specialist IV for the Mississippi Department of Natural Resources.

Her first book Never Ceese was published in May of 2006. It has since been short-listed for a Bram Stoker Award in the category of Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Never Ceese was also voted book club choice for the month of April 2007 at the ACFW (American Christian Writers Association) and is up for Book of the Year.

This past March Sue was an invited guest of Nicholas Grabowsky to the World Horror Convention in Toronto Canada. Never Ceese will also be at Comic-Con 2007 in San Diego to be represented by Head Press Publishing.

Of her writing, which continues to successfully cross both Secular and Christian boundaries, Sue says, “Well, somebody had to do it. Might as well be me.”

Her much anticipated sequel Forever Richard is due out October 31st published by The Writers’ Café Press. As always, watch for updates.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Meet Frank Creed

Frank Creed is TWCP's most recently published author. Born and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago, Frank and his sisters were raised by a mother who instilled a love of reading and writing. He won his first award during highschool when his teacher entered him in the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Literary Contest: first place among hundreds of entries from three states. His award-winning debut novel, Flashpoint: Book One of the Underground was released October 2007.

Although Frank's ministry is his fiction, he didn't start out that way. Ten years ago he began his online ministry in an attempt to help his sister who had joined a grotto of Anton LaVey's Church of Satan. From there he formed his own discussion board, debated satanists and atheists, and offered help to those in need of spiritual direction. (By the way, his sister accepted Christ about a year ago--in answer to Frank's efforts and prayers.

Frank has had several short stories and one novella published in anthologies and online. Three of his short stories are found in Light at the Edge of Darkness, an anthology of Biblical Speculative Fiction. His award-winning debut novel, Flashpoint: Book One of the Underground was released October 2007.